Next book

A STONE FOR BENJAMIN

A detailed examination of a Holocaust victim’s life and a considerate, thought-provoking look into why Holocaust narratives...

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Kroll comes from a close-knit Jewish family in postwar London, and in her debut memoir, she traces her ancestors’ migration from Eastern to Western Europe before World War II.

In searching for her family’s lost history, Kroll becomes particularly interested in her great-uncle Benjamin, whose striking portrait captivates her. He’s her beloved grandmother’s brother, though her family is unaware of his fate. After years of searching, she discovers that he died at Auschwitz in 1943, but the fact of his death doesn’t provide closure; on the contrary, it sparks her curiosity. She becomes determined to uncover as much as she can about Benjamin and his family. Her quest takes her to Paris, where Benjamin was living when he was captured by the Nazis; Poland, where she tours Auschwitz; and Israel, where she’s moved to tears at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial. Kroll’s prose is eloquent and evocative, and her writing is admirably self-aware. At times, she acknowledges that her family might think she’s obsessed with a ghost, and she wonders if she is, in fact, too rooted in the past. But the goal of her writing is both clear and incredibly important. Benjamin’s life story—his normal prewar life, his family’s separation and his time in a concentration camp—is, like many real-life narratives, a paradox: remarkable and riveting without being terribly original. Yet the point of Kroll’s work isn’t to put forth an untold or unusual story; she tells Benjamin’s tale “to elevate him from a mere number—the number tattooed on his arm in Auschwitz.” In doing so, she realizes that she’s helping, decades later, to “negate the Nazi doctrine of dehumanizing their victims.”

A detailed examination of a Holocaust victim’s life and a considerate, thought-provoking look into why Holocaust narratives are important.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1771800075

Page Count: 98

Publisher: Iguana Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

Next book

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

Next book

INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Close Quickview