Review of Aganst the Oaks of Bashan by Julia Starling

Against the Oaks of Bashan
Julia Starling

Right off the bat, I have to say this is an excellent story.  It is a story of the darkest
conspiracy imaginable contrived by a man trained in the art of genetic manipulation by one or
more fugitive Nazi scientists, the illusive and sinister Professor Litvac and the effects of his work
on two generations of scientists under his influence.  Beginning in military ruled Buenos Aires
after the 1976 coup, more than 30,000 people (desaparecidos) disappeared through politically
enforced murder or imprisonment. Against the Oaks of Bashan is a story based on these
disappearances and proposes the scenario what if a trained scientist with a fetish for power,
trained by the dark influences of escaped Nazi scientists managed to develop genetically superior
scientists gifted in genetics and cell biology and focused their efforts on engineering a compliant
race of humans based on fear satiated by rampant consumerism. The atmosphere of political
danger, uncertainty, narcissism and diversion engendered in Buenos Aires during the 1970s
provides the backdrop for Professor Litvac’s sinister plan.
Enter Lucas and Vera Freund, gifted scientists who are an important part of Professor
Litvac’s plan.  Vera has made an undisclosed but significant scientific discovery that she and
Lucas do not want Litvac to know about. During the course of concealing it, they become
desaparecidos imprisoned by Litvac while forced to continue their work. Antonio Fons, a
narcissistic surgeon is recruited by Litvac who appeals to his vanity and inner need for wealth to
participate in his “experiments” …really more torture than science. Antonio finds that Vera has
family money and facilitates their escape to a facility in New Mexico.

One generation later, Frances Fons, Antonio’s younger daughter is accepted out of school
into Plan B of the local medical school…that is to say, she is targeted by Litvac to continue his
experiments. Antonio resists her recruitment into Litvac’s influence, but is countered by Frances’
school administrator with whom Antonio has financial arrangement. Frances enters the Plan B
program against Antonio’s wishes, and Antonio is discredited exiled to Uruguay.
More, I cannot tell without spoiling the story. It is sufficient to say that two generations of
scientists have an amazing relationship and that Professor Litvac’s evil scheme has very long
The author’s writing style displays a unique and interesting talent for description.
Description is a good thing for establishing context and tone, but in places I found myself
distracted from the storyline by descriptions. Other than that, the story was extremely well
written although the copy that I was given for review needed to be carefully proofread and
Against the Oak of Bashan should appeal to anyone with a taste for dark conspiracies,
psychological/political thrillers, or historical fiction.  Julia Starling has done an excellent job in
all respects.

5-Stars Clabe Polk

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