A remarkable tale, dramatically affecting and historically significant.



Two sisters recount their terrifying experience in Auschwitz and their extraordinary survival.

Ruth and Manci Grunberger were both born in the 1920s in Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia, a small city at the base of the Carpathian Mountains. They lived a quiet, happy life free from any visible antisemitism and in a community that was largely isolated from the gathering storms that threatened Europe. That life changed once their land was annexed by Hungary in 1938. As Jews, they were forced to wear yellow stars, their father’s store was confiscated, and they were ejected from their home and forced to live in the Jewish ghetto. When the Germans arrived, they were sent on cattle cars to Auschwitz; Manci ruefully remembers it as “my life’s black day.” The sisters’ experiences were gruesome. Ruth puts it poignantly: “All the horrors that had been told were true. These innocent people, just off the trains, were being gassed to death and their lifeless bodies taken to the ovens and burned—the flames, the thick smoke, the heavy dust particles and the putrid odors were from bodies. Somehow, I managed to get back to the barracks. I was in shock and was screaming, ‘I know! I know everything!’ ” Seymour, the son-in-law of Manci, intelligently facilities the telling of the sad but ultimately inspiring tale. The entire Grunberger family was sent to Auschwitz, and Ruth and Manci were the only survivors, but their book is not a lamentation—they both managed to make their way to the United States following the war and start afresh. Of course, this is ground well covered in scholarly and literary terms, though the perspectives of women, particularly those subjected to the “death marches” in 1945, aren’t widely represented. This is a profoundly moving story courageously told, one that reveals the heights and depths of human possibility.

A remarkable tale, dramatically affecting and historically significant.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-9-49323-189-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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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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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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