When Elie Wiesel was 15 years old — a sheltered, studious adolescent, his life changed radically. This was Hungary; its head of state was an Axis partner who had refused to turn over his Jews to Hitler, although Hungary had plenty of its own Nazis. Still, when the family was offered hiding by their faithful housekeeper, they politely refused her help; his father thinking that the trouble would pass and the war would soon be over. Not soon enough, for the Hungarians, although the last to die, were shipped to the slave labor and killing camps as fast as Eichmann could manage it. Several of Wiesel’s family members were killed immediately. Wiesel spent 11 months at Auschwitz, where he experienced torture, abuse, violence and where his father died. It took 10 years, however, for Wiesel to write about his experiences in the famous memoir, Night. Since then, Wiesel has found his métier as a spokesperson against injustice, serving as a powerful voice for victims of racism, hatred and repression throughout the world. He has been chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust and a winner of the Nobel Prize. What is exceptional about this book is that not only does it cover all of Wiesel’s accomplishments but also contains a humanized portrait of the man, with a format that is attractive to young readers. The print is slightly larger; there is ample white space between lines, lots of photographs (both black and white and colored) with highlighted information set off by a different colored paper. There is also a prodigious amount of reference material listed: appendix, chronology, notes, bibliography, further reading and index. For ages 11 – 15.
Marcia W. Posner, Ph.D., of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, is the library and program director. An author and playwright herself, she loves reviewing for JBW and reading all the other reviews and articles in this marvelous periodical.