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This book is raw, and sadly very real. The thought of some of the things described in this book makes me cringe, and yet I would not hesitate to recommend this book as required reading for everyone. It reminds us of what men are capable of doing and the undying strength of the human spirit.
The book is a history of one mans (then a boy) journey into Auschwitz-Birkenau. A journey that VERY few lived to tell about. Elie Wiesel has lived an inspirational life (he's still alive) and has written several other books. I encourage anyone who has the time to take a minute and Google him - he's truly an amazing man.
After finishing the book, I told my wife some of the things I had learned. She stopped me before I could finish - it was too graphic. And it is graphic, and it is real. But it's my opinion that we need to realize that this really happened. We all know that millions of people were killed in these concentration camps, but what we sometimes forget is that these were real life people, each an individual with a story of their own. It's books like this that bring some of those individuals back to life.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
I am almost speechless. This is one of those times when you are so emotionally affected that words can not explain. I believe this is required reading in some schools and I applaud those schools. I would rather read horror as fiction, so I can tell myself that it is fiction. This is true, which makes the horror hard to bare. Everyone should read a non-fiction book about the Holocaust, Apartheid, slavery, war, or torture, just to keep them grounded about once a year. We need to be reminded and our young people need to learn and not forget.
23 of 24 people found this review helpful
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, Israeli author and 1986 Nobel Peace Prizewinner, presents to us a compelling, haunting and disturbing story.
Beautifully written, autobiographical, this personal narrative reflects the views of a 14 year-old boy torn from his home and community in Transylvania in the Second World War. He is traumatised by his separation from his mother and little sister, witnessing their subsequent consumption by Nazi fires and vengeance. Through one traumatising experience to the next, he manages, by a sinew at times, to retain his link with his father, surviving Auschwitz and Buchenwald... separated in the end by death and shame.
We follow the story of a Jewish community which could not contemplate the atrocities they would experience. They could not imagine the way in which the communities in which they were integrated would allow them to be expelled to concentration camps and annihilation. They could not foresee what it would be like to be marched out of their homes. "The town seemed deserted, but behind the shutters, our friends of yesterday were probably waiting for the moment when they could loot our homes".
They could not foresee the railway trucks full of Jews, the impact of scarcity and hunger and uncertainty on people's relationships. They could not have planned for the few hours they were given before they were expelled from their homes, burying valuable possessions under the floor-boards hoping one day, but never able, to reclaim their possessions. They could not imagine the cruelty, the violence, the humilation, the selection processes, the death factories, the fires, the trains, the labour camps, the public hangings, the beatings and the torture.
Elie wanders why and whether this is allowed to happen in the 20th century. He imagines the scenes of expulsions in the Inquisition, but not now when the whole world knew what was happening. And yet, the silence, the denials, and the lack of response prevailed.
"The ghetto was ruled by neither German nor Jew" he writes. "It was ruled ... by delusion".
Elie loses his trust in God and refuses to accept the existence of an all-knowing and all-good god who allows such barbarity to persist. We see stories of trust and reliability, love and warmth, tenderness and sacrifice. Wiesel writes beautifully and at times sparsely: "The synagogue resembled a railway station ... baggage and tears".
The recording contains additional material - Elie Wiesel's impressive Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech; his revised preface and discussion of why he wrote this book; and a valuable review of the book and its importance by Francois Mauriac, the French author who first encouraged Elie Wiesel to publish and assisted him after many failures, in getting into press.
The book is beautifully written, translated by his wife, and movingly read by George Guidall. Around three hours long it is a compelling and unforgettable audience with Elie Wiesel: haunting, disturbing, moving, human, insightful and lingering in the memory.
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp that turned my life into one long night, seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my god and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget those things even were I condemned to live as long as god himself"
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
moving to the point of tears. we all know the stories but this personal account is heartrending and unmissable
1 of 1 people found this review helpful