A handful of classmates relegated to Amsterdam’s Jewish Lyceum during World War II offer poignant, haunting memories of “Annelies.”

During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, all Jewish children were forced to attend special schools—in the case of the author and Anne Frank, their families chose the Jewish Lyceum. Of the nearly 500 boys and girls at the school, only half survived the war; while in the Netherlands overall, the author cites 80 percent of the Jewish population were killed, twice the percentage of Jews in Belgium and France, thus undermining the myth about Dutch benevolence toward the Jews. The author, then 13, was known as Maurice and was cited by Frank in her diary as “one of [her] many admirers, but he’s a rather annoying kid.” He remembers how his schoolmates began to stop showing up for class—for example, by the spring of 1942, labor roundups for children as young as 16 were instituted and many families had gone into hiding, such as the Franks and the author’s own dispersed family. However, many others operated under a "ghastly delusion" that in Nazi labor camps they would at least avoid hunger and illness. (Coster was taken to a farm in Vaassen and passed off as a visiting nephew.) In a joint book and film project, Coster managed to track down several surviving classmates for reminiscing, revealing stories as freshly searing as when they first occurred. Several of the survivors who had also ended up in Bergen-Belsen, like Anne, actually spoke to her there, and were impressed by her conviction to survive the war. All speak of Anne’s vivacity and spirit, although they reveal some resentment of her singular fame. Details reveal the enormous pressure on the children in hiding to be quiet and not make trouble, and the absolute lack of professional help after the war in easing the emotional trauma. The moving lore around the life of Anne Frank remains inexhaustible and eternal.


Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-230-11444-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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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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