A welcome addition to the World War II memoir shelf.



A gripping memoir from an Eastern European Jew who fought in the French Resistance.

Born in 1921, Rosenberg, who has received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star from the U.S. Army for his service in World War II, thrived within a loving Polish family into his teenage years. His residence in Danzig meant immersion in both Polish and German culture, and his parents believed that Danzig’s well-integrated Jewish population would escape the rise of Hitler and his Nazi supporters. When that optimism began to crumble, the 16-year-old Rosenberg departed Danzig to study in Paris. (Nobody knew then that most of his relatives would be slaughtered in the Holocaust. Rosenberg’s parents and sister survived, but the author would be separated from them until 1952.) The German invasion of France interrupted Rosenberg’s studies. On his own, with dwindling cash, he decided against trying to flee the Nazi juggernaut. Instead, he found a path to joining the underground resistance against the Nazis, centered in occupied France and comprised of fighters from a variety of backgrounds, including expatriate Americans. Rosenberg offered special value as a Resistance guerrilla for multiple reasons: Given his blond hair and other physical features, he did not “look Jewish.” His baby face meant that he could easily pass as a schoolboy. He spoke Polish, German, Yiddish, and English. He could subsist on meager resources during wartime hardships. He welcomed all assignments offered by Resistance commanders, and he was fearless. The narrative unfolds chronologically, in semi-diary format, and while readers will know, of course, that Rosenberg avoided death, the narrative tension is continuous, as the author recalls imprisonments, escapes from confinement, and successful missions against the Nazis. The author’s writing style is crystal-clear and understated, as he wisely allows the drama to unfold from the events themselves. As the war wound down, Rosenberg was unsure about his future. Eventually, he settled in the U.S. and has taught language and literature for 70 years.

A welcome addition to the World War II memoir shelf.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-274219-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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