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THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF GIDON LEV

RASCAL. HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR. OPTIMIST.

A vitally important Holocaust story eruditely captured.

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In this elegantly conceived memoir, a Czechoslovakia-born Holocaust survivor works with an LA editor to write his life story, and a tender friendship ensues.

Gidon Lev was born in Karlsbad, Czechoslovakia, in 1935. When he was 6, he and his mother were ordered by the Nazis to board a train to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he remained until the age of 10. Lev lost 26 members of his family in the Holocaust. In 1959, he immigrated to Israel and served in the Six-Day War. His marriage to his first wife “fell apart incrementally but dramatically”; Lev found a note on her door saying she had gone to America, taking their children with her. A two-time cancer survivor himself, he lost his second wife to lung cancer months before Gray moved to Israel in 2012. Lev sought out Gray as an editor, but while collaborating on his book project, they spent “almost every day together” and realized they made “great life partners.” The memoir later recalls their visit to the West Bank and Lev’s horror that the “fenced-in” Arab villages remind him of Theresienstadt. Gray’s narrative voice—which fills in historical detail and offers personal commentary on moments such as when she returned to Theresienstadt with Lev—is delicately balanced with transcriptions of interviews with Lev. Lev’s vivid recollections of the concentration camp are haunting: “We didn’t really know that there were gas chambers. But there were rumors of things like that.” Lev casually throws in tantalizing nuggets of information about his family history (“The truth is, my grandfather owned a Stradivarius viola”), and Gray’s descriptions augment scenes, like when she recalls entering a torture room at Theresienstadt: “Starlings were swooping in and out of nests….Diving up, under the eaves on the outside of the buildings, they pulled bits of string and straw in after them.” Some readers may question the juxtaposition of Gray’s and Lev’s very different voices, but they blend together well, informing each other, and Gray ensures that Lev remains the central focus. Illustrated with Lev’s family photographs, this is a remarkable tale of survival and unexpected kinship.

A vitally important Holocaust story eruditely captured.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73524-970-4

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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

THE ELEPHANTS OF THULA THULA

A heartwarming and inspiring story for animal lovers.

The third volume in the Elephant Whisperer series.

In this follow-up to An Elephant in My Kitchen, Malby-Anthony continues her loving portrait of the Thula Thula wildlife reserve, which she co-founded in 1998 with her late husband, South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony, who published the first book in the series, The Elephant Whisperer, in 2009. Following his death in 2012, Malby-Anthony sought to honor his legacy by continuing his vision “to create a massive conservancy in Zululand, incorporating our land and other small farms and community land into one great big game park.” At the same time, the elephants gave her “a sense of purpose and direction.” In the Zulu language, thula means quiet, and though the author consistently seeks to provide that calm to her charges, peace and tranquility are not always easy to come by at Thula Thula. In this installment, Malby-Anthony discusses many of the challenges faced by her and her staff, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. These included an aggressive, 2-ton rhino named Thabo; the profound loss felt by all upon the death of their elephant matriarch, Frankie; difficulty obtaining permits and the related risk of having to relocate or cull some of their animals; the fear of looting and fire due to civil unrest in the region; and the ongoing and potentially deadly struggles with poachers. Throughout, the author also shares many warm, lighthearted moments, demonstrating the deep bond felt among the humans and animals at the reserve and the powerful effects of the kindness of strangers. “We are all working in unity for the greater good, for the betterment of Thula Thula and all our wildlife….We are humbled by the generosity and love, both from our guests and friends, and from strangers all around the world,” writes the author. “People’s open-hearted support kept us alive in the darkest times.”

A heartwarming and inspiring story for animal lovers.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9781250284259

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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