A solid addition to Holocaust literature.

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THE HAPPIEST MAN ON EARTH

THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE OF AN AUSCHWITZ SURVIVOR

Uplifting memoir from a Holocaust survivor.

After Hitler took power in 1933, he expelled all Jewish students from schools, include the teenage Jaku (b. 1920), member of a prosperous Leipzig family. Using his influence in the community, the author’s father obtained false papers for his son and enrolled him in an elite engineering school far across the country. After five years of living alone as a gentile under an assumed name, he graduated at the top of his class. In November 1938, hoping to surprise his parents on their 20th wedding anniversary, he returned home only to find the house empty. His parents were in hiding because it was the infamous Kristallnacht, when Jews endured massive atrocities across Germany. That evening, thugs beat him brutally before sending him to the new Buchenwald concentration camp, where he remained for six months under appalling conditions. Upon his discharge, his family fled to Belgium. After the Nazi invasion in May 1940, he fled again, walking to the south of France, where he was arrested. After spending seven months in a French concentration camp, he was loaded onto a train for Auschwitz but escaped and made his way back to Belgium to join his family in hiding. All were arrested in 1943 and sent to Auschwitz, where his parents were killed and he became a slave laborer. Readers will be horrified by Jaku’s painful description of the unspeakable conditions and sadistic treatment he received. He survived only through determination, cooperation with a friend, luck, and his engineering skills, which gave him some privileges. After the war, he returned to Belgium and married, but he found the country unwelcoming and moved to Australia, where he still lives with his wife and large family. Some readers may find Jaku’s account of his long, prosperous life after Auschwitz anticlimactic, but no one will deny that he deserves it.

A solid addition to Holocaust literature.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-309768-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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

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For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

THE DEFENSE LAWYER

THE BARRY SLOTNICK STORY

The Patterson publishing machine clanks its way into the nonfiction aisles in this lumbering courtroom drama.

Barry Slotnick made a considerable fortune and reputation as a defense attorney who had a long list of controversial clients, including mob boss John Gotti and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. An “urbane lawyer known for his twenty-five-hundred-dollar Fioravanti suits, he was not unacquainted with violence,” write Patterson and Wallace. One of his early cases, indeed, involved a group of Jewish Defense League members who allegedly blew up a Broadway producer’s office, killing a woman who worked there. Slotnick’s defense was a standard confuse-the-jury ploy, but it worked. He put similar tactics to work in his defense of Bernhard Goetz, the “subway shooter” whose trial made international news. The authors open after that trial had concluded in yet another Slotnick win, and with a sensational incident: He was attacked by a masked man who beat him with a baseball bat. The evidence is sketchy, but it seems to place the attack in the hands of organized crime—perhaps even Gotti himself. No matter: Slotnick, “who saw himself as the foe of the all-powerful government” and “liberty’s last champion,” was soon back to representing clients including Radovan Karadžić, the murderous Bosnian Serb who was eventually imprisoned for having committed genocide; Dewi Sukarno, the widow of Indonesia’s similarly bloodstained president, “arrested for slashing the face of a fellow socialite with a broken champagne glass at a party in Aspen”; and Melania Trump, who had chosen Slotnick “to handle her prenup.” In the hands of a John Grisham, the story might have come to life, but while Patterson does a serviceable if cliché-ridden job of recounting Slotnick’s career, he fails to give readers much reason to admire the man.

For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49437-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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