The memoir of a young Jewish resistance fighter, written in a Polish prison during WW II shortly before the author's escape—and death. All Holocaust narratives are sad, but some are more profoundly moving than others—for example, the story of Draenger. Justyna (her resistance alias) was 25 years old when she penned this narrative in 1943, after turning herself in to the Polish police to be with her husband, who had been captured. She was repeatedly tortured by the Gestapo, but despite her suffering, and with the help of her fellow women inmates, she managed to write her story on scraps of toilet paper sewed together with threads ripped from the prisoners' clothing. In it she tells of her activities in the Jewish youth resistance: how young men and women in their teens and twenties fought valiantly with few weapons and little hope of victory against the most terrible killing machine in humanity's history; of their dreams and ponderings, their suffering and joy. Draenger's story is tragic, first, because she and the people she wrote about were young and courageous, and most of them died horribly at the hands of the Nazis. But the narrative is also sad because it does not always do justice to the remarkable effort devoted to creating it, nor to the amazing woman who wrote it. Draenger wanted the memoir to be literary, but with no chance to edit what she wrote under such horrible circumstances, the result is often disjointed. And because she was writing a ``heroic narrative,'' she turned all of her characters into stock figures instead of the true-to-life heroes they were. She and her husband rejoined the underground after escaping from prison and died while fighting the Nazis. Reading her final words, one is most affected by the thought of what this exceptional woman might have done had she lived in a different time and a better place. (10 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-55849-037-X

Page Count: 168

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1996

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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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