The story of the heroic stand of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto against the might of German arms and the depravity of German terrorism has been told unforgettably by John Hersey in The Wall (1950). What is etched forever on memory from that book is the extraordinary depth of psychological perception, as people emerge, larger than life- but with black, white and grey — good and evil- heroism and cowardice — self abnegation and self seeking all giving a note of authenticity that marks it as history rather than story... Uris has chosen, in making central to his story, the same unbelievable proof of man's capacity for suffering and ability to endure and fight and live, to tell it in a broader frame of reference, and to build, on factual details, a tremendous saga of adventure and heroism. Some of his characters, even within the ghetto, fail to meet the challenge; others temporize, excuse their cowardice on grounds of thinking of their families, but Uris never wholly penetrates the conflicts of forces within the people themselves. He simply states the case- develops the facts to prove it. But he has used all of his great gift of story telling to carry the great sweep from August-prior to German invasion of Poland- through the final escape of a mere handful of the freedom fighters from the holocaust that ended the month long defense of the Ghetto. He has tapped primary sources of notes kept at the time and held in the Ghetto Fighters House International Museum; he has interviewed individual survivors of the Ghetto Fighters' Kibbutz in Israel and the Survivors' Association; he has had access to the archives in Jerusalem and elsewhere. And- as he did in Exodus — he has brought history alive in what is indubitably fictionized form, but with the breath of life in the telling.

Pub Date: June 16, 1961

ISBN: 0553241605

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1961

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These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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A deeply satisfying novel, both sensuously vivid and remarkably poignant.


Norwegian novelist Jacobsen folds a quietly powerful coming-of-age story into a rendition of daily life on one of Norway’s rural islands a hundred years ago in a novel that was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.

Ingrid Barrøy, her father, Hans, mother, Maria, grandfather Martin, and slightly addled aunt Barbro are the owners and sole inhabitants of Barrøy Island, one of numerous small family-owned islands in an area of Norway barely touched by the outside world. The novel follows Ingrid from age 3 through a carefree early childhood of endless small chores, simple pleasures, and unquestioned familial love into her more ambivalent adolescence attending school off the island and becoming aware of the outside world, then finally into young womanhood when she must make difficult choices. Readers will share Ingrid’s adoration of her father, whose sense of responsibility conflicts with his romantic nature. He adores Maria, despite what he calls her “la-di-da” ways, and is devoted to Ingrid. Twice he finds work on the mainland for his sister, Barbro, but, afraid she’ll be unhappy, he brings her home both times. Rooted to the land where he farms and tied to the sea where he fishes, Hans struggles to maintain his family’s hardscrabble existence on an island where every repair is a struggle against the elements. But his efforts are Sisyphean. Life as a Barrøy on Barrøy remains precarious. Changes do occur in men’s and women’s roles, reflected in part by who gets a literal chair to sit on at meals, while world crises—a war, Sweden’s financial troubles—have unexpected impact. Yet the drama here occurs in small increments, season by season, following nature’s rhythm through deaths and births, moments of joy and deep sorrow. The translator’s decision to use roughly translated phrases in conversation—i.e., “Tha’s goen’ nohvar” for "You’re going nowhere")—slows the reading down at first but ends up drawing readers more deeply into the world of Barrøy and its prickly, intensely alive inhabitants.

A deeply satisfying novel, both sensuously vivid and remarkably poignant.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77196-319-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Biblioasis

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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