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QB VII
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QB VII

QB VII by Leon Uris was a best seller published in 1970. This three-part novel highlights the events leading to a life-shattering libel trial in the United Kingdom.

Warning: Plot details follow.

Parts one and two concern the plaintiff and defendant in this trial and takes us through their lives before meeting in the 1960s.

The plaintiff is a doctor impressed into the service of the Nazis after Poland was overrun in World War II. As head physician in a concentration camp he has the opportunity to save many Jews and other prisoners from the gas chambers. After the war, he becomes a naturalized citizen of the United Kingdom and serves for several years in a free medical clinic in Borneo. Upon resuming private practice, the doctor is confronted with allegations that he collaborated with the Nazis and performed ghastly medical experiments for them. At first he is staunchly defended, but as more evidence comes to light in the trial, his past is revealed.

The defendant served overseas in World War II and recovered in England. He'd been a reporter and a writer of screenplays before and after the war, and one of his books documents the experiences of concentration camp survivors, several of whom cite the plaintiff as the source of their suffering. When he publishes a line to this effect in his latest book, citing "thousands of persons" as opposed to "dozens", he and the publishing house are sued for libel.

Part three of the novel is set in one of Her Majesty's courtrooms (Queen's Bench, Courtroom Seven of the title) where this trial is played out. The jury finds for the plaintiff and awards him one halfpenny in damages -- the lowest amount that can be awarded for damages in Britain. In effect, the whole novel seems to indict the plaintiff for collaborating, while the defendant who is guilty of exaggeration has his literary reputation ruined. As the defendant says before the verdict is read, "Nobody's going to win this trial; we're all losers." And the novel ends with the start of the Six-Day War in which the defendant's son, who emigrated to Israel, is killed in combat.

The novel was made into a television mini-series in 1974, which aired on ABC. It starred Anthony Hopkins, Lee Remick, and John Gielgud. When it aired it was viewed as a "novel for television" (the first on ABC) and it helped launch the mini-series format.