A well-organized resurrection of yet another lost memory of the Holocaust era.




A methodical chronicle of a once-thriving farming town in western Ukraine that was obliterated by the Nazis and resurrected by witnesses’ testimonies.

Bendavid-Val’s father grew up in Trochenbrod and emigrated as a young man, skirting the Holocaust, but the author craved to know more about the small town’s history. In 1997, he visited the area and spoke extensively to early survivors. While viewing the mass grave site, he encountered an elder who “had been waiting over fifty years for someone to ask him about it.” Bendavid-Val embarks on a journey through the history of the town, the setting for Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Everything Is Illuminated (2002). Trochenbrod was essentially a vibrant Jewish town, with a turn-of-the-century population of 1,600. Farming in the marshland was difficult, and the Czarist army demanded conscription. Many youths emigrated elsewhere, especially to America, although there was also a Zionist movement, and even a Catholic church built in the late ’20s, thanks to Polish Prince Radziwill. The town endured domination by the Polish, Soviets and Nazis, respectively, though since the last great war the villagers believed, naively, that the Germans presented a more tractable authority than the Russians. By June 1941, the Nazis had put in place a system of occupation, terror and murder. The anti-Jewish Ukrainian Nationalists working with the Germans assured the Jews’ destruction, and during a few days in August 1942, most of the 4,500 Jewish inhabitants were shot and tossed in pits. The author ends this heartfelt account with three testimonies by people who somehow escaped that fate (only 60 survived).

A well-organized resurrection of yet another lost memory of the Holocaust era.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-60598-113-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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...


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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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