Moshe Wisniak is a poor Jewish boy from Warsaw, who can’t run away from the Polish boys who attack him because his legs are too weak, so he learns to use his fists and his head as well as other weapons to defend himself and his brothers. Survival of the fittest is displayed here in Maurice’s story based on a real life man, Maurice Garbarz. The family moves to Paris in 1929. Moshe now Maurice, to be more French, takes up boxing at a Jewish sports club. He becomes an amateur flyweight. Maurice marries and has a child, but in 1942 the French police round up foreign Jews and the Germans deport them to the death camp at Auschwitz. This novel is told in the first person, with lots of dialogue and jokes. Not for the faint of heart, the author describes the daily cruelty of the SS. The present tense narrative vividly describes atrocities as well as examples of courage, friendship and luck. An example of this is when Maurice, who is small of stature, is set to entertain the camp guards by fighting a dying man. When it comes to ending the fight, Maurice refuses to deliver the killing blow. For those who say the Jews went to slaughter like sheep, this book highlights the story of a Jewish hero fought like a man and won. Originally written in French and titled Le Ring de la Mort, this book is often assigned reading in French high schools. For ages 14 and up.
Barbara Silverman had an M.L.S. from Texas Woman’s University. She worked as a children’s librarian at the Corpus Christi Public Libraries and at the Corpus Christi ISD before retiring. She worked as a volunteer at the Astor Judaic Library of the Lawrence Family JCC in La Jolla, CA. Sadly, Barbara passed away is 2012.