Sunday, June 03, 2007

Night, by Elie Wiesel

This audio book was 4 hours and 17 minutes long, including a reading of Wiesel's speech to the Nobel Prize committee in 1986. It was free from

This book was originally published the year I was born, 1958. That was 13 years after Elie Wiesel's liberation from the German death camps at the age of 17.

When I was growing up, all adults still had a fresh remembrance of the monstrous regime that had terrorized the world, and the Holocaust was already a part of the vocabulary. I saw all the movies about Nazi atrocities, and took seriously my duty as a part of humanity to remember what was done to the Jews and other minorities. How I missed this book is a wonder.

This story sets itself apart from the rest of my personal witness of the media's rendition of the Holocaust. Most books and movies focus on the cruel inhumanity of how the Jews were treated. Wiesel's book spends the first half documenting the denial of the Jews as they saw it coming. Yes, there are a couple of voices in the wilderness, but they are usually scorned and despised for their prescience.

This simple account, unadorned by the gratuitous violence of most Holocaust movies, made it easy for me to believe that the average German citizen could have been in the same state of unbelief while this was happening. It is also a grim warning to all of us that neutrality only benefits the oppressor, as Wiesel states in his speech to the Nobel committee. We must take sides in the resistance to dictators. And we must do it early. At least, that's what I came away with. And this gets 4 stars.

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