An exhaustive, dogged work of genealogical research.




A deeply intimate, rigorously detailed study of a lost Jewish world revealed within three minutes of a home movie shot in a small Polish town in 1938.

In 2008, Kurtz (Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music, 2007) was sidetracked from writing a novel after the discovery of a short 16mm film made by his grandparents Liza and David Kurtz of Flatbush, Brooklyn, on their vacation to Europe with another couple in 1938. Between their visits to Belgium and Switzerland, there is a three-minute interlude when the American tourists were ambling about a small Polish town attracting all kinds of delighted attention from the native onlookers. The Kurtz family lore was that the grandparents (both now deceased) were visiting Liza’s hometown of Berezne, Poland. However, as the author began to research the details of architecture and street life evident in the film—and thanks to help from Holocaust archivists in Washington—he learned that the town being filmed was not Berezne but David’s hometown of Nasielsk, residence to approximately 3,000 Jews in 1938—of whom only 80 survived the war. Gradually, the author tracked down several native Nasielskers who had recorded their stories. After incredible detective work, he also discovered the identity of the 13-year-old boy mugging most visibly for the camera in the Kurtz film: a certain Maurice Chandler of Boca Raton, Florida, who saw most of his family perish when the Nazis invaded in September 1939. He survived the horrific ordeal of the Warsaw Ghetto and was still alive to tell the tale into his 80s. The degree of detail in this work is staggering: The closer Kurtz peered, the more he learned of a rich, vibrant world on the brink of extinction.

An exhaustive, dogged work of genealogical research.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0374276775

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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