The life of a courageous, righteous man well told.

THE ENVOY

THE EPIC RESCUE OF THE LAST JEWS OF EUROPE IN THE DESPERATE CLOSING MONTHS OF WORLD WAR II

Popular historian Kershaw (Escape from the Deep: A True Story of Courage and Survival During World War II, 2009, etc.) looks at the work of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and his still mysterious disappearance.

Wallenberg, famously, was the bane of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi general who commanded operations against the Jews of Hungary, always with the eager assistance of members of that country’s fascist Arrow Cross Party. At a time when Jews were being deported to the death camps from the region at a rate of 12,000 a day, Wallenberg managed to save as many as 30,000 (the estimates vary widely) by, among other tactics, renting buildings, giving Jews sanctuary there and declaring them Swedish territory and therefore protected by diplomatic immunity. It’s easy to see why Wallenberg’s activities gave the Nazis and Arrow Cross fits, but Kershaw shows capably and beyond much doubt that Wallenberg died at the hands of the conquering Soviets. Why he was targeted has never been made clear, and the author isn’t of much help on that question, beyond noting that the orders may well have come from Joseph Stalin. Of particular interest in Kershaw’s measured account is the aftermath: Wallenberg disappeared pretty much in plain view, and there wasn’t much doubt that the Soviets took him. Even so, fellow Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjold, who became secretary general of the United Nations, declined to press the investigation into the Gulag, saying, “I do not want to begin World War Three because of one missing person.” Kershaw capably builds plausible scenarios, drawing on recently released archives, wondering rightly as he does why Wallenberg’s story is less well known than that of Oskar Schindler, who “saved far fewer people and in any case profited from their forced labor.”

The life of a courageous, righteous man well told.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-306-81557-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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