I just finished reading Isaac's Army: A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland.
This book was hard to read. The story is a painful one. This book tells the story of a number of Polish Jewish families in Warsaw Poland during World War Two. It tells the story of those that fled Poland, those that hid, those that fought, and many that died.
I started this book relatively ignorant of this part of history. I understood that there had been a Jewish uprising against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto from reading "Unintended Consequences". What I didn't understand was what the ghetto truly was. This book changed that, irreparably.
In reading this book I found myself waiting and hoping for the moment of heroic triumph where the huddled masses unite and crush their Nazi oppressors. I kept hoping for the drone of legions of American bombers to fly over and put an end to the death trains and Auschwitz-bound rail cars.
The best part of this book almost reaches this crescendo. The chapter where the resistance defends the ghetto from the SS and Wehrmacht is thrilling. After the murder of tens of thousands, the relief of fighting back was overwhelming. Then the resistance collapses, and it is heartbreaking.
The worst part of the book is the hopelessness. The author does a remarkable job of placing you in the mind of the people. This makes you feel it, viscerally, when you hear that your hometown had been destroyed, with everyone man/woman/child/gentile/jew killed and buried in shllow mass graves.
As I said previously, this was exceptionally hard to read. The darkness of the story still lingers with me, punctuated with the sad knowledge that this is not fiction.