BURNED CHILD SEEKS THE FIRE

A MEMOIR

A woman who survived Auschwitz as an adolescent thrusts her harrowing story on a public soothed by Anne Frank's gentle and forgiving paradigm. Edvardson is in many ways the anti-Frank. The normal mother- daughter trials of adolescence described in the expurgated parts of Frank's diary are mild compared with the gulf that separated Edvardson from her mother: Confronted by the Gestapo, the 14-year-old was forced to sign away her own freedom to protect the older woman (both were half-Jewish), who sat by and said nothing. And as Edvardson's good, Catholic family lived out the prewar and war years in their home in Berlin, Edvardson was slowly and painfully torn from her childhood and forced to endure the fate of the German Jews, although she was more a stranger to her fellow victims than she was to her persecutors. (In the Swedish hospital where she was sent after the war, the Jewish refugees called her a ``German swine'' because of her German Catholic upbringing.) At age ten, Edvardson was expelled from her grade school and forced to attend a Jewish day school. She then had to wear the yellow Jewish star and was sent away from her home to live with a series of Jewish half-strangers. After a final stint in a Berlin Jewish hospital, Edvardson was deported, first to Theresiendstadt and finally to Auschwitz. She survived the war, and her anger grew through years of a seemingly functional, even successful, life in Sweden. She finally found some measure of peace when she converted to Judaism and moved to Israel, where she and her family live today. Even readers who think they have become inured to the pain of Holocaust memoirs will be sucked in and beaten down by the brutal honesty of Edvardson's words.

Pub Date: July 14, 1997

ISBN: 0-8070-7094-7

Page Count: 106

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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