BASHERT

A GRANDAUGHTER’S HOLOCAUST QUEST

Decidedly minor work in the larger literature of the Holocaust, but a useful complement to such recent works as John...

Self-discovery meets history in this debut memoir.

Like many Jews of the post-Holocaust generation, the author grew up listening to stories of family members murdered or disappeared. These reminiscences by those lucky enough to get away mingled fact with error, data with folklore, and when Simon began to look into them more closely, she found that the official record was no better, riddled as it was with omissions, distortions, gaps, and outright lies. Seeking on-the-ground truth, she begins with an account of a tour-group trip to the ruins of death camps and shtetls, her fellow travelers similarly seeking evidence that places like Volchin and Visoke actually existed outside the realm of storytelling. Much of Simon’s subsequent narrative centers on her search through archives, interviews, and scholarly literature to discover what might have happened to those long-lost family members who disappeared during the Holocaust. Some, she learns, may have ended their days in places such as Treblinka and Auschwitz, but many Jews, especially in the Ukraine and Belarus, were shot and buried in anonymous mass graves, and postwar Soviet authorities were not eager to determine the victims’ identities. Simon’s tale begins hesitantly but gathers force as her sense of indignation grows with every obstacle present-day authorities put in her way. “I’m beginning to understand why some people still believe that the Holocaust never happened,” she confesses in exasperation. “If history books, tourist guides, and government-sponsored investigative reports show scant or no reference to an entire race of people, then it’s safe to deny their presence.” Marred only by too-frequent passages on the self-indulgent order of, “What began as a search for missing facts, for missing relatives, ultimately became a search for myself,” her narrative is in the main lucid and thoughtful.

Decidedly minor work in the larger literature of the Holocaust, but a useful complement to such recent works as John Garrard’s The Bones of Berdichev (1996) and Eva Hoffman’s Shtetl (1997).

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-57806-481-3

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

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

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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