Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Night

Author: Elie Wiesel
Genre: Biography
Type: e-audiobook
NarratorJeffrey Rosenblatt
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Audio Bookshelf
First Published: February 1, 2000
First Line: "They called him Moshe the Beadle, as though he had never had a surname in his life."

Book Description from GoodReadsNight is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, at the height of the Holocaust and toward the end of the Second World War. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father–child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful teenage caregiver.

Penetrating and powerful, as personal as The Diary Of Anne Frank,Night awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.
 


My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My Review: After his death on July 2, 2016 at the age of 87 I finally decided it was time to read/listen to Night.  Wiesel was an inspirational man and his life work was so much more than the books he wrote and also included teaching and political activism.  He was an inspiring speaker, man, leader, father, Nobel laureate, teacher ....

I had been putting off reading Night for years because, whenever I'd think of picking it up, I didn't feel like I was in the right frame of mind to read an autobiography of a Holocaust survivor.  There was something about the fact that this book was based on what he saw and experienced first hand that made it automatically feel like it would be a gut wrenching, emotional read.

It's hard to rate a book based on someone's life experiences.  I, in no way, mean to demean his experiences but I think I held this book in such high esteem that the reality was not as well written nor as emotional as I was expecting.  It still had its haunting and sad moments as he describes some of the horrifying things he witnessed and experienced in concentration camps.  But I think my expectation going into this book, as well as the large number of other Holocaust books that I've read, influenced my enjoyment of Night.

My slightly lower rating is not meant to discount, nor disrespect Wiesel or the other victims of the Holocaust and the horrors that they were forced to endure. But I felt like there was some disconnect between Wiesel's writing and his emotional response to his words.  Perhaps the only way he could relay his experiences was to slightly detach and tell the story as if he wasn't describing his own experiences.  Were there sections that were emotional?  Yes, but they were far fewer than I had expected. I went into this book preparing to be a sobbing mess and finished it without shedding a single tear.  That was unexpected.

I think part of my feelings towards this book stem from the narrator.  I wasn't a fan of Rosenblatt's occasional screaming at the listener in an attempt to relay the story.  It was abrupt, harsh and not nice to listen to.  I think that the emotion involved in those scenes could have been portrayed without screaming.

While this wasn't as strong of a read as I was hoping I still recommend it be included as part of a must-read book list for people who are interested in learning more about the Holocaust. Through Night Wiesel puts a face to the victims of the Holocaust and I give him the utmost respect for reliving the horrors he witnessed and experienced as a concentration camp survivor.  This was his reality and the reality of six million other Jews who suffered indescribably horrors at the hands of their captors and shows how easily and quickly tyranny can escalate if we don't stand up to it.  I thought that this book would change me after reading it and, while it reminds of us of how low the human race can go, I was left wishing this book had had a greater effect on me.

My Favourite Quotes by Elie Wiesel:

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” 
― Elie WieselNight


“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.” 
― Elie Wiesel


“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” 
― Elie Wiesel


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