An intelligent and restoratively compassionate historical excavation.

THE RAVINE

A FAMILY, A PHOTOGRAPH, A HOLOCAUST MASSACRE REVEALED

The author of Hitler’s Furies returns with an account of how a disturbing Holocaust photograph turned into a humanitarian research project.

In 2009, Lower, the director of the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College, was on a mission to find documentation that would bring Bernhard Frank, “the highest-ranking SS officer known to be alive in Germany at that time,” to justice. During her research, she came across a photo showing a group of men executing a woman and a boy “at the edge of a ravine.” That discovery became the focal point for a seven-year investigative odyssey dedicated to tracking down and identifying the shooters as well as the photographer and, more importantly, the victims. Lower traveled to the scene of the crime, a forest on the outskirts of a Ukrainian town called Miropol. Research in Germany led her to ascertain that the victims “were the remnant of a [Jewish] community being destroyed after the first wave of [Nazi] killings in the summer of 1941.” Based on “hundreds of testimonies of Germans, Slovakians, and Ukrainians [who] passed through or resided in Miropol, and of the one Jewish survivor,” writes the author, “I was able to reconstruct events just before, during, and after the photograph was taken.” She later discovered that the photographer was a member of the Slovakian resistance and that the perpetrators were Ukrainian policemen who collaborated with the Nazis and met harsh fates. The author’s expansive research in Soviet archives and Jewish genealogical databases led her to identify and interview possible family members who had managed to escape the Holocaust. The profundity of Lower’s commitment to justice is both admirable and evident. Meticulously researched and thoughtfully written, her book is a testimonial to the power of countering ignorance with education and the importance of restoring the dignity of personhood to those erased by genocide.

An intelligent and restoratively compassionate historical excavation.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-544-82869-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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

Did you like this book?

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more