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Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Lost Tribe: A Fantasy Novel About A Baseball Series in Nazi Germany

I am finally posting a review that is original content for this blog, but why am I reviewing a baseball novel?   Because there's a great deal more to this book than baseball.  There is also the premise of a secret paranormal gift which has been hidden away in the Jewish community for centuries, and of an equally esoteric organization devoted to preserving and protecting the people who have this gift.   They are called the zamlers. The Lost Tribe by Matthew Caldwell is mainly the story of a zamler named Harry Pike who loves baseball.

I found this book at Kindle Scout  which is a website where people can nominate books for publication by Amazon.  The book that collects the most nominations within a certain period will get selected.  Those that nominated the book get a free copy once it's published.  What services does Amazon provide for the authors of the Kindle Scout books that they publish?  I really don't know.  If  you're an interested author or you're just curious, you can check it out on the website at the link I've provided.

I nominated The Lost Tribe and it was selected for publication.  This is the first time that I've nominated a book that got selected.   That's probably because it was in the category of "Hot and Trending" when I nominated it. This means that it already had a great many nominations.   I don't make a habit of nominating books that are popular.  I nominate books that sound interesting and unusual.  An alternate history fantasy dealing with Nazis, baseball and a paranormal gift certainly qualifies.


The Yiddish word zamler means collector, but within the context of this novel it's someone with the paranormal gift to remove bad luck.     An individual who protects the zamlers is known as a pastekh which is a Yiddish word for shepherd.   I hadn't encountered "pastekh" previously, but I confirmed its meaning on a web page for Yiddish actor Maurice Schwartz who appeared in "Der Pastekh Kenig" which translates as The Shepherd King.

Harry Pike was a sports reporter who decided to respond to a Nazi baseball challenge to any American team who was willing to come to Germany.  This challenge, which never happened in the real world ,was issued in The Lost Tribe just before the outbreak of World War II.  They would do a six game tour of German cities playing against a German baseball team.  The prize was a substantial sum, but few American baseball players would volunteer to enter into a contest with Hitler's players on the terms of the Nazis.  Harry, who had just come into an inheritance, decided to assemble a baseball team himself and accompany them to Germany.   Harry was a baseball enthusiast, but he had also heard terrible stories about what was happening to Jews in Germany. He wanted to see if he could rescue zamlers while showing the Germans how baseball was really played.  

The team ended up playing in seriously adverse circumstances.  Surmounting them required courage, determination and ingenuity.  These were players who weren't regarded as acceptable for professional teams.  They included some African Americans, a Latino and a woman pitcher.  I loved the fact that Harry believed in these players.  He supported them through the training process and the entire tour.

There was one error in this book.   The Hebrew letters for "Happy New Year" were printed backwards.  Hebrew is written from right to left.  If an extra aleph had been added, the backwards letters would have read Ha'avot Ha'nash which could theoretically have been translated as The Fathers of the Snack.  Most people who snack don't like to worry about the snack's parentage.  Otherwise the copy editing was exemplary.

The Lost Tribe's remarkable concept was well-implemented.  Although I knew that the zamlers were the author's invention, they felt like authentic Jewish folklore. The baseball series in Nazi Germany never happened, but after I read the book I was convinced that it ought to have happened. The plot was suspenseful and the characters were movingly portrayed.  This is definitely the best indie book I've read in 2015 so far.









  1. Wow, this sounds like a good book for my blog on sports books. Do you have the author's contact information?

    1. Hi Lance, this is the author. Let me know if you're interested in speaking about the book. My email is mleecaldwell at yahoo dot com.

  2. This is the contact info that appears in The Lost Tribe

    Twitter: @mattlcaldwell


  3. Hi, this is the author. Thank you so much for the kind review! My email address is mleecaldwell [at] yahoo [dot] com. I would love to speak to anyone about the book! And Shomeret, may I quote a passage of this review in the book's Amazon page? Thanks again.

  4. Yes, you can quote from this review. I'm happy to help. This is an excellent book.