This is another masterpiece from Stefan Heym, the pseudonym for Helmut Flieg. The author is an East German/American Jewish writer, known for his controversial political standing, and as an advocate of "real socialism" he has been a victim of totalitarism and western democracy alike. In "The King David Report," Hyem has retold the old biblical/legendary/historical story of King David. The main character, who personifies the author, is Ethan of Ezra, a wise, truthful man who has been entrusted by King Solomon to write the official version of King David's life and deeds. Ethan is the intellectual who must face the conflicts of time and who is tormented by the limitations which are set to his writing the truth, who soon realizes that learned men are an annoyance to the people and a bother to the servants of the King. To what extent should he expose the truth of King David's life, who setting aside his political glory can also be accused of being a murderer, adulterer, and a machiavellic leader? How does history deal with a King whose only purpose was power, who only loved himself, whose God was made exclusive to himself and justified his crimes in the name of the Holy One? Ethan soon realizes that the outlaw will cover his tracks rather than leave behind accounts of his exploits, and a high price is to be paid by those who are willing to bring forth the truth.
How are we to deal with historical undesirable matter? Tell it all, tell it with discretion, or don't tell it. Heym's intention is to extrapolate the story of King David to events taken place in our recent history, something that comes out quite easily for the reader. But despite oppression, torture, false witnesses, perversion of the facts, plariarism, and the death of the innocent, the author is a positive, optimistic thinker. He believes that it is impossible to entirely divorce history from truth and expect it to remain credible. "As the sun breaks through the clouds, truth will break through words..."
"The King David Report" has a complex structure, a well-documented background, and a clear ironic transparency. It is a well-elaborated piece of literature, which must be seen as a historical novel, a biblical account, and a political satire.