Heroes or Criminals

Heroes or Criminals

Gabriel Timar

Heroes or Criminals
By Gabriel Timar
Electronic Release: June 2010
ISBN: 978-1-897521-21-2

Rated: A+ Above Excellent    5+Stars

Reviewed by: Dan Golightly

In an age when war criminals launch invasions to seize other countries' lands and resources under a false pretext to go to war, enter Gabriel Timar, a man courageous enough to set the world straight on World War Two. Why do I get the feeling the protagonist of Heroes or Criminals, Hungarian born but nationalized U.S. citizen Mark Kende, is based on our unsung hero, World War Two vet and now esteemed author, Gabriel Timar? I admire the character of both men, the protagonist and the author upon whom I can only assume he is based. Why do I make this assumption? Because I actually met the author himself at a recent Mississauga engagement. He struck me as a polished gentleman who shined his intentions along with his military boots. After all, if your boots are shiny enough to see your face in them, you had better be proud of what you see.
The motto of my school was "Manners maketh men" and I see this ethic writ large in every page of this novel. Mark Kende is the epitome of the gentleman, a nobleman of the noblest rank, who despite his modest petty bourgeoisie background is an aristocrat of the highest order in terms of honor and conduct, distinguishing himself in battle by singlehandedly leading a charge, armed with only a bayonet, against the enemy for which he received a gong, which he wears proudly.
When observing the abuse of power committed by Nazis and other military officers breaching the Geneva Convention, Mark Kende adopts the mindset of "Yes sir, no sir!" and follows the dictates of his own conscience. When an old woman expresses pity for the Jews being boarded on to trains for transfer to the death camps, she intuits is the final destination, she is arrested by the Gestapo and thrown in to the line of prisoners. Mark is tempted to open fire on the heartless Nazi commandant in charge, but realizes that he will only get himself shot in the process and accomplish nothing.
When later a woman comes to him with an unusual request, Mark, ever the gentleman, sits quietly for a moment to formulate a response. It is no wonder he is given cause for pause. He even wonders if he is hearing things, begging her to repeat the request. She repeats her entreaty and Mark is amazed to find that the charming woman endowed with both sweetness of disposition and flawless genetics actually wants him to bed her in order to make her pregnant. Any other soldier of any rank would not have to be asked twice, but this extraordinary man of honor actually asks for an explanation and even tries to talk her out of it. When he learns that she fears an invasion by the Soviet army, whose reputation for raping the local women is well known, he understands that she would rather bear the child of friend than foe, so that she will be able to nurture and raise the child with the appropriate amount of love. Learning that she refuses to leave out of obligation to her aging parents, whom she feels bound to, he insists that she leave because her fluent Russian is liable to mean either a death sentence or permanent exile to a Siberian gulag.
Mark, ever the gentleman, forgives his mother's tryst with a male masseuse and even overlooks the fact that his middle aged mother has needs. They have a pretty solid rapport and respect one another's strong character and the fact that are both their own person. She stops pestering him to find a wife and he leaves her to choose her own husband. In the end, we have a man who is able to bridge the age gap, ethnic and ideological divisions, eventually choosing the homeland that best suits his cultural and philosophical bent, America, which he sees as a place where the boundaries between good and evil and right and wrong are more clearly delineated and drawn. It may have been true of the America of the Second World War era, but I wonder how Mark Kende would view the America of today, or author Gabriel Timar for that matter. I don't frankly know. I didn't have a chance to ask him.







Born in Hungary, Gabriel studied civil engineering at the Budapest University. Taking active part in the 1956 revolution, he decided to defect. Settled in Canada, worked as an engineer but after spending a few years in Labrador, he took a job in Bangla Desh. For the next twenty odd years he worked in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific as a consulting engineer, chief executive officer, United Nations environmental engineering advisor and finally as a professor.

In 1982 he married, returned to Canada and taught environmental engineering at Seneca College in Toronto. He retired as the Chair of Civil Engineering Technology. Since retirement, his hobby has been writing. Gabriel has published several full-length novels in both English and Hungarian.

Novels in English: Hades Connection (sci-fi, 2004), Assassins’ Club, (thriller, 2005) Novgorod Diary (sci-fi, publication in August 2008)

Novels in Hungarian: A Bardán kapcsolat (sci-fi, 2000), Hösök vagy bünösök (historical novel, 2005), Menni vagy maradni (fictionalized autobiography, 2006), A Fegyverek árnyékában (historical novel, 2007)

He has also written several manuals and college textbooks published by the Province of Ontario, Seneca College, United Nations and the University of Malawn

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