An important new voice joins the chorus of survivors.

A LUCKY CHILD

A MEMOIR OF SURVIVING AUSCHWITZ AS A YOUNG BOY

A powerful Holocaust memoir from an International Court Judge in The Hague.

First published in Germany in 2007, the book revisits Buergenthal’s youth in the late 1930s when he and his parents were forced by the Nazis to leave their home in Lubochna, Czechoslovakia, where they owned a hotel. After a short period in the Polish ghetto in Kielce, they were transported to Auschwitz in August 1944. The author was five when he was first uprooted in 1939, and he attributes the family’s early survival to his parents’ cunning and sheer luck in the face of the “Nazi killing machine.” Though his mother was stripped of her German citizenship because of her Jewish heritage, her ability to speak fluent German allowed her to pass through borders relatively obstacle-free. His father’s knowledge of Polish, work in the ghetto Werkstatt (a workshop or small factory) and fair hair were also important factors in their avoidance of the SS. During the journey to Auschwitz, Buergenthal lost sight of his mother. At the camp, the boy witnessed horrendous violence, sickness and death, and survived by running errands for the Kapo who supervised the showers. Separated from his father—whom he never saw again—taken to the hospital camp and marked, he believed, for death, Buergenthal was befriended by a young Polish doctor who saved him. He endured the Auschwitz Death Transport to Sachsenhausen, where the Russians eventually liberated the survivors. Only 11 years old, he briefly joined a Polish scout company before being delivered to an orphanage in Otwock, Poland. A year and a half later his mother finally located him. The author’s story is astonishing and moving, and his capacity for forgiveness is remarkably heartening.

An important new voice joins the chorus of survivors.

Pub Date: April 20, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-04340-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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