• by Nechama Tec
  • Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
  • 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The prevailing image of European Jews during the Holocaust is one of helpless victims. But in fact, many Jews struggled against the terrors of the Third Reich. This is the riveting history of one such group: a forest community numbering more than 1,200 that carried out the largest armed rescue operation of Jews by Jews in World War II. Nechama Tec reconstructs the amazing details of how these men and women of all ages - hungry, largely unarmed, and exposed to harsh winter weather - managed not only to survive but to take on the dual role of fighters and rescuers. Under the guidance of their charismatic leader, Tuvia Bielski, they smuggled Jews out of heavily guarded ghettos, led retaliatory raids against Nazi collaborators, and offered protection to all Jewish fugitives who could find their way to them.


What the Critics Say

"One of the most elevating and inspiring stories in the chronicle of death and despair that is the accomplished and startling work of Holocaust documentation." (Los Angeles Times)
"An exciting story of rescuers and fighters - a story that should have been documented years ago....Defiance will no doubt engender further interest in the subject of Jewish partisan activity." (Social Education)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Brillaint scholarship; hard read

This is a brilliant social history of a Jewish resistance movement in Belarus and Eastern Poland. It focusses on the Bielski partisan group lead by the three Bielski brothers.

What made this partisan unit different from the others active in the area was the fact A) they were Jewish and B) focused much more on saving lives than on attacking the Germans. Their efforts eventually resulted in the saving of more than 1,000 Jews.

The book is a standard social history that tackles its subject in a thematic rather than a narrative style. This makes the book less accessible. This is not a piece of popular history but is intended to be read by scholars who have made a study of the Holocaust or the Jews. The result is that the book can be hard to follow at times as it does not strictly follow a chronological format. Additionally, the book seems repetitive as the author supported his assertions with a large number of examples many of which are very similar.

This is a stunning piece of scholarship with the information presented logically and clearly in a remarkably evenhanded manner. This is done at the expense of readability and accessibility. Therefore, I would not recommend this book to the casual reader but to the serious student of the subject.
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- Matthew


This book is very dry and boring. When I first read the synopsis I thought it would be very interesting, lots of action, at least a plot. This book has neither. Rather it's an account of an inexhaustible list of names and places and how they moved around from one group and place to the next. After listening to two thirds of the first part I had to stop, I couldn't take any more. I don't want to take away from the efforts of those who are mentioned in this book, I know that what they did was brave and heroic. There are times in the book of accounts that if told differently should have held the reader in suspense and dread however, even at those times it was told in a fashion that sparked very little emotional contact or empathy with the characters. I just wished the author would have taken a different approach instead of a dull chronology as this is a great story that does deserve a better rendering.
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- wsoxfan2005

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-15-2008
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.