TALKING UNTIL NIGHTFALL

REMEMBERING JEWISH SALONICA, 1941-44

A unique Holocaust memoir.

Three generations of a Jewish family centered in Salonica reveal their perspectives on the World War II German occupation, which decimated the religious enclave.

The primary elements of this unusually constructed text, “the first account of the Shoah available in Greek,” appeared in book form in 1948 in Athens, with the title translated into English as And Yet Not All Died. The author was Isaac Matarasso (1892-1958), a doctor who survived the German death camps through a variety of maneuvers, some of which he initiated, others of which can only be described as serendipity or blessed coincidences. As did so many others, Matarasso experienced horrific physical and psychological violence. According to his daughter-in-law, Pauline Matarasso (b. 1929)—the translator of the present volume, which includes contributions from other members of the family as well as additional “more personal pieces” that Isaac wrote—he suffered in ways he almost certainly never fully revealed. Isaac divides his detailed, searing account into three chronological phases: the “partial toleration” of the Germans, aided by turncoat Greeks; the absolute oppression, marked by forced labor and deprivation; and the deportation to the concentration camps: “The Jews were herded like cattle into a concentration camp, where the full range of Nazi brutalities was brought to bear, ending with the deportation of about 46,000 Jews out of the city’s population of 50,000, crammed into cattle trucks.” Isaac's son Robert (1927-1982) experienced some of the nightmare as a teenager, and his memories are included here in the form of passages from an uncompleted memoir he worked on decades after the invasion. Robert covers many of the same events as his father, but unlike Isaac, he wrote in a more intimate first-person voice. Some readers may be distracted by the fragmented nature of the narrative, but the resurrection and enhancement of the 1948 manuscript is a triumph.

A unique Holocaust memoir.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4729-7588-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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