A fast-paced account of the dramatic rescue of 50,000 Bulgarian Jews from probable annihilation during the Holocaust. Former Israeli Knesset member Bar Zohar vividly describes the Bulgarian effort to keep Bulgaria’s Jews beyond Hitler’s grasp. Despite deportation orders, not one Bulgarian Jew is known to have been delivered to the Nazis. Providing a historical backdrop to this largely unknown story, the author disputes allegations of anti-Semitism in Bulgaria. The Bulgarians, he asserts, were unusually tolerant of Jews, Greeks, and other minorities; pogroms weren—t a native tradition. Other interesting facts: Bulgarian Jews were for the most part a nonobservant lot, not set apart in public by distinct garb or by rites and dietary habits. Nor were they wealthy. They were modest workers—largely craftsmen and peddlers—who lived alongside Christians in the poorest sections of Bulgarian towns. Despite their firm Zionist leanings (90 percent immigrated to Israel after the war), they “felt so strongly for their homeland they were willing to die for it.” Unsurprisingly, then, the Bulgarian people remained mostly indifferent to the extreme right’s attempts to incite hatred against the Jews. Rather, Bulgarian society—especially the cultural and political elite—was determined to protect its Jewish minority. Standing particularly firm against anti-Semitism was the Bulgarian Church itself. Bar Zohar documents how, time and time again, the Church confronted the government and challenged anti-Semitic measures. But the Jews of Thrace and Macedonia were less fortunate: he describes the vicious treatment and deportation of these 11,343 forlorn people through Bulgarian territory to the death camps of Treblinka and Majdanek. Weaving elements of romance and espionage into a dramatic tale of redemption, Bar Zohar intrigues and informs us. (b&w photos) (First printing of 40,000; author tour; radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 1998

ISBN: 1-58062-060-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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