THE BOY by Dan Porat
Kirkus Star


A Holocaust Story
Email this review


A moving scholarly detective story that hinges on an iconic photograph from the Holocaust.

Porat (Holocaust Studies/Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) writes that “it is the responsibility of a historian to narrate photographs with analytic rigor, even while retaining, and indeed deepening, their immediacy and meaning.” He succeeds admirably in his critical evaluation of the photograph, taken during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, which depicts an eight-year-old boy, hands raised, his face a study in fear and terror. To his right, a young woman, hands also raised and apparently at the head of a column of prisoners, looks at him with concern, while behind him, a Nazi soldier keeps a rifle at the ready. In an exemplary campaign of research, the author doggedly pursues their stories, as well as those of the man behind the camera and the official who ordered that these images be made. The last was a Nazi SS officer named Josef Stroop, once an aimless World War I veteran, then a Nazi true believer, who kept a careful, ornately bound chronicle of his actions on the Eastern Front. Even Nazi leader Alfred Jodl condemned the excess: “The dirty arrogant SS swine! Imagine writing a 75-page boastful report on a little murder expedition, when a major campaign fought by soldiers against a well-armed enemy takes only a few pages!” The photographer also found his calling in the SS, as did the guard with the rifle, a sad sack who was initially appalled at the work of the death squads but soon shed his scruples. Each of the Nazis was executed in the years following the armistice, and only a few of the Jewish figures survived the war, which they carried with them forever.

A remarkable work and an essential document in the vast library devoted to the Shoah.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8090-3071-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2010


NonfictionLETTERS TO MY TORTURER by Houshang Asadi
by Houshang Asadi
NonfictionCAESARS' WIVES by Annelise Freisenbruch
by Annelise Freisenbruch
NonfictionANARCHY EVOLUTION by Greg Graffin
by Greg Graffin
NonfictionGOLD DIGGERS by Charlotte Gray
by Charlotte Gray


NonfictionNEVER REMEMBER by Masha Gessen
by Masha Gessen
NonfictionTHE INVENTOR AND THE TYCOON by Edward Ball
by Edward Ball
NonfictionSOMETHING BEAUTIFUL HAPPENED by Yvette Manessis Corporon
by Yvette Manessis Corporon
NonfictionNIGHT by Elie Wiesel
by Elie Wiesel