26 July 2009


Elie Wiesel's Night is one of the most famous holocaust books (second only to Anne Frank's diary.) In his book, Wiesel describes his experiences as a teen at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; Wiesel emerged from these death camps as the sole survivor of his Romanian-Jewish family.

I have mixed feelings about Holocaust literature. On one hand, as a history major who also enjoys psychology, I find the historical and psychological aspects of the Holocaust interesting. On the other hand, as a human being (and someone who is half-Jewish), I find the details of this slaughter absolutely appalling.

Night is one of the most powerful books I've ever read. As a history buff who has long been fascinated with World War II, I didn't find many of the details surprising (although certain instances that Wiesel wrote about did shock me), I did find Wiesel's book to be extremely poignant and accessible. What really made Night a great book to me was Wiesel's conversational and elegantly simple style. Wiesel's book reads almost as if Wiesel is telling you his story face-to-face. He has an almost instinctive knack for explaining what happened so that you understand what occured and sympathize with Wiesel's rage and sorrow, but without drowning you in horrifying details. Wiesel's ironic interjections add a much needed jolt of humanity and reason into the midst of the insanity that he describes.

This is one of the most disturbing and moving memoirs that I've ever read. If you're unfamiliar with the Holocaust, Wiesel's story is a very human introduction to one of the worst atrocities in human history. If you are a history buff, you'll find Night a far more intense and readable description of life in the death camps than any historian is capable of writing. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

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