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1. Man's Search For Meaning
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2. Night
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3. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young
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4. The Hidden Pope: The Untold Story
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20. Surviving Hitler : A Boy in the

1. Man's Search For Meaning
by Viktor E. Frankl
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671023373
Catlog: Book (1997-12-01)
Publisher: Pocket
Sales Rank: 518
Average Customer Review: 4.74 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is among the most influential works of psychiatric literature since Freud. The book begins with a lengthy, austere, and deeply moving personal essay about Frankl's imprisonment in Auschwitz and other concentration camps for five years, and his struggle during this time to find reasons to live. The second part of the book, called "Logotherapy in a Nutshell," describes the psychotherapeutic method that Frankl pioneered as a result of his experiences in the concentration camps. Freud believed that sexual instincts and urges were the driving force of humanity's life; Frankl, by contrast, believes that man's deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose. Frankl's logotherapy, therefore, is much more compatible with Western religions than Freudian psychotherapy. This is a fascinating, sophisticated, and very human book. At times, Frankl's personal and professional discourses merge into a style of tremendous power. "Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is," Frankl writes. "After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips." ... Read more

Reviews (174)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book to Provoke, What is Your Life's Meaning?
I wish I read this 20 years ago, it would have created a whole new perspective on my life. I won't repeat what many of the other fine reviewers have mentioned, but will add the following:

According to Frankl, man's search for meaning is his primary motivation for life, not a secondary rationalization.

Existential Vacuum, in today's Modern Society, we all have basic food, and shelter, we all can survive (thank goodness we don't have to endure what Frankl had to), we are all comfortable in our existence, and yet this comfort creates boredom, and therefore, our search for meaning is even more compounded. Thus is what Frankl refers to as existential vacuum, we exist today day to day, but do so in a vacuum of existence, until we know our meaning.

Man should not ask what is the meaning of life, but rather BE asked. In response, man must answer in his responsible, to whom is he responsible to, to what, to whom?

True meaning is discovered in the world, not within man himself. Seek out your experiences, the meaning is out there in the world, not within yourself.

You cannot avoid untentional suffering, but you can change your attitude towards it, to give suffering a meaning to you.

Live your life as though you were living it the second time. View life as a series of movie frames, the ending and meaning may not be apparent until the very end of the movie, and yet, each of the hundreds of individual frames has meaning within the context of the whole movie.

View your life from your funeral, looking back at your life experiences, what have you accomplished? what would you have wanted to accomplish but didn't? what were the happy moments? what were the sad? what would you do again, and what you wouldn't?

A must read for anyone searching for a deeper meaning in life. The book won't give you the meaning, only you can, but it will certainly help you get started.

5-0 out of 5 stars POWERFUL AND COMPELLING!
I look with awe and reverence at those who have survived Auschwitz and similar death camps and am amazed beyond belief at how they managed to survive not only physically, but emotionally. I do not believe any amount of psychology could fully prepare one for the horrors inflicted on the survivors of such attrocities. Both my parents fought for their country overseas during the World War II and I heard, first hand, of stories that touch, horrify and will remain with me for a lifetime.

Dr. Frankl developed an approach to psychotherapy known as, logotherapy. At the core of his theory is the belief that man's motivational force is reaching for meaning. While this book is not one that could be described as enjoyable reading, there is something about the author's experiences that will remain with us long after the book has concluded. Frankl gives meaning to life, despite life's suffering, and in a thought-provoking manner leaves a lasting impact on the reader that could well change the path of direction you choose to follow and how you continue to live your life.

4-0 out of 5 stars All have a unique meaning to life to personally discover!
After years of hearing others praise this book, I finally read it for myself, and found it is worth reading! Dr. Victor Frankl, an author-psychiatrist, experienced first-hand the horrible atrocities that were forced upon the Jews in Nazi Concentration Camps, and lived to tell about it. He shares the truths he learned as a prisoner, including man's search for meaning in life, and his ability to survive extreme physical and emotional hardships, despite the odds. In the process he developed a new approach to psychotherapy, known as "logotherapy." At the root of the theory is the value of helping others find their unique purpose or mission in life.

What was the key to the survival in the Nazi death camps? It wasn't survival of the fittest in the traditional sense of those who were the most physically robust of the human species. Rather it tended to be those individuals, described below, who found inner survival strength as follows:

(1.) Those who had a meaning in life, a sense of purpose, or intent to accomplish a goal. It was Dr. Frankl's desire to survive the death camps so that he could write and publish his experiences and truths learned through his suffering.

(2.) Those who had a spiritual belief in God and a faith that there was a divine plan for them. They believed God would help them through their difficulties. Dr. Frankl said: "In spite of all the enforced physical and mental primitiveness of the life in a concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen."

(3.) Those who had an intellectual life to fall back on (in their thoughts) during the monotonous, strenuous, and most painful times of endurance. He states: "Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain... but the damage to their inner selves was less. They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom." This was something their oppressors were not able to take away from them.

(4.) Those who held on to the cherished bonds of loved ones. Dr. Frankl often found strength by carrying on imagined conversations with his beloved wife who had been taken to another death camp. His ability to communicate his love for her in his thoughts, and receive back her love, gave him the incentive to hold on to life during the toughtest of times. Unfortunately his wife was not able to survive, but he didn't know this at the time. (Perhaps it was her Spirit he was communicating with afterall.)

I was impressed with the description Dr. Frankl gave of a few of the prisoners, who despite being in a starving and sickly state, managed to go around offering aid and moral encouragement to others. Such individuals often gave of their meager piece of daily bread to keep another fellow prisoner alive. Such selfless service in the face of death, was truly admirable.

In the second half of Dr. Frankl's book he distinguishes the difference between his theory of logotherapy and that of traditional approaches to physcho-analysis. At the core of his theory is the challenge to help individuals discover for themselves their reason for being, even a worthwhile goal. He quotes Nietzche who said: "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how." Dr. Frankl says: "The meaning of life always changes, but it never ceases to be." This book can be a great resource for readers to evaluate their own purpose in life, and perhaps in the process choose a path that is worthwhile not only to them but that will benefit others as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Both touching and helpful!
This book was touching to the point that it was painful to read at times. Yet, the overall message of this book is wonderfully exhilarating. Whatever meaning you find in your life is your life. If that meaning gives you hope, you will have hope. If that meaning gives you despair, you will find despair. This is a fantastic piece of existential work! The whole idea in this book reminds me a bit of the concept of the self-system in Toru Sato's genius book "The Ever-Transcending Spirit". Now "The Ever-Transcending Spirit" is a much newer book but it is another truly excellent book that takes these things one step further by integrating these ideas with the psychology of relationships as well as transpersonal experiences. I recommend this Frankl and Sato's book very very much! They are both outstanding!

5-0 out of 5 stars A monumental work of human courage
This book would be instrumental to those who wish to understand the greater purpose behind their suffering. The author describes his enduring many horrific experiences of the Holocaust while discovering a greater meaning in these experiences.

Viktor Frankl believes there is a deeper meaning behind the suffering many continue to experience. He also feels that it's one's personal challenge to discover the purpose behind the pain they feel. While being non-judgmental about human suffering, the author sees our pain as a source of strength rather than as a sign of weakness.

This book is ideal for those who are seeking the greater meaning in their suffering. While much of his story takes place during the Holocaust, the lessons are universal to anyone who has ever experienced great difficulty. ... Read more


2. Night
by Elie Wiesel, Stella Rodway, Francois Mauriac
list price: $5.99
our price: $5.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553272535
Catlog: Book (1982-04-01)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 1663
Average Customer Review: 4.37 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's wrenching attempt to find meaning in the horror of the Holocaust is technically a novel, but it's based so closely on his own experiences in Birkenau, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald that it's generally--and not inaccurately--read as an autobiography. Like Wiesel himself, the protagonist of Night is a scholarly, pious teenager racked with guilt at having survived the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died. ... Read more

Reviews (744)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lifechanging experience
Night, by Elie Weisel, is a book different than any other I have read. Many opinions about history, and even life in some cases changed while reading Night. For a very long time I believed that Josef Stalin was the most evil man to live in the twentieth century. After reading Night I believe that Hitler and his relentless "fight" to exterminate Hebrews from the face of the planet is the most evil act of hate ever. Elie Weisel is a 12 year old boy living in the town of Sighet. Untouched by Nazis until about 1942, Elie begins his long tour of numerous concentration camps throughout Europe. This book is about the lengths a human will go through to survive. Night is about love, hope, determination, and the spirit of humanity to survive, forgive, and to inform us, the readers, that we must never forget the lives lost during the years of Nazi occupied Germany. We must never forget how 12 million people just like you and I were executed because of differences. Night is a book that should eventually be read by all high school students. I am still humbled by Night.

4-0 out of 5 stars Non-Stop Reading for the Mind and Soul
Reading Night by Elie Wiesel began as a simple two-day assignment for my freshman English class. At first glance, I expected this quick read to be simply one more trite account to the terrible atrocities committed during wwii Germany. But after getting only 15 pages into the storyline, I found myself immersed in the detail, precision, and striking ability with which Wiesel describes his own adolescent struggle. At the age of only 15, he was faced with the daunting task of realizing that not everyone is good deep down inside. As his family is herded from its town of Sighet into trains, and then unkonwingly into concentration camps, the universal good in man which young Eliezer had once believed was stripped from his soul. This emotional weekend read is capable of being devoured all in one sitting. However, while reading this book in our living rooms or at the beach, we must remember what our fellow men and women around the world have been through. As readers, we should take time to celebrate the courage and hope that men like Elie Wiesel have possessed. Without this strong passion for life our world would be so much different than it is today. The few hours we spend reading this book are special. But they are nothing compared to the days, months, and years that thousands of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and slavs spent in concentration camps. If you have ever felt low or alone, read Night, and you will see just how lucky you are to be able to breathe, to eat, to love, to feel, to even be alive.

4-0 out of 5 stars Horrifying Account of the Holocaust
Night is the story of Elie Wiesel's experience in the German concentration camp Auschwitz during World War II. He calls it a "nightmare-" this is an understatement. One can wake up from a nightmare. The horror Wiesel lived had no outlet.

A Jew from Transylvania, Wiesel grew up with a strong religious background. He found an unlikely teacher in a man named "Moshe the Beadle." Moshe taught his pupil that man could not understand God's answers to man's questions; man could only ask God the right questions. Would Elie's time in Auschwitz destroy his budding faith? The book explores faith in a searing way. A must read for all. Ages 16 and up.

4-0 out of 5 stars Searching for Themes in Night
Night is a story about a young boy's life during the Holocaust. He uses a different name in the story, Eliezer. He comes from a highly Orthodox Jewish family, and they observed the Jewish traditions. His father, Shlomo, a shopkeeper, was very involved with the Jewish community, which was confined to the Jewish section of town, called the shtetl.
In 1944, the Jews of Hungary were relatively unaffected by the catastrophe that was destroying the Jewish communities of Europe in spite of the infamous Nuremberg Laws of 1935-designed to dehumanize German Jews and subject them to violence and prejudice. The Holocaust itself did not reach Hungary until 1944. In Wiesel's native Sighet, the disaster was even worse: of the 15,000 Jews in prewar Sighet, only about fifty families survived the Holocaust. In May of 1944, when Wiesel was fifteen, his family and many inhabitants of the Sighet shtetl were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The largest and deadliest of the camps, Auschwitz was the site of more than 1,300,000 Jewish deaths. Wiesel's father, mother, and little sister all died in the Holocaust. Wiesel himself survived and immigrated to France. His story is a horror story that comes to life when students in high school read this novel. Even though many students have not witnessed or participated in such horror, they relate to the character because Wiesel is their age. They cannot believe someone went through the nightmare he did at their age.

This book focuses on many themes: conflict, silence, inhumanity to others, and father/son bonding. We see many, too many, conflicts this young man faces. Eliezer struggles with his faith throughout the story. He believes that God is everywhere, and he can't understand how God could let this happen, especially as Eliezer faces conflict everyday in the concentration camp. He also learns silence means. He says he says it is God's silence that he doesn't understand. He feels that God's silence demonstrates the absence of divine compassion. Another silence that drive confuses Eliezer is the silence of the victims. He cannot understand why they don't fight back, especially with the inhumanity that is forced upon them. It is because of this inhumanity that he loses faith, not only in God but also in men. He tells how at the beginning, the Germans were "distant but friendly." However, when they reach the camps, the soldiers are transformed from men to monsters. As part of this inhumanity and lack of faith is the instances when a son betrays his father. He sees this several times and can't comprehend how a son, in order to save his own life, betrays his father. Luckily for Eliezer's father, Eliezer's love and bond is stronger than self-preservation.
How can students relate to this story when they haven't experienced anything near what Wiesel did. Maybe they haven't experienced these acts, but they have experienced conflict, silence, inhumanity, and bonding, and if a teacher focuses on these themes, the students will relate.
Works Cited:
Sparknotes.com. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/night/themes.html

5-0 out of 5 stars Overpowering and Humbling....
l am a Christian and was absolutely stunned by this book. To read -and more importantly to re-read and reflect - about the trials and tribulations of a devoted Jewish family as they went from a loving, religious/spiritual home to a ghetto, then to the railroad yards, then to a Concentration Camp...is to be transported to a nightmarish journey and world that must never be taken for granted, that must be understood deeply, and which must be respected with our hearts more than with our minds.

To criticize any victim of the Holocaust for doubting or questioning their G-d is to live in a fantasy world. Unless one has lived through the horror and degradations of the Holocaust, he should be quiet. As for me, whenever l see or think of the child-victims and their parents of those terrible days, l think of me and my own children in their place...and it keeps me very humble. ... Read more


3. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
by ANNE FRANK
list price: $5.50
our price: $4.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553296981
Catlog: Book (1993-06-01)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 2494
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

A beloved classic since its initial publication in 1947, this vivid, insightful journal is a fitting memorial to the gifted Jewish teenager who died at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in 1945. Born in 1929, Anne Frank received a blank diary on her 13th birthday, just weeks before she and her family went into hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Her marvelously detailed, engagingly personal entries chronicle 25 trying months of claustrophobic, quarrelsome intimacy with her parents, sister, a second family, and a middle-aged dentist who has little tolerance for Anne's vivacity. The diary's universal appeal stems from its riveting blend of the grubby particulars of life during wartime (scant, bad food; shabby, outgrown clothes that can't be replaced; constant fear of discovery) and candid discussion of emotions familiar to every adolescent (everyone criticizes me, no one sees my real nature, when will I be loved?). Yet Frank was no ordinary teen: the later entries reveal a sense of compassion and a spiritual depth remarkable in a girl barely 15. Her death epitomizes the madness of the Holocaust, but for the millions who meet Anne through her diary, it is also a very individual loss. --Wendy Smith ... Read more

Reviews (436)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Diary of Anne Frank was a wonderful book.
I read the book, "The Diary of Anne Frank." I thought that it was not only a wonderful book, but it was very real. It is the captivating story of a young girl, told to her diary about her life, growing up under sone of the strangest, and saddest conditions. It was written in Holland in the early 1940's, during the anti-semetic movements of the Nazi party. Is is told from the innocent eyes of a child, forced to go into hiding to escape Nazi persecution. She lives under close quarters, with seven other people. I felt, because the book was so real, that I actually knew the characters in the book. I found myself relating to ideas that Anne had and things that she said. I think that everyone should read this book because is is an insight into life, love, and hate. I believe that this is a great book and could be enjoyed by anyone.

4-0 out of 5 stars Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl
The book that I just finished reading is called Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl written by Anne Frank herself. It is one of the best book that I have ever read. It tells you about the life of a teenage girl who is trying to survive the awful times of the Holocaust while in hiding. Along with her, there are seven other people living in this hiding place. She learns how to cooporate with other people and how to live while all cooped up. The story takes place in Amsterdam and the hiding place is called the "Secret Annexe". There are two people who get them their food and take care of them. The end of this book is so heart-wrenching that it is unbelieveable. I would definately give this book nine stars out of ten. This book is so informative that is really makes you realize how fortunate we really are these days. It explains everything so well that you can't even believe that something this horrible could ever even happen. This book has definately made me think completely different in a good way and I hope that it will do the same for you.

4-0 out of 5 stars Franco's Fabulous Book Review
Anne Frank, a 13 year-old, strong-willed, and courageous girl, is living in the Secret Annex during WWII to escape the Nazi regime. Anne, along with her family and close friends, are hiding from the Nazis because they are of the Jewish faith. Anne falls in love with Peter, a 15 year-old boy who is living with her in the Secret Annex. They become very close as they spend time in the attic trying to escape Peter's annoying mother. The group living in the Secret Annex has to be extremely careful. If they make too much noise, they have a chance of being caught. If they are caught, they will most likely be sent to a concentration camp. Any loud noise or movement could cost the eight tenants of the Secret Annex to die.
"Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" is an amazing book. It lets you realize how lucky we are to live in the world we live in today. The struggles that Anne and the group go through to live a "normal" life are nothing like anyone in today's world would be forced to go through. It allows people interested in WWII to gain information as to what is was like to live during the war.
"Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" is a must read. It is ver informative, yet allows the reader to learn about WWII in an interesting way. So, if you like WWII and are interested in learning what it was like to live back then, this book is for you. It is also a good piece of historical fiction. Pick it up today!

Julie Francolino

4-0 out of 5 stars A diary that truly depicted War...
I earnestly almost cried after reading this book.I was 13,the same age as Anne's when she started writing her diary,whom she called "kitty".

For those who have no idea who Anne Frank is,she is a Jewish girl and the youngest of two girls.Her father was successful businessman...and the family led a happy and wonderful life after settling down in the bustling city of Amsterdam,that was until Adolf Hitler started the Nazis.The Nazis was an anti-Jew operation,where they would capture Jewish men and tortured them.The women and young and old were not let off either,many were sent to concentration camps,where living conditions there were so bad,many died of diseases rather than the slow torturings.

It was at this time that Mr Frank decided to go into hiding with his family.With some of his kind-hearted co-workers,they managed to perfect a secret hideout.Anne,her mother and sister Margot began moving into the hideout,which was located just behind the office.Joining them were the Van Dans (not sure if spelling is right)who had a son named Peter and a doctor.Life was very tough,for living behind the office with barely a bookshelf as a wall means not making loud noises.No one must know of their existense,so all everybody could do is to crept round their area softly,tip-toeing and even speaking in hush-whistle.

For almost 2 years,that's the life of Anne.A growing teenager,she could not go out to the streets to watch a movie,play with her friends or even talk to boys,for that means getting caught by the Nazis.It was also round this time that Anne had one true friend where she can confide everything to:kitty,her diary.

In her diary,she wrote of how talkative she was in class(she went to school before the hiding),how she hates her mother when the latter compared her to her sister Margot,how she detested Mrs Van Dam...and her deepest thoughts on growing up in a secret hideout.She also shared about her crush on Peter,who also liked her.

Anne,as we could see,was a normal girl,someone who detested writing,someone who likes a boy and someone who wants to grow up being an author.Well,you could say she is one now,with her diary published after the war, which was later translated to more than 50 languages and sold millions worldwide...but the young girl,unlike her diary,did not survived through the war,for she was captured from her hideout one fine day.Mrs Frank,Margot,the doctor,the Van Dams and Anne herself,all died.All except for Mr Frank himself,who survived...

By the way, a little unknown fact about her Anne:her real name is Annelies Marie Frank.

5-0 out of 5 stars Anne Frank:The Diary of a Young Girl
The epic Adventure of Anne Frank, born in Germany Anne Frank spent two years of her life in Astonishing Circumstances. Anne faces adventure when the Nazis where murdering Jews. Anne, Mummy, Daddy, Mrs. Van Daan, Mr. Van Daan, and Peter. All hid in a secret passage in an old warehouse in Amsterdam. Anne and her diary explains of the fear of being discovered by the Nazis. Yet within it, a tender love story slowly unfolds-from her shy avoidances with peter to incessant glances and first kiss! Thus her diary is not a lament but a song to life, no matter the circumstances, no matter what the threats.
Great book for all ages, and you can't beat the low price. ... Read more


4. The Hidden Pope: The Untold Story of a Lifelong Friendship That Is Changing the Relationship Between Catholics and Jews: The Personal Journey of John Paul II and Jerzy Kluger
by Darcy O'Brien
list price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0875964788
Catlog: Book (1998-04-01)
Publisher: Rodale Press
Sales Rank: 344887
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

John Paul II has made greater strides toward understanding and atoning for Rome's complicity in anti-Semitism than any other pope in history. The Hidden Pope shows how and why this rapprochement is taking place by telling the story of John Paul's lifelong friendship with Jerzy Kluger, a Polish Jew. The text is a fascinating and detailed depiction of John Paul's personal life, butthe book's real significance lies in its frank demonstration of the way Karol Wojtyla brings his personal experience to bear on the eternal truths of Catholic theology. ... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent for Jewish readers
This book gives an eye opening view of the current Pope. It shows how his upbringing in Poland led him to have his feelings of friendship with the Jewish people. He is presented as a true "tzadik". The book also briefly relates on how the works of Pope John XXIII and Cardinals Willebrands, O'Connor and Spellman have brought about a better understanding of Judaism in the Church. If their messages could only filter down to the populace...

5-0 out of 5 stars A good read!
I found this book very informative on the Pope, who has always been a hero of mine. It was very indepth and historical. Although it was not negative about the Pope it did seem to contain some incorrect statments on the views of catholics and the teachings of the Church. I felt it was assumed that catholics are, in general, negative towards Jews. I have always been a believing catholic and have never thought of Jews as "Christ Killers" or anything like that. I have never found anything in Catholic teaching that would support those views, most of these from writings from before John Paul II. Usually I read that we are all personally guilty of the crucifiction by our own sins. Over all it was a good and worthwhile reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible
This is a fabulous book. I am neither Catholic nor Jewish, but I was fascinated by the depth of the man we all call Pope. I had no idea of his personal journey, and the breadth of his goodness. Too many times, we don't look beyond the title and the robes. This is truly a saintly man.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another O'Brien masterpiece
Having read many other books by this author, I am constantly amazed at not only the depth of knowledge O'Brien brings to each of his works, but also by the depth of the author himself, who obviously lives the research of each subject. Such dedication to research is highly visible in his latest, and sadly, his last offering.

5-0 out of 5 stars excellant historic account of the pope and his boyhood
Wonderfully written. O'Brien shows great talent in going from his account of the Hillside Strangler Case, "Two of a Kind" to a revealing historical account of the Pope. ... Read more


5. My Fathers' Houses : Memoir of a Family
by Steven Roberts
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060739932
Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 6522
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Book Description

Bayonne prepared me well for a larger life and a larger world. I knew who I was and where I was from. I was connected by innumerable little cords to people and places that gave me strength and identity. On The Block I was safe, secure, loved. I even had a number, 174, the address of our house, but the number wasn't a badge of anonymity. To the contrary, it marked my place, where I belonged.

As moving as Russell Baker's Growing Up and Calvin Trillin's Messages from My Father, My Fathers' Houses is the story of a town, a time, and a boy who would grow up to become a New York Times correspondent, television and radio personality, and bestselling author.

In this remarkable memoir, Steven V. Roberts tells the story of his grandparents, his parents, and his own life, vividly bringing a period, a place, and a remarkable family into focus. The period was the forties and fifties, when the children of immigrants were striving to become American in a booming postwar world. The place was one block in Bayonne, New Jersey, and the house that Roberts's grandfather, Harry Schanbam, built with his own hands, a warm and reassuring home, just across the Hudson River from "the city," where Roberts grew up surrounded by family and tales of the Old Country.

This personal journey starts in Russia, where the family business of writing and ideas began. A great-uncle became an editor of Pravda and two great-aunts were originalmembers of the Bolshevik party. His other grandfather, Abraham Rogowsky, stole money to become a Zionist pioneer in Palestine and helped to build the second road in Tel Aviv before settling in America. Roberts returns his saga to Depression-era Bayonne, where his parents, living one block apart, penned love letters to each other before marrying in secret. His father, an author and publisher of children's books, and his uncle, a critic and short story writer, instilled in him a love for words and a determination to carry on the family legacy, a legacy he is now passing on to his own children and grandchildren.

Roberts, too, would leave home, for Harvard, where he met Cokie Boggs, the Catholic girl he would marry, and later, for the New York Times, where he would start his career -- across the river and worlds away from where he began. An emotional, compelling story of fathers and sons, My Fathers' Houses encapsulates the American experience of change and continuity, of breaking new ground using the tools and traditions of the past. ... Read more


6. Who She Was : My Search for My Mother's Life
by Samuel G. Freedman
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743227352
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 14749
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When Samuel G. Freedman was nearing fifty, the same age at which his mother died of breast cancer, he realized that he did not know who she was. Of course, he knew that Eleanor had been his mother, a mother he kept at an emotional distance both in life and after death. He had never thought about the entire life she lived before him, a life of her own dreams and disappointments. And now, that ignorance haunted him.

So Freedman set out to discover the past, and Who She Was is the story of what he found. It is the story of a young woman's ambitions and yearnings, of the struggles of her impoverished immigrant parents, and of the ravages of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Holocaust.

It is also the story of a middle-aged son wracked with regret over the disregard he had shown as a teenage boy for a terminally ill mother, and as an adult incapable for decades of visiting her grave. It is the story of how he healed that wound by asking all the questions he had not asked when his mother was alive.

Whom did she love? Who broke her heart? What lifted her spirits? What crushed her hopes? What did she long to become? And did she get to become that woman in her brief time on earth?

Who She Was brings a compassionate yet unflinching eye to the American Jewish experience. It recaptures the working-class borough of the Bronx with its tenements and pushcarts, its union halls and storefront synagogues and rooftop-tar beaches. It remembers a time when husbands searched hundreds of miles for steady work and wives sent packages and prayers to their European relatives in the desperate hope they might survive the Nazis. In such a world, Eleanor Hatkin came of age, striving for education, for love, for a way out.

Researched as a history, written like a novel, Who She Was stands in the tradition of such classics as Call It Sleep and The Assistant. In bringing to life his mother, Samuel G. Freedman has given all readers a memorable heroine. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars When we reach the age when our first parent died ....
When we reach the age when our first parent died we have to come to a kind of realization that they didn't have any more than we're already had. Somewhere about then many of us start to reflect a bit on the life that that parent lived.

In my case it was a father who lived very poor in rural Arkansas.His father ... well this is not my family's story. It was later that I realized what he had gone through working in the hot Louisiana sun to give me a couple of college degrees.

I wish that I had the way with words Mr. Freedman has to put down the story of his mother's life. Indeed I'd like to have even researched my father's life as extensively as he has his mothers.

It was certainly a different life in the East Bronx than it was in the Arkansas Ozarks. I don't think better, or worse, just different. Mr. Freedman's grandmother had a major and not necessarily beneficial impact on his mother's life. My father's mother had died when he was six (childbirth).

Mr. Freedman has taken this story beyond just the story of one lady, it's a tale of the life of new immigrants living the Depression Era American Jewish experience. It's a good tribute to Eleanor Freeman. It's also a good tribute to Samuel Freedman.

He, like I, think of the casual cruelty we caused our parents. We'd like to go back and fix a few things, say a few things. But we can't. Instead, we smile and think of the things our kids have done, and we don't mind.

Mr. Freedman, your mother is, I think, looking down on you with pride, as I think my father is with me -- even though we know we don't deserve it. ... Read more


7. The Face of a Naked Lady : An Omaha Family Mystery
by Michael Rips
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0618273522
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Sales Rank: 143785
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Nic Rips"s son had always known him as a conservative midwesterner, dedicated, affable, bland to the point of invisibility. Upon his father"s death, however, Michael Rips returned to his Omaha family home to discover a hidden portfolio of paintings — all done by his father, all of a naked black woman. So begins Michael Rips"s exquisitely humane second work of memoir, a gloriously funny yet deeply serious gem of a book that offers more than a little redemption in our cynical times.
Rips is a magical storyteller, with a keen eye for the absurd, even in a place like Omaha, which, like his father, is not what it first appears to be. His solid Republican father, he discovers, had been raised in one
of Omaha"s most famous brothels, had insisted on hiring a collection of social misfits to work in his eyeglass factory, and had once showed up in his son"s high school principal"s office in pajamas. As Rips searches for the woman of the paintings, he meets, among others, an African American detective who swears by the clairvoyant powers of a Mind Machine, a homeless man with five million dollars in the bank, an underwear auctioneer, and a flying trapeze artist on her last sublime ride. Ultimately, Rips finds the woman, a father he never knew, and a profound sense that all around us the miraculous permeates the
everyday.
... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Search For One Man's Father
Rips' father was there for his upbringing, and yet somehow he wasn't. So when Rips discovers a dark secret behind a bureau, he begins to ask if he ever knew his father at all. I don't know if anyone else has thought to blend magical realism with memoir before, (even Garcia Marquez's bio was pretty down to earth), but that seems to be Rips' objective. Part philosophical meditation, he transform Omaha into a place where people fly, millionaires haunt abandoned buildings, and even the everyday seems strange. Definitely worth your time.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Read
I LOVED this book!!!There islightness and humour on the surface of a complex and deeply philosophical book.I read it twice. Highly recommended.

NYC ... Read more


8. Survival In Auschwitz
by Primo Levi
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684826801
Catlog: Book (1995-09-01)
Publisher: Touchstone
Sales Rank: 10087
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Survival in Auschwitz is a mostly straightforward narrative, beginning with Primo Levi's deportation from Turin, Italy, to the concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland in 1943. Levi, then a 25-year-old chemist, spent 10 months in the camp. Even Levi's most graphic descriptions of the horrors he witnessed and endured there are marked by a restraint and wit that not only gives readers access to his experience, but confronts them with it in stark ethical and emotional terms: "[A]t dawn the barbed wire was full of children's washing hung out in the wind to dry. Nor did they forget the diapers, the toys, the cushions and the hundred other small things which mothers remember and which children always need. Would you not do the same? If you and your child were going to be killed tomorrow, would you not give him something to eat today?" --Michael Joseph Gross ... Read more

Reviews (43)

5-0 out of 5 stars Passionate & instructive insight into the Holocaust
In a more perfect life, this book should be science fiction. Primo Levi deposits us in a world where the typical convivality that makes human society bearable has been eliminated and replaced by a horrible premise: humans may only live if they can do work useful to the state. "Survival in Auschwitz" plays the theme out. Those who are unable to work are immediately killed, using the most efficient means possible. Those who survive must find ways to maintain the illusion of usefulness with the least possible exertion. Instead of brotherhood, there is commerce, a black market where a stolen bar of soap is traded for a loaf of bread; the soap allows the owner to maintain a more healthy appearance while the bread feeds its owner for another day. We see property in its most base form. A spoon, a bowl, a few trinkets cleverly used, that is all a person can hold at a time. It's instructive to read this book as an insight into homelessness. What kind of place is this where we create humiliated zombies, shuffling behind their carts containing all their worldly possessions? How long can we let the State fight against the innate emotion that tells us that no-one should go hungry while we eat and no-one should be homeless while we have shelter?

What always amazes me about the Holocaust is the sheer improbability of the story of each of its survivors. This is the horror. For every shining genius of the stature of Primo Levi, there are thousands of other amazing people, gassed and murdered in the showers filled with Zyklon-B.

3-0 out of 5 stars Surviving a Real Nightmare
"We had learnt of our destination with relief. Auschwitz: a name without significance for us at the time, but it at least implied some place on this earth"

Primo Levi's memoir, Survival in Auschwitz, is a moving account of one young man's struggle for survival in the notorious Polish concentration camp. Levi employs a unique narrative structure, emphasizing the power of words both thematically and stylistically. Levi is only twenty-five when he enters the camp, and his storytelling does much to reveal the devastating impact that concentration camps had on the psyche and on the spirit. Levi confronts the harsh reality of what life in Auschwitz means, and how different it is from any form of civilization. In clear contrast to the camp's dehumanizing effects on its victims, Levi uses language to stir the hearts of his readers. In a kind of dictionary of suffering, he gives the reader the terms of his old existence: Buna, where young men labor in a factory that will never produce synthetic rubber; Ka-Be, the infirmary where Levi is granted a few weeks' rest to recover from a foot injury, and Selekcja, the Polish word for "selection," that seals the fate of those marked for the crematorium. Many readers wishing to learn more about the Holocaust or concentration camps will find Levi's work powerful and enriching. Perhaps more importantly, these readers will continue to ask Levi's questions in today's society.

3-0 out of 5 stars Primo: Still a Man
I'm not a fan of Holocaust narrative, mostly because I've read and been forced to read in school many of this type of novel. Primo's memoir, however, sticks in my mind unlike any other. What makes Survival in Auschwitz, aka If This Is A Man, unique is the complete objectivity he writes with. He records only fact, expressing no emotion whatsoever. The effect is unsentimental and wholly horrific. His role is a recorder of events for posterity, and asks the reader to judge for his/herself the morality of what took place in the camp, not only the actions of the Nazi guards but also the prisoners themselves. He lets the reader decide whether he retained his humanity in the face of complete dehuminization. If all you know of the Holocaust is contained in Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, it might benefit you to pick this one up.

5-0 out of 5 stars A gut-wrenching tale
Reading Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi was one of the most dificult experiences of my life. With each turn of the page came a new horror, I found it dififult to read more then a chapter at a time, and yet with horrific fascination I was also unable to put down the book. His stories of human nature rock the reader in a way that is unfathomable to someone who has never read a novel of this type. His original title "If this were a man" is far more descriptive then Survival in Auschwitz, and the reader will be shocked by the tales he tells.

4-0 out of 5 stars survival in auschwitz
Primo is an italian jew from italy. in 1943 the fasciest militia raided her town and home. the german militia took everybody in that town and put them on a train. they didnt know it yet but thay had just become prisoners of germany, prisoners of adolf hitler. everything they knew and loved gone in and instant. they never knew if they would ever see their homes again or even their best friends again. primo lived in auschwitz for over a year and a half, fighting for her life day after day. during the day, her and the other prisoners in the camp got 3 meals a day, but it isnt the kind of meals you adn i think of. day after day all they had to eat was a piece of bread and a bowl of soup. thats not very filling, not very filling at all. also during the day they would have to work or they would be killed on teh spot. life was rough for that year and a half. probably the worste time was during winter. each prisoner was issued one thin shirt and pants and wooden shoes. might i remind you wood isnt a really warm material until you light it on fire witch they couldnt do because they were infact there only pair of shoes. i liked this book because it is a true story, a personal story of a young womans life. living through such a horrible time, living in auschwitz the worste concentration camp there was. i liked how it told everthing that happened and not just the bad. i thought it was funny how some of the prisoners tried to hurt them-selves to get into the ka-be, work free for forty days. i dont like how it is a book. i would rather watch it instead of reading I HATE TO READ. i dont like how it happened the whole holacaust thing. there could have been a better way to tell your hatred. you dont have to captize a entire nationality just to prove there hatred. i would recommed this book to people who liek to read. if you dont liek to read then dont buy books or read them. this book is good for people who liek to learn about the holacaust or personal stories about what actually happened while in auscwtiz. ... Read more


9. Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of A Man Who Rescued A Million Yiddish Books
by Aaron Lansky
list price: $24.95
our price: $15.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1565124294
Catlog: Book (2004-10-05)
Publisher: Algonquin Books
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Book Description

In 1980 an entire body of Jewish literature--the physical remnant of Yiddish culture--was on the verge of extinction. Precious volumes that had survived Hitler and Stalin were being passed down from older generations of Jewish immigrants to their non-Yiddish-speaking children only to be discarded or destroyed. So Aaron Lansky, just twenty-three, issued a worldwide appeal for unwanted Yiddish works.

Lansky's passion led him to travel from house to house collecting the books--and the stories of these Jewish refugees and the vibrant intellectual world they inhabited. He and a team of volunteers salvaged books from dusty attics, crumbling basements, demolition sites, and dumpsters. When they began, scholars thought that fewer than seventy thousand Yiddish books existed. So far 1.5 million volumes have been saved!

Filled with tender and sometimes hilarious stories, this is an inspirational account of a man who had a vision and made a difference. It is a collective love song to the brilliant Yiddish writers--from Mendele to Sholem Aleichem to I. B. Singer--whose lasting cultural relevance is evident on every page.
... Read more


10. Maus II : A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began (Maus)
by ART SPIEGELMAN
list price: $14.00
our price: $9.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679729771
Catlog: Book (1992-09-01)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 9302
Average Customer Review: 4.31 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

MAUS was the first half of the tale of survival of the author's parents, charting their desperate progress from prewar Poland Auschwitz.Here is the continuation, in which the father survives the camp and is at last reunited with his wife. ... Read more

Reviews (26)

4-0 out of 5 stars touching and honest
Summary:
Art (Artie) Spiegelman is a cartoonist and the son of holocaust survivors Vladek and Anna Spiegelman. Art decided to tell his parents' story in graphic novel (comic book) form. The first book, Maus, covers the meeting and marriage of Vladek and Anna and follows their story up until they enter Auschwitz during WWII.

This book follows their story from when they enter the camp until they are finally freed by the Russians. This part of the story is also related in pieces as Art visits his father. Vladek was surprisingly resourceful as a camp prisoner and was continuously able to find positions where he was needed, helping keep him alive. Anna, on the other hand, wasn't always so lucky but she managed to stay alive. For both of them, much of what kept them alive was the hope of seeing the other person, which Vladek was amazingly able to arrange despite the men and women living in separate camps.

Eventually the war ends and they return, separately, to their hometown in Poland, though they have no knowledge of whether or not the other is alive. Thus, when Vladek, who arrives last, finally makes it home, it makes for a touching reunion.

My Comments:
This second book is definitely more touching than the first, though this is probably in large part due to the suffering the Spiegelman's experienced. This book also does a good job of bringing the story closure, though it took quite a while for this book to be published after the first one was.

Once again, the author is critical of himself by illustrating a rocky relationship with his father rather than everything being rosy. This self-criticism leads to my final point. I think the allure of these two books is that the author doesn't try to dress things up in a pretty package. He does his best to present things as they actually were (at least, as they were seen by his father). The result is that you see things like children having their heads bashed in by Nazi's slamming them against walls and a son who only grudgingly helps his father but at the same time uses him for his story (that sounds a bit harsh as I'm sure the son was inspired to tell the story just to share it, but he also made money off of it, so he did use him in a sense).

As I did with the first, I would recommend this book. Keep in mind that the book makes no pretense to be an objective treatise on the holocaust - this is a survivor's tale and it is at the subjective, individual level of one person who made it through. It is compelling and hopefully a warning for future generations about the potential maliciousness humans are capable of forcing on other humans.

5-0 out of 5 stars A "must-read" for WWII history buffs.

If you have ANY interest in WWII history or specifically the Holocaust, I implore you to pick up these two titles (Maus I and II). They are easy-to-read, informative, and HISTORICALLY accurate.

The author's/artist's method of detailing his own struggles with his family's past and present combined with his father's narrative of survival during the Nazi regime is quite effective. The reader is drawn into the story on two fronts - as Vladek (the father) the reluctant but resourceful witness to the Holocaust, and as Art (the son), who is searching for answers to questions on many different levels.

To those who are looking for Military History, I agree with the previous reviewer. This is not about the military. Then again, I don't think it was supposed to be.

In addition, people who have trouble with abstract anthropomorphisms should steer clear. If, having read Animal Farm, you found yourself fuming that the blue collar worker was being represented by a horse, you should also probably skip these.

Otherwise, read them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
The brilliant continuation of the MAUS story, I think I enjoyed the second part even more than the first. It's in this book that Spiegelman really brings out the connection between what happened then in Europe and what is happening now in America.

This is a more interesting part of the story from a character standpoint. The relationship between Art and his father Vladek is painted in its most frustrating and endearing tones in this volume. An amazing piece of historical fiction, and even better feat of interpersonal storytelling.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cuts Through the Numbness
There is only one problem with Holocaust movies and books such as Schindler's List, The Pianist, and Night: there are a lot of them. They tell these grim, heartbreaking stories which we ought never forget, lest we repeat them, but I fear that the overload of Holocaust images sometimes does the opposite. There is so much that they almost take on a marked unreality. We can almost become numb to them.

Then, there comes Maus, with the same type of horrors, the same type of events, but it manages to break through that numbness. The visual images are somewhat problematic, but I think it almost serves to make them more compelling, helping the bare emotion come screaming off the page. The modern relationship with Vladek and Art adds to the immediacy and modern relavence of the story also.

Maus is a powerful read and one which is essential for anyone studying the Holocaust.

3-0 out of 5 stars A continuation of a riveting story...
I strongly recommend reading the first Maus before starting this book. In this book, the author's relationship with his father is explored further, and we get to see how his father survived the Holocaust. The horrors this one man went through make it seem unbelievable that he is alive to tell his story. The theme of Art's struggle of accepting his religion is also explored as a sub-theme. The illustrations are also much more detailed than a first thought, so make sure you take a good look at them. ... Read more


11. All But My Life : A Memoir
by Gerda Weissmann Klein
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0809015803
Catlog: Book (1995-03-31)
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Sales Rank: 18575
Average Customer Review: 4.95 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying journey.

Gerda's serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German labor camps. Over the next few years Gerda experienced the slow, inexorable stripping away of "all but her life."By the end of the war she had lost her parents, brother, home, possessions, and community; even the dear friends she made in the labor camps, with whom she had shared so many hardships, were dead.

Despite her horrifying experiences, Klein conveys great strength of spirit and faith in humanity. In the darkness of the camps, Gerda and her young friends manage to create a community of friendship and love. Although stripped of the essence of life, they were able to survive the barbarity of their captors. Gerda's beautifully written story gives an invaluable message to everyone. It introduces them to last century's terrible history of devastation and prejudice, yet offers them hope that the effects of hatred can be overcome.
... Read more

Reviews (66)

4-0 out of 5 stars Moving account of Holocaust experience
In *All but My Life*, Gerda Weissmann Klein tells us the story of a young girl forced into the events of the Nazi Holocaust. The story of a family torn apart never to see one another again. The story of Nazi work camps and death camps and seemingly endless inhumanity. Sadly, this story was her own.

Klein provided a heartwrenching account of the events leading from her teens to her adult years. We met her family, lived vicariously through her relationships with friends and neighbors and hoped and prayed the Nazis never capturedd the Weissmanns. But the inevitable occurred.

Over the years that Gerda was a prisoner of the Nazis, we learned of the unspeakable acts the Germans performed. And we cried with Gerda through her experiences. And we finally felt the joy of freedom and the love relationship that ensued.

*All but My Life* should go up on our shelves next to *Schindler's List* and *The Diary of Anne Frank*. It's an absolute must read and a classic. Thank you, Gerda, for showing all of us what must not ever happen again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Saved by her boots--and her soul
On the hot June day that Gerda Weissmann left her home for the last time, her father insisted that she wear her hiking boots. Gerda resisted, but an unspoken plea in her father's eye convinced her to strap them on. During a death march from January through April of 1945, those boots saved Gerda Weissmann's life. Many other women died of cold and starvation, but most fell for simple lack of footwear. Her camp sister, with whom she survived the worst horrors in several concentration and slave labor camps, died of exhaustion at a water pump minutes after American liberators freed the women from the march.

Ms. Klein's tale about her boots, screened at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, led me to her book. I wanted to know every detail--although, over the years, I have been privileged to hear many personal accounts from Holocaust survivors I know. Too many still cannot not speak about what they lived through. Millions never had the chance at all. By itself, the silence of the majority makes Ms. Klein's testimony priceless, like every other personal Holocaust chronicle. So does her reminder not to take anything for granted. So does her gem of a soul. Alyssa A. Lappen

5-0 out of 5 stars Should be high school required reading
As a Protestant with German ancestors I wish every high school would require this book. Poetically written with emotional sensitivity this far surpasses 'Lord of the Flies' and 'Catcher in the Rye' that my daughter and so many high schoolers are STILL required to read. This is true, it is historical, it is politcal, it is human, we can learn from it on EVERY level. Not only that we come to love Gerda, the author, in the reading of it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A reader's favorite book
This book held my attention from page one, until the very end. I actually have read this book( or at least large parts of it) ten or more times. I was so riveted by Gerda's story that I went to my local library to find out MORE about Gerda. She has written a few other books, interesting too, but this is her best. ALL BUT MY LIFE so impressed me that I felt the need to visit the US Holocaust Museum in Washington,DC. I have chosen this book for my book club selection next month, although I really read it the first time about 5 years ago. I was initially concerned that it was not "mainstream" enough for my book buddies, but...we will see. I have read voraciously for my entire reading life, which would be about 40 years or so, and I think this book IS my absolute favorite.

5-0 out of 5 stars impressive... truly.
This book was assigned by my English teacher. The first page, i thought of reading it as a chore. After that, i couldnt put it down. i read the whole thing in two days. It was remarkable!! This showed what the Holocaust was really about. The Holocaust wasn't just about the millions of Jews that were killed- it was about real people being killed, real people losing all hope to live, among Gerda. When liberation day came around, it didn't mean much. The very few survivors still had a life to rebuild. Gerda told her own remarkable story of what happened to her. Gerda goes from camp to camp, hardship to hardship, but learning valuable lessons about life in gerneral on the way. This book deserves way more than 5 stars- everyone should read it. ... Read more


12. Maus a Survivors Tale: My Father Bleeds History
by ART SPIEGELMAN
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394747232
Catlog: Book (1986-08-12)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 13217
Average Customer Review: 4.38 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Some historical events simply beggar any attempt at description--the Holocaust is one of these. Therefore, as it recedes and the people able to bear witness die, it becomes more and more essential that novel, vigorous methods are used to describe the indescribable. Examined in these terms, Art Spiegelman's Maus is a tremendous achievement, from a historical perspective as well as an artistic one.

Spiegelman, a stalwart of the underground comics scene of the 1960s and '70s, interviewed his father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor living outside New York City, about his experiences. The artist then deftly translated that story into a graphic novel. By portraying a true story of the Holocaust in comic form--the Jews are mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs, the French frogs, and the Americans dogs--Spiegelman compels the reader to imagine the action, to fill in the blanks that are so often shied away from. Reading Maus, you are forced to examine the Holocaust anew.

This is neither easy nor pleasant. However, Vladek Spiegelman and his wife Anna are resourceful heroes, and enough acts of kindness and decency appear in the tale to spur the reader onward (we also know that the protagonists survive, else reading would be too painful). This first volume introduces Vladek as a happy young man on the make in pre-war Poland. With outside events growing ever more ominous, we watch his marriage to Anna, his enlistment in the Polish army after the outbreak of hostilities, his and Anna's life in the ghetto, and then their flight into hiding as the Final Solution is put into effect. The ending is stark and terrible, but the worst is yet to come--in the second volume of this Pulitzer Prize-winning set. --Michael Gerber ... Read more

Reviews (106)

4-0 out of 5 stars an interesting way to write about the holocaust
I just read "Maus" for my history class and thought this was a great way to write about the holocaust. While keeping all of the seriousness, Spiegelman chose a way write which would interest readers of every age. By making it into a comic book, it will definitely attract many teenagers and college students and teach them lots of interesting facts about world war II. I thought Spiegelman did a great job cutting back and forth between his father's holocaust stories to the relationship between his father and him, it continued to remind me this was all a true story. Overall, this was a very depressing story and also a very informative one. All the stories about Spiegelman's father continuously running from the Nazi's made me realize what I have in life. After I was done, I was still blown away that Vladek survived the holocaust, there were so many times where he could have been killed, starved to death or just times when he could have given up and decided that was it. The part where Vladek described the Nazi's killing crying children by grabbing them by the feet and smashing them into a wall was just horrible, I will never be able to imagine what any Jew went through in the 40's. To sum it up, I would definitely reccomend this book to people of all ages, a very unique book with lots of style. I'm really looking forward to reading the sequel, I'm sure it's just as good.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very good, very touching, very worthwhile.
I will admit I had to read this for a class I was taking about modern Jewish history. But I also chose to take said class and was very curious about the subject matter. Maus was the third and last biographical work that we read in class (Solomon Maimon's and Pauline Wengeroff's autobiographies being the others) and it was easily the most unique.

When I told friends that I was reading a comic book about the Holocaust I received many strange looks. But there was always one response that made people understand: The author's father survived the Holocaust and he wanted to tell his father's story in the medium he knew best. Art Spiegelman puts unsurpassed passion into this work that ties his father and mother's struggles in wartime Poland as well as his own struggles with his geriatric father thirty years later.

Told with a serious tone overlaid with characters where Jews are mice, Poles are pigs, Germans are cats, and the other nationalities are equally represented in animal form, Maus proved to be an extremely unique and endlessly fascinating and tragic biography. I have never been one for reading comic books, but Art Spiegelman's effort can do nothing less than elevate the respect anyone could have for the art form.

2-0 out of 5 stars Subject matter overshadows a very mediocre work
If one can truly see past all the cultural signifiers and content obeisance attached to Maus and simply judge the work on craft alone, one will find a fairly pedestrian work, well told, yet instantly forgettable.

Spiegelman has crafted a shrewd piece of media here, he has mined the true-life experiences of his grandfather to fashion a non-fiction biographic tale of internment in a concentration camp, replacing the Germans with cats and the Jews with mice. Such a choice is guaranteed critic-proof simply because of the subject matter. Publicly, one is not allowed to dislike Maus or find it flawed in any fundamental way; it fosters a mild form of cultural fascism against the dissenter. Recently discussing Maus with someone who thought it profound, I found myself dodging bullets of anti-Semitism and callousness towards the human spirit. But we must understand that Maus the graphic novel has virtually disappeared, its place taken by Maus the "Holocaust for a new Generation" and Maus the "culturally significant signpost of human dignity."

Granted the story is compelling. If Maus had been told as a straight prose work of non-fiction it would have most certainly been published and given average to good marks, quickly joining the legion of Holocaust literature. But should we elevate Maus to the ranks of the graphic novel pantheon just because Spiegelman is Jewish and he used his authentic Jewish roots to tell a story of the Holocaust in pictures? I counter arguments that posit Spiegelman's work as introducing the Holocaust to a new generation (sort of like re-inventing Shakespeare for the geek set?) with the idea that the generation itself should begin to question its own intellectual vigor when we must teach our children about the holocaust using a comic strip. In that case, forget the Bible, why not teach it through a graphic 'Chronicles of Jesus' format, allowing our children to get the story while abandoning the thorny arguments and contradictions that make reading any work of art a challenge to the mind?

I repeat, do we give Maus credibility for simply choosing subject matter? If we do, then we must re-think the way we judge literary works. We must then judge every piece of holocaust literature to be superlative, and regardless of its actual merit, place it on a hallowed shelf above all other literature. We must then judge every piece of art or media the same. In this new critical paradigm, if a graffiti artist painted a series of stick figures across a barren factory wall but above them sprayed the name "Auschwitz," we should take care not remove them. However, if that same artist simply painted a wall full of stick figures, they should be removed post-haste and a steep fine levied against the artist.

I am tired of works being given credibility for subject matter and not for craft. Maus is not a bad book, and may well foster early discussions with children or adolescents about the holocaust. But judged by artistic merit and craft alone it hardly belongs on the same shelf as Watchmen, From Hell, or Miller's Batman writings. In those works, the writers crafted dense literary works that truly transcended the genre and used the form in novel and interesting ways. They did not rely on content alone to sell mediocre work.

3-0 out of 5 stars Less than I expected
I'm Jewish and easily depressed, so I expected to be very moved by this tale. But I wasn't. I was freaked out-Art portrays Jewish life well and I was honestly scared for the characters-but not moved. I did not cry. Then again, I'd probably give it four stars if it weren't for my high expectations. I'm definitely definitely going to buy the next installment though.

I disagree with people who say Polish people are portrayed negatively in this book, aside from the fact that he portrays them as pigs. Most of the Poles in this book were nice-they hide in the house of a Polish lady, there housekeeper is Polish. Of course, at one point you have Polish people being anti-semitic but what do you expect? No Poles actually hurt the Spiegelman's, though they do occaisonally put them in jeopardy by yelling that there is a Jew in the yard. I think the animals are meant to portray stereotypes. Vladek has disdain for the Poles, and Art shows that by making them pigs. That doesn't mean that the Poles are bad, that's just how Vladek is.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful comic book!
This book is one that caught me in its clutches instantly! For those who are interested in the Holocaust and are sick of stories of Anne Frank(no offense), this is perfect! Summary: The author of this book, Art Speigelman, goes to visit his father, Vladek, and learn of his story of living in Hitler's Europe. Art also tries to understand his father's changes that have happened due to his experiences. Art's stepmother, Mala, complains that Vladek is too uptight and doesn't care about her. Vladek complains that all Mala cares about is his money. Art's struggles show how even the children of the survivors have to survive. Review: This book took me away. For a story of the Holocaust, this hits a home run. Never before have I read a book like this. A tale like this deserves to be read by everyone. ... Read more


13. The Complete Maus : A Survivor's Tale
by ART SPIEGELMAN
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679406417
Catlog: Book (1996-11-19)
Publisher: Pantheon
Sales Rank: 26413
Average Customer Review: 4.45 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Volumes I & II in paperback of this 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning illustrated narrative of Holocaust survival. ... Read more

Reviews (107)

5-0 out of 5 stars More subtle than can be understood in a single reading
These books are an easy and fast read, but by no means are they simple. In two slim comic books, Art Spiegelman chronicles his parents' movement from comfortable homes in Poland to the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, and from there to a surreally banal afterlife in upstate New York. We watch the destruction of the Holocaust continue in Spiegelman's father's transformation from a bright, good-looking youth to a miserly neurotic, his mother's deterioration from a sensitive, sweet girl into a suicide, and in the author's own unhappy interactions with his parents.

I have read some of the most negative reviews of these books, and I respectfully disagree. Some negative reviews ("Spiegelman is a jerk") castigate Spiegelman for his shamefully self-interested milking of his father's life and the Holocaust. Other negative reviews find fault with the unoriginality of the story, or discover historical inaccuracies, self-contradictions, or simplifications in the tale. Finally, a set of reviews are upset with Spiegelman's coding of people of different nationalities as animals(especially the Poles, who were also victimized by the Nazis but are depicted as pigs in the comics.)

The first criticism is both deserved and unfair. Deserved, because Spiegelman profits by the pain and death of millions, including his own family. Unfair, because Spiegelman himself consciously provides the basis for our criticism that he mocked and neglected his elderly father at the same time that he fed his own success upon his father's tales. The two volumes echo with his regret and unexpiable guilt at his treatment of his parents, and at his own success and survival. To attack Spiegelman for these things is like scolding a man in the midst of his self-immolation.

The second type of criticism finds _Maus_ to be sophomoric, inaccurate, or repetitive of other Holocaust survivor's experiences. The defense here is that Maus is the story of a single family, seen through the eyes of a single man (Vladek Spiegelman), and filtered again through his son. It is almost certain that the elderly Vladek forgot, exaggerated, or hid details, just as it is certain that his son summarized and misunderstood. However, the quasi-fictionalized format of the comic book throws this subjectivity into relief. The destroyed diaries of Spiegelman's mother are a reminder of the millions of life stories left untold, including stories perhaps too horrible and shameful for the survivors to reveal. _Maus_ does not claim to be an objective, authoritative history of the Holocaust, and in fact tries to emphasize its own limitations.

While other works may better convey the Jewish experience in the Holocaust, the innovative format of _Maus_ justifies its existence, as it allows the story to reach a greater audience.

Finally, many have objected to the negative stereotyping of the many peoples appearing in the book, especially the Poles. Spiegelman draws the Jews as innocent mice, but the Germans as bloodthirsty cats, and the Poles as selfish pigs. More amusingly (because they appear infrequently in the story) the French are drawn as frogs, the Swedes as reindeer, and the British as cold fish. The Americans are dogs, mainly friendly bow-wow dogs but also sometimes cold-eyed predators capable of pouncing on a mouse or rat. I believe that the wrongness of stereotypes was a major reason why Spiegelman used them. The Nazis are recorded as having called the Jews "vermin" and the Poles "pigs". Whether they had the qualities of these animals or not, they were treated as such... and such they were forced to become despite themselves. The Jews had to hide, hoard, and deceive; the Poles were compelled to act out of self-interest just to survive.

In other words, I think that Spiegelman's stereotypes were a deliberate choice. The WHOLE POINT of _Maus_ is how the dehumanization of the Holocaust twisted people beyond their capacities... how the camps tried to make people as ugly and despicable as their worst racial stereotypes, by making them all alike in their fear. Sometimes they succeeded.

Neither Poles nor Germans are depicted as only selfish, cowardly, and cruel in _Maus_. In fact, there are many Polish in Spiegelman's books who are shown as fellow-sufferers, or kind despite the risks to their own lives, just as there were Jews who betrayed their own. Look closely at the drawings-- I open Maus II to a random page, and see both pigs and mice in the prison suits, both as capos and victims. Who is the kind priest who renews Vladek's hope on page 28? A Pole! Even the Germans are seen to suffer from the war, caught by powers beyond their control. Meanwhile, Vladek himself is shown to be an inflexible racist (II, p. 98).

I argue, therefore, that the above criticisms of _Maus_ show a hasty reading of the books and poor comprehension of how an artist(even of non-fiction) chooses to convey a theme.

As a non-European, I have no personal investment in Jewish, German, or Polish points of view. However, as a second-generation American and child of war survivors [a civil war, so we are both victims and oppressors], I have a chord that resonates with the story of the Spiegelmans. I just re-read "Maus II" this afternoon and found to my amazement that it was still able to draw tears. In fact, when I first read the Maus books ten years ago I don't recall them affecting me so deeply... but I was younger then and had only an intellectual understanding of many things, such as love, fear, guilt, death, and weakness.

I wholeheartedly recommend these books to those who are willing to read them more than once. If you are not moved by them now, perhaps later you will be. Meanwhile, let's do our best to stop such suffering around the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Modern Allegory
A veteran of the underground comic scene in the 1970s and a more recently a cover artist for the New Yorker, in the late 80s, Art Spiegelman undertook a project of interviewing his father Vladek, a Polish Jew who survived the holocaust in Auschwitz. He turned the narrative into an allegorical, graphical representation of the ordeal, in which Europe is a menagerie of humans behaving at our raw, animalistic worst, and perhaps best as well. Umberto Eco claimed that "Maus is a book that cannot be put down, truly, even to sleep." This was certainly true for me when I read it. Perhaps the only 'comic book' (as inappropriate as that term may be here) to win a Pulitzer Prize, Maus is gripping and compelling. Some have criticized it for relating simply a story which was no more remarkable than millions of others. Can anything different be said, however, of Night, or The Diary of Anne Frank? Does that make it any less important that the story be told? And yet, in Spiegelman's cat and mouse play, where moral virtues, failings, and decrepitude are writ large, Maus is also exceptional because of the strength of its allegory, which is almost Spenserian in its strength.

1-0 out of 5 stars Yet Another Sanctimonious Telling of the Holocaust
This is yet another sanctimonious telling of the Holocaust. Maus is the blatant type of trivialization being taught to our children that leaves most unaware of the other victims of the holocaust. For American school children the Holocaust has become synomous with Jewish history. Maus simply reinforces most historical literature which focuses on the six million Jewish victims to the exclusion of the nine million Gentile victims. This book goes so far as to portray one of the Nazis other targets, the Poles, as fattened pigs going about their business unmolested by the Germans! There were three million non-Jewish Poles who perished in this tragedy, many trying to save their Jewish neighbors. Shame!

"The genocidal policies of the Nazis resulted in the deaths of about as many Polish Gentiles as Polish Jews, thus making them co-victims in a Forgotten Holocaust. This Holocaust has been largely ignored because historians who have written on the subject of the Holocaust have chosen to interpret the tragedy in exclusivistic terms--namely, as the most tragic period in the history of the Jewish Diaspora. To them, the Holocaust was unique to the Jews, and they therefore have had little or nothing to say about the nine million Gentiles, including three million Poles, who also perished in the greatest tragedy the world has ever known. Little wonder that many people who experienced these events share the feeling of Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, who anxious when the meaning of the word Holocaust undergoes gradual modifications, so that the word begins to belong to the history of the Jews exclusively, as if among the victims there were not also millions of Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, and prisoners of other nationalities." Richard C. Lukas, preface to The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles under German Occupation 1939-1944

1-0 out of 5 stars Anti-Polish Propaganda
While this a moving account of one families experience during the holocaust, the depiction of Poles as pigs in Spiegelman's "Maus" an unfair and highly insulting caricature. Poles suffered horribly under Nazi occupation. No nations suffered worse. Six million Poles were murdered. Roughly half were Jewish and half Gentile. In fact exterminating Poles was also part of the Nazi master-plan. They were victims and to portray them as pigs is a grave injustice. While I read the reviews pointing out pigs have positive traits or are neutral animals, it is disingenuous to present the selection of the pig as representative of the Pole as anything but a slur. Germans are shown as cats. This is no wonder since cats chase mice. Apart from that, cats are quite nice animals. This, however, does not pertain to pigs. I suggest when reading this book you research the positive events in the 1000 history of Polish Jews. For starters, visit Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Over 11,000 'Righteous Gentiles' are honored; almost 5,000 are Polish. These are non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

5-0 out of 5 stars A landmark comics work
"Maus," Art Spiegelman's moving tale of the Holocaust and how it impacts a family a generation later, is hailed as a comics classic for a reason. It is a landmark work that transcends the term "comics."

Through the seemingly absurd decision to use animals in place of people - Jews are mice, for instance, while Nazis are cats - Spiegelman manages to avoid coming across as heavy-handed, exploitative and melodramatic. The reader never feels that they are reading an educational tome with badly drawn people better suited for school than compelling entertainment. Instead, through the use of universal cartoon imagery, the emotional tug of the story is successfully conveyed.

Two threads are woven throughout. The first deals with the Holocaust directly, from the years before Jews were taken to the camps and then to release. The second thread deals with Spiegelman's relationship with his father many years later, and that relationship's ups and downs as the author tries to get the oral history he needs to tell the tale of "Maus." All of the pain, confusion, death, turmoil and horror of the Holocaust comes home, as does the autobiographical tale interwoven throughout of the author's relationship with his father - who is also the central figure of Holocaust survival.

Modern editions of this book ("Maus" was originally published in serial form) are generally produced very well. The two-book slipcase offered here is sturdy and attractive to look at. The pages are printed on thick, glossy stock. The black and white artwork really shines, every stroke visible and vibrant. Mine has been read multiple times and still looks great.

"Maus" is compelling reading that requires no great love of comics to enjoy. History lovers, those interested in the Holocaust, and people who like stories about family struggles will enjoy this. Readers will quickly forget they are reading a comic, instead becoming wrapped up in the story Spiegelman has to tell. A highly recommended buy. ... Read more


14. Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
by Eva Hoffman
list price: $13.95
our price: $11.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140127739
Catlog: Book (1990-02-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 29705
Average Customer Review: 4.46 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

The condition of exile is an exaggeration of the process of change and loss that many people experience as they grow and mature, leaving behind the innocence of childhood. Eva Hoffman spent her early years in Cracow, among family friends who, like her parents, had escaped the Holocaust and were skeptical of the newly imposed Communist state. Hoffman's parents managed to immigrate to Canada in the 1950s, where Eva was old enough to feel like a stranger--bland food, a quieter life, and schoolmates who hardly knew where Poland was. Still, there were neighbors who knew something of Old World ways, and a piano teacher who was classically Middle European in his neurotic enthusiasm for music. Her true exile came in college in Texas, where she found herself among people who were frightened by and hostile to her foreignness. Later, at Harvard, Hoffman found herself initially alienated by her burgeoning intellectualism; her parents found it difficult to comprehend. Her sense of perpetual otherness was extended by encounters with childhood friends who had escaped Cracow to grow up in Israel, rather than Canada or the United States, and were preoccupied with soldiers, not scholars. Lost in Translation is a moving memoir that takes the specific experience of the exile and humanizes it to such a degree that it becomes relevant to the lives of a wider group of readers. ... Read more

Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars Escape from Poland did not always equal paradise
In 1959, when she was 13yo, Eva Hoffman fled Poland with her family to British Columbia to escape the rigors of the communist regime. It did not prove to be the tremendous relief she expected, and the book begins with a section titled Paradise, in which the author reminisces about her life back in the Old Country.
The immigrant experience, a new language, new culture, new food - everything was traumatic for her. It became so bad that she felt her brain stopped working for a time.
The most fascinating parts of this book are those that take the reader back into Poland for a behind the scenes glimpse of the 'good life' lived by the middle class. Altho the whole family, plus a live-in maid, lived in just 3 rooms, they lived well, attending the theater and opera regularly. All this, of course, ended when Poland's gov't began persecuting Jews in the late 50s.
Fortunately for her and for us, Hoffman recovered from her period of despair and depression and went on to become editor of the New York Times Book Review.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moving and emotional
This book is a must. It explores the difficulties of learning to express oneself in a new language. Although I have never experienced this myself, it does make you consider the link between language and experience and how sometimes there are no words available to say what you really feel. Hoffman draws you in to her narrative with ease, despite the difficulties she expresses. It is a moving insight into her life as an immigrant and her fellings of alienation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Greater as literature than as life
It is impossible to not recognize in the sensibility of the writer of this work a great power of perception and intelligence. The story of the transition from world to world, from the Poland of her childhood to the Canada of the latter part of her youth, and young adulthood is too told as the story of a family ' lost in translation'. On the purely human individual level there is an exceptional story told here by an exceptional story - teller. There are too a number of remarkably moving scenes , I think especially of her re-meeting the love of her Polish childhood, and the kind of understanding they have for each other though they now live cultures away.
I nonetheless found a certain absence in the work, an absence in the making as end of the story real human connection beyond that given in childhood and early years. Every writer as Henry James has his ' donnee' the subject and material which he is given, and is not to be criticized for having. Eva Hoffman's is this lostness in translation, this perpetual not- at- homeness, but it nonetheless makes of her story at least to my mind , one which however successful on the purely literary level presents a life lacking in the higher significance of giving to and being with others.

2-0 out of 5 stars Unsympathetic
I didn't care for this book all that much. First, her adolescent experience as an immigrant to Canada seems heavily covered over by later-acquired learning in the philosphy of structuralism, semiotics, etc, all very fashionable nowdays. The book has more the feel of a post-mortem analysis than a personal memoir, and in trying to be both it fails on both levels.

Second, I didn't find her a sympathetic character, because she herself seemed to have so little sympathy for others: Canadians were boring, dull, undemonstrative; North-American teenage life superficial; the local Jewish community obsessed with status and the notion of 'better' or 'worse' people. etc. I got the feeling of her portraying herself as a true and sensitive (European!) heart among the barbarians and the uncomprehending. Sorry, doesn't wash.

4-0 out of 5 stars Insight into 2nd Language Acquisition
Eva Hoffman's autobiography provides valuable insight into the process of second-language acquisition. Over the span of her life, she indirectly reveals numerous factors that led to her acquisition of English. These influencing factors are both internal and external, both successful and unsuccessful. Particular internal factors that I feel were most influential in her success were her motivation and high level of intelligence. Externally, the most significant factor was that she had the opportunity to acquire the language in its natural environment rather than solely in the classroom. It is these elements, along with various others, that ultimately lead Eva to a native-like fluency.

Personal attributes such as intelligence and motivation may not be the most significant factor in the acquisition of another language; but with some individuals it may contribute to how quickly a language is acquired and possibly the depth of acquisition (especially with the lexicon). In Eva's case, extensive reading in her adolescent years undoubtedly contributed to her heightened intellectual capacity in later years. Her early studies also seem reflect a passion for knowledge and experience that she feeds with the books from her bi-monthly visits to the library, "...I sniff the aged smell; I read a few words; some of them have illustrations at which I look greedily; then I have to choose from the riches of Araby." (27) The combination of intelligence with a strong passion for learning clearly plays a role in Eva's success at acquiring English.

It is this strong will to learn that she brings with her to the New World and which is instrumental in the absorption of new vocabulary. She continues the practice of frequenting the library where she tells us, "Every day I learn new words, new expressions. I pick them up from school exercises, from conversations, from the books I take out of Vancouver's well-lit library." (106) It seems pretty clear that lexical acquisition is contingent upon the amount of time one puts into the process. Motivation is likely the most significant factor that contributes to the amount of time one spends trying to learn new words. For Eva, her passion for obtaining new words played a vital role in acquiring her impressive vocabulary.

Various factors appear to contribute to her motivation; but particularly it is her search for self-identity as well as pressure from her peers that seem to motivate her most. Part of her problem with self-identity may be related to her age and part may be related to the circumstances of her new environment. She states, "Because I'm not heard, I feel I'm not seen. My words often seem to baffle others." (147) Understandably, isolation from her peers is frustrating enough for her to strive to be 'seen' which she initiates through writing, "I learn English through writing, and, in turn, writing gives me a written self." (121)

The pressure involved in 'fitting in' is difficult enough for native teenagers; being a foreigner would only increase that difficulty. She struggles to get rid of her accent because her peers accuse her of faking it in order to appear more interesting. When she tries to tell a joke to her friends, her lack of success reminds her that she is still an outsider. Even her close friends remind her of this, "'Oh God,' Penny says, 'Sometimes I think you're hopeless.'" (148)

In regard to external influences, it is the environment in which language acquisition takes place that is likely the most influential factor in successfully acquiring the target language. The shift from classroom study in Poland to total immersion in Vancouver provides a basis for Eva to thoroughly explore English. I've met people in various cities throughout Poland who have studied English for years, some for nearly a decade. The common denominator these people all share is that they hardly speak any English (what they do speak is broken and difficult to understand.) I can empathize with this situation. I studied Polish for 3 years before moving to Krakow and I feel I learned more in five months of study there than I did in the previous three years.

Every day social activity is difficult when you are forced to rely upon an inadequate form of communication. It is easy to sympathize with the frustration she feels in daily conversation, "Much of the time, it takes an enormous effort on my part to follow her fast chatter and to keep saying yes and no in the right places, to attempt to respond." (113) Difficulties in vocal participation can restrict social interaction and consequentially lead to isolation and loneliness. Eva seems to conquer this dilemma through persistence and the passing of time.

In addition to social isolation, linguistic prejudices also seem to play a role in developing and sustaining her persistence in achieving fluency. Some of these perceived prejudices are probably nothing more than baggage from her homeland, "The class-linked notion that I transfer wholesale from Poland is that belonging to a 'better' class of people is absolutely dependent on speaking a 'better' language." (123) Speech still acts as a class signifier today, but probably not to the same degree as one would find in Poland.

Along with the social difficulties that accompany immigration, Eva has to deal with some of the cultural presuppositions that effect pragmatic success in learning a new language. She points to the example of saying, "thank you", implying something to be thanked for, which in Poland would come across as rude. Likewise, in addition to mere grammatical competence, Eva must learn how to apply the language that she is learning. She draws a helpful analogy by equating language acquisition to music. Simply learning the keys and sounds of an instrument is not enough to produce a song; likewise, learning the syntax and lexicon is not enough to produce a sufficient knowledge of language. One must acquire a pragmatic competence that includes absorption of new presuppositions. This is most likely to occur from living in the environment. ... Read more


15. Passover Plot
by Hugh J. Schonfield
list price: $51.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553149288
Catlog: Book (1977-06-01)
Publisher: Bantam Books (Mm)
Sales Rank: 466700
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Hard to read cover to cover
My copy was printed in 1968, not 1977. The volume is impressively footnoted, which makes one conscious of one's inadequacy to test Schonfeld's text. I am not a Christian and was surprised to hear that Jesus was but one of many siblings and that he was not the Virgin Mary's first child. So Virgin immediately does not have the popularized meaning. I never forgot the PLOT, however. I have literally tried to get further along in the book every decade sice I first bought it. It's a book you have to be in the mood for. I got Kazantzaki'd out of the subject. Can't remember the name of it offhand: it was the one where he wondered from monastery to monastery -- from Thraki and Macedonia to Italy, etc. -- for 40 years of his life and then turned to Communism and then threw it all in. What a waste! I'm not a religionist, so I probably shouldn't read these books where people have made the quest of God their quest of life. They are thought-provoking, but seldom do you find friends who've read the same tomes. But it's worth the read, I suppose! ... Read more


16. Leap into Darkness : Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe
by LEO BRETHOLZ, MICHAEL OLESKER
list price: $13.95
our price: $11.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385497059
Catlog: Book (1999-09-14)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 213644
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Leap into Darkness is the gripping, action-packed account of a young boy's series of audacious escapes from the Nazis' Final Solution. Leo Bretholz survived the Holocaust by escaping from the Nazis (and others) not once, but seven times during his almost seven-year ordeal crisscrossing war-torn Europe.

He leaped from trains, outran police, and hid in attics, cellars, anywhere that offered a few more seconds of safety. First he swam the River Sauer at the German-Belgian border. Later he climbed the Alps on feet so battered they froze to his socks--only to be turned back at the Swiss border. He crawled out from under the barbed wire of a French holding camp, and hid in a village in the Pyrenees while gendarmes searched it. And in the dark hours of one November morning, he escaped from a train bound for Auschwitz.

Leap into Darkness is the sweeping memoir of one Jewish boy's survival, and of the family and the world he left behind.
... Read more

Reviews (21)

4-0 out of 5 stars Austria was very involved in the Holocaust
The part that most struck me was when he wrote "Before the war would end, little Austria would supply nearly half of the staff of all Nazi concentration camps and death camps." and the story he tells of being a boy in Vienna in March 1938"when Hitler entered the city and found a quarter of a million people rapturously cheering him". He says his cousin Sonja still lives in Vienna "where the citizens now call themselves victims....hoping to keep their secret from the rest of the world".Hitler was an Austrian and so was the head of the Gestapo Kaltenbrunner and many many other Nazi's.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing story of several escapes by Leo
I've read several books about the holocaust,whether their authors were survivors of the death camps, survivors on the run, or even non-Jews who helped others survive by hiding them.This book was an incredible story. His escapes were brave and amazing. I'm always looking for more stories such as this, it is amazing to me, there are so many stories, I want to know them all.If you have any other recommendations, e-mail me at Stacy1212@aol.com.Great book, must read.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book was incredible
I just finished this book, I coulnt beleive the outcome of it.It was so shocking to hear all of this. I couldn't put it down. Im very interested in the Holocaust, even though im not a surviver, but it is so interesting on how people were back in WWII, it amazes me that people had to go through all of this..I would diffently reccommend this. Thanks to Leo and Michael, to share such a tragic story and a big and unhumian peice of your life, a peice of history..Best Wishes

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely unbelievable
Leap into Darkness was about a young boy fleeing Europe before, during , and after WWII.Leo Bretholz is an amazing and courages individual.I had the opportunity to speak to Leo when he visted my sociology college class "Holocuast and Global Rasism"He is a true miracle and his story tells it all.
-Jessica 22

4-0 out of 5 stars Leo's adventures in running away from the Nazis.
As the other reviewers have already stated, this is an action packed adventure of a young man fleeing the Nazis.Leo fled from his native Vienna, to Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France,and Switzerland.In this book, he describes the Austrians as welcome participants in the Holocaust and not as the victims.Austrians treat themselves as the first victims of Hitler's aggression rather than the willing helpers of Hitler.As he fled, other nations tried to avoid Hitler's refugees.No one welcomed the outcasts from the Hitler regime.
One comment about the nature of this book.Most of the victims did not know what was going to happen when they embarked on the train journey to the camps.Leo states it in the narrative.I don't think even he knew, other than the future was bleak.It lessens the story narrative as he pictures the death that awaits these people.This should have been told at the end.
This is a great book to read.It shows the suffering of the Jews and those who opposed Hitler. ... Read more


17. The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets 1798-1848
by Niall Ferguson
list price: $34.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670857688
Catlog: Book (1998-09-01)
Publisher: Viking Books
Sales Rank: 218989
Average Customer Review: 4.27 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The first historian with access to the long-lost Rothschild archive, bestselling author Niall Ferguson offers a myth-breaking in-depth portrait fo one of the most fascinating and powerful families in Europe. Hidden for nearly fifty yers in the KGB's special archive, the uncovered records cast new light on the banking family's rise to preeminence. With the help of Hebrew scholar Mordecai Zucker, The House of Rothschild also reflects the first major translation of important and revealing intra-family correspondence in the Judendeutch dialect.In a vast undertaking, Ferguson has synthesized material from over 20 different archives and 20,000 letters, as well as other historical sources, and produced an exceptional--and readable history. Ferguson follows the founders' five sons in their rise to power as pioneers of modern business communication, creators of the international bond market, and the financial force behind many political events of the time. A family saga as well, Ferguson reveals the true nature of the family's relations with one another and with most of the important politicians and monarchs of the time, as well as their profound connection to the Jewish community. A major book, The House of Rothschild is the definitive account of one of the most important firms--and one of the most exceptional families--in modern history. ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent and comprehensive analysis
Niall Ferguson has done a commendable job of describing the developement of a captivating family saga. What I found most appealing about the book is its comprehensive nature -- it weaves the family story in the context of the political and economic developments,with which it is closely intertwined. What is even more fascinating is the level of financial details about the bank than Ferguson provides. Perhaps it is his access to the recently open archive in Moscow that allows the author to deisclose finanacial history that it fascinating and detailed.

I would highly recommend this book to any serious student of history, as well as to people interested in banking and economics. Perhaps it may appear too detailed for the casual reader.

4-0 out of 5 stars A first-rate history, if a bit thin on the finance
Ferguson has written a rare work: a family chronicle which is both a compelling read, and is good history. The text is richly detailed, while the very complete footnotes provide the reader with a clear sense of the broad scholarship that has gone into the book. One caveat: while Ferguson points out in his introduction that the work is not a financial history, he unfortunately doesn't paint as rich a picture of the financial markets of the early 19th century as the book requires. While the house's trading history makes for a fascinating read, it takes place without any contextual comparison of how other market makers behaved and traded (other than an occasional comparison of profits and losses). Still, though, it's a minor criticism of a great book. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging and enlightening
The House of Rothschild 1798-1848 covers a pivotal time in history. The Napoleonic Wars, rise of capitalism, the rise of multinational businesses, development of the railroad and the French Revolution. The Rothschild's had a front row seat to all of this and were the focus of some of it. From humble beginnings in the Frankfurt Jewish Ghetto, the rise of this family is chronicled through three generations. Many myths about the Rothschilds are laid to rest by Ferguson's groundbreaking research, much of it original scholarship. One of the main threads running through the book is that finance had a profound role in the ability of the rulers of Europe to do what they wanted. By 1825 the Rothschild had a significant role in sovereign finance. Many things were wished for by the various despots that ruled Europe at that time, but if the Rothschilds did not perceive that those wishes would lead to stabilization and peace it typically was not supported thereby making it difficult to realize. They did not support the despots with out reserve, but they knew that peace protected their interests. That perspective makes this book unique.
The Rothschild family business was a partnership that was constructed as the 2nd generation left Frankfurt for London, Paris, Vienna, and Naples. That the partnership should survive was the 1st generation's greatest desire and was respected (most of the time) by his descendants. The exchanges between the 5 houses make for fascinating reading and are reference extensively in the book.
The book details how the Rothschilds pushed for Jewish emancipation and equality and were resisted at every turn. That did not prevent them from receiving commendations from the various governments that the worked with. It did not prevent them from gaining entry to the most prestigious universities for their children. It did not prevent Lionel from gaining entry into the British Parliament without having to swear a Christian Oath. The Rothschilds achieved a great deal for themselves and for Judaism.
Intrigue, betrayal, revolution, and vignettes of famous people make this a very entertaining book, not merely a historic rendering of dates and places. From the beginning of the Rothschild climb to prominence with the Elector of Hesse-Kassel to the French Revolution in 1848, this book will engage the reader.

5-0 out of 5 stars The House of Rothschild
Ferguson (Oxford) presents a fascinating picture of the first two generations of the Rothschild family (Mayer Amschel and his five sons Amschel, Solomon, Nathan, Carl, and James), who laid the foundation for the family's banking fortune in the early 19th century. Ferguson attacks the myths surrounding the family and focuses on the nature of the partnership and the secret of its success. Intricately weaving together strands of familial, financial, and political history into a highly readable but complex narrative, the author presents a vivid picture of this Jewish family, which emerged from the Frankfurt ghetto to dominate European finance, particularly the international bond market, and which, despite its rise to unparalleled wealth and influence, never deserted Judaism. This massive, lucid, and captivating study rests largely on previously unexamined manuscript sources in Paris, London, Frankfurt, and Moscow, many written in German with Hebrew characters. These sources are meticulously documented in 140 pages of footnotes/bibliography within the 600-page text. It will remain the definitive account of the early history of the family. Highly recommended for scholars and general readers alike.

2-0 out of 5 stars BORING
This book is about the rise of the House of Rothschild but it is not written for the casual reader of history. This is written for the scholar whose subject matter is economic history. As that is not my field of study, I found the book boring in the extreme (it took me two months to wade through it). However, for the student of Jewish history, it does have some interesting ideas as to the origins of some of the Nazi propaganda. ... Read more


18. Survivors: True Stories Of Children In The Holocaust
by Allan Zullo
list price: $4.99
our price: $4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0439669960
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 998057
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Book Description

These are the true-life accounts of nine Jewish boys and girls whose lives spiraled into danger and fear as the Holocaust overtook Europe. In a time of great horror, these children each found a way to make it through the nightmare of war. Some made daring escapes into the unknown, others disguised their true identities, and many witnessed unimaginable horrors.But what they all shared was the unshakable belief in-- and hope for-- survival. Their legacy of courage in the face of hatred will move you, captivate you, and, ultimately, inspire you.
... Read more

19. Who We Are : On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish American Writer
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805242392
Catlog: Book (2005-05-10)
Publisher: Schocken
Sales Rank: 91548
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20. Surviving Hitler : A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
by Andrea Warren
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060007672
Catlog: Book (2002-09-01)
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Sales Rank: 54345
Average Customer Review: 4.86 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Think of it as a game, Jack.
Play the game right and you might outlast the Nazis."

Caught up in Hitler's Final Solution to annihilate Europe's Jews, fifteen-year-old Jack Mandelbaum is torn from his family and thrown into the nightmarish world of the concentration camps. Here, simple existence is a constant struggle, and Jack must learn to live hour to hour, day to day. Despite intolerable conditions, he resolves not to hate his captors and vows to see his family again. But even with his strong will to survive, how long can Jack continue to play this life-and-death game?

Award-winning author Andrea Warren has crafted an unforgettable true story of a boy becoming a man in the shadow of the Third Reich.

... Read more

Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars A boy in the Nazi Death Camps
Surviving Hitler, by Andrea Warren, is a story about a boy named Jack Mandelbaum. He is a Jewish boy and lives during the time of WWII. He is separated from his family and lives in a concentration camp. He has to survive in them. He is very determined to survive in the camps because he wants to meet with his family after the war.
During his time in the camps he meets a man named Aaron who gives him vital information about the camps. He also tells him that if he cannot work, the Nazis will kill him. He tells him about the ovens. What I think is the most important rule that Aaron told Jack was that this was just a game that Hitler was playing. Jack was in that game. If Jack lost, he would die, but if Jack won, he would survive the Nazi death camps and live after the war was over.
I recommend this book because it had a lot of good description, great quotes, and a very interesting and unpredictable plot. I would rate this book a 4 1/2 out of 5 and not a 5 out of 5 because it didn't give many details about his life after the war or about the other characters lives after the war. This was an all around good book that I enjoyed very much.

5-0 out of 5 stars Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
Boy Survivor
Are you interested in World War II and the Nazi death camps and what it was like for the Jews? If you are, you should definitely read this book. It is a true story about a Jewish boy named Jack. Jack lived a normal life with his family in a Polish village called Gdynia. His family was well off and happy. He loved the beach and got into trouble. He was a normal boy. He didn't really practice Judaism. He didn't understand the war and he didn't care, until the Nazi occupation. That changed everything. Jack and his family are forced into a ghetto and later separated and sent to concentration camps. As Jack is moved from camp to camp, he meets new friends and he finds himself changing. All he wants is to survive. All the time he is wondering what happened to his family and when the war will be over. He is always worrying about sickness and what is happening to his family and where they are. Are they even alive? Sometimes he thinks he should just give up and die, but each time he manages to get through, right? You'll have to read and find out!
I loved this book. I have read a lot of books this year, a few were about World War II, and this was one of my favorite. This book really helped me understand what the concentration camps were like. I had always wondered what is was like and I tried to find a good book but none of them was as descriptive and real as this one. One of the reasons was that this story is true. The depth of this book really gave me a great idea about World War II. I got lost in it and never wanted to stop reading. I definitely recommend this book. I would only recommend it to people who can handle detail and gruesome facts. It has to be in detail, it's true! It may be detailed but it is still one of the best books I've ever read.
This book showed what kind of courage, hope, mental strength and faith it took to survive the camps. The most physically strong person could be the first to die, but the strong in heart were the last survivors.

5-0 out of 5 stars A boy at camp
Surviving Hitler was about a boy named Jack who was jewish. Jack lived with his mom,sister,brother, and dad. Jack's dad heard that the nazi's were coming for the jews. Jack's dad sent his family to live with his father in a small village. Jack's dad did not go because he did not have enough money. Before Jack and his family left Jacks sister went to stay with her aunt so she could help her aunt with the baby she just had. Jack and his family finally arrive at there grandfathers house. They stay there for a while then the Nazi's come and put all the jews in little houses with more than one family. Jacks father still has not came back to them. One night in the middle of the night Nazi's came and made the jews immediately leave. Jack and his family waited in line and when it was there turn jack showed the soldier that he had a nazi work stamp. Jack thought it would get his whole family through , but it only got him through. Jack was seperated from his family. Jack was moved to several different camps for his good labor. Then he met a really good friend and they were moved to be camp cooks. Jack would have died a couple of days later if he had not worked in the kitchen. You will have to read the book to see if Jack survives or if he will be reunited with his family.

5-0 out of 5 stars Holocaust Surviving
Surviving Hitler is a wonderful survival story depicting courage, and friendship in a great, breath stopping story about a boy in a Nazi death camp. Jack's faith, courage, and friendship with Moniek help him get through the hard time in his life and survive Hitler. This story is interesting to me because Jack is about my age and sometimes what happens to him can relate to life now. The story taught me about the Holocaust in a way that I could learn it better than usual. Jack can be an idol for people who are going through very hard times in their lives to show them that they can survive it. This book is so good that it is now one of my favorite books of all.

5-0 out of 5 stars True Holocaust Story
Surviving Hitler is one of the best Holocaust books I have read. I love to read about it and this book makes you feel as if you are acually there with him in the death camps. I like the saying,"This is all a game.You must win to live."It is both dramatic as well as a little bit scary.I hope that people will read this book and realize what life was like for the Jews in concentration camps.This is clearly the best non-fiction book I've read. ... Read more


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