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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful complex story about survivors.
There are so many strong stories woven into this book, almost to the point that it is hard to establish the connection. From the beginning I found it a page turner and I could hardly wait to continue. Elliot Perlman took six years to research and write this book and the detail is quite extraordinary. What is history and how is it recorded is a theme that continues...
Published on 1 Mar 2012 by sophie gardiner

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Started we'll
I enjoyed the first 2/3 of this book but then it became laboured and predictable.
Was interesting to read about the sonderkommandos. Did feel like it was co written .all in all an average book .
Published 3 months ago by Mr. B. D. Ezekiel


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful complex story about survivors., 1 Mar 2012
By 
sophie gardiner (Melbourne Victoria) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Street Sweeper (Hardcover)
There are so many strong stories woven into this book, almost to the point that it is hard to establish the connection. From the beginning I found it a page turner and I could hardly wait to continue. Elliot Perlman took six years to research and write this book and the detail is quite extraordinary. What is history and how is it recorded is a theme that continues through the book. The author has almost tried too hard and it can seem a little contrived on some occasions . I forgive him for this as the insight and the honest perspective of the holocaust message was so powerful and tragic that he has to be commended for finding a fresh approach for such a terrible tale.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'We can tell their stories. Wouldn't you want someone to tell your story?', 20 April 2012
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Street Sweeper (Paperback)
'History...it's a way of honouring those who came before us. We can tell their stories. Wouldn't you want someone to tell your story? Ultimately, it's the best proof there is that we mattered. And what else is life from the time you were born but a struggle to matter, at least to someone?'

This novel is a multi-layered collection of stories and of people that make up those stories, all deftly weaved together to create the many landscapes of lives that are depicted here.

Initially, the main characters are Lamont Williams and Adam Zignelik. Lamont has recently been released from prison after unwittingly being caught up in a crime, and is now working, for an intial six-month probationary period, as a hospital janitor in Manhattan, desperate to impress and anxious to stay out of trouble, and longing to be somehow reunited with his young daughter. During his work there, he begins a friendship with an elderly patient, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, and Lamont listens as the patient recounts his remarkable past.

Adam is a twentieth century political historian working at Columbia University, and he is also the son of a prominent Jewish civil rights lawyer. However, Adam's career has come to a standstill and he is doubting himself and his relationship. William McCray, also a civil rights activist and a long-term friend of Adam's late father Jake, suggests a possible topic that Adam might look into in order to revive his academic research.

However, the stories about Lamont and Adam also develop to involve the stories of their families, their friends, of acquaintances, whose lives have all impacted on each other in some way, whose stories are also told, and which all come together to build a picture of so many lives, and make one amazing book.

The reader is taken on an extraordinary journey through the lives of the characters, from New York to Chicago in the present day, back in time to pre-WWII Warsaw, and to Auschwitz. The stories are absorbing, and the way the characters from the present and past become linked through time is wonderful. I felt the excitement and anticipation as Adam realises how important the material he has unearthed from the past could be; a 'once in a career' find. The novel is oustandingly well written throughout, but one moving passage particularly stood out to me, when Adam is looking through the material he has found, relating to survivors at a camp for displaced persons after WWII has ended, a place...

'...where a cacophony of sounds approximating a myriad languages jostled fiercely with each other from the mouths of disparate ages and origins who shared only that, en masse, they were more broken from their first-hand experience of what humans are able to visit on one another, more broken from their unasked-for and unusally refined understanding of life's jagged extremes than perhaps any other collection of people on earth. Corralled again inside a camp, this one overseen by their liberators, they waited for a future almost as unimaginable to them as their recent past was to everybody else. Exhale too fast and you'd blow them over and with them their memories would spill out onto the very European ground their families now fertilised.'

I can't recommend this novel highly enough. For me, it is an absolutely stunning read. It makes for difficult reading at times; it made me feel painfully sad, it made me angry, it brought me to tears. The very worst of humanity, the cruelties and discrimination of racism that man has inflicted upon his fellow man, is here for us to witness. There are also moments of joy, and humour, and some incredibly humane, caring people who offer hope. The characters came so vividly to life in my head as I was reading. I couldn't wait to pick this book up again and read some more. Parts of the novel were an education for me, and caused me to stop and think, and I went off to find out more about certain dates and events. The author has undertaken a huge amount of research to bring his story to us. I love how the layers build, the story moves forward and back in time, and it all added to my pleasure in reading this novel. Please don't let the length put you off.

Ultimately, it is about individual stories and memories, about history and about humanity, and about how we as people touch each others lives.

It is a rich, intelligent, important book. I would wholeheartedly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A profoundly moving work that mixes the events of the Holocaust with those of US Civil Rights movement, 27 April 2012
This review is from: The Street Sweeper (Paperback)
Someone here reviewed this as dull and pathtetic. This is ludicrously harsh and mean spirited when there is no genuine explanation of any depth as to why this is warranted in the body of the review. I guess we all have our own tastes.
This book certainly tugs at your heartstrings, but then it's telling stories of horror and tragedy that you'd have to be made of stone not to be moved by.
I won't do any spoilers or explain the plot, except to say that the story of the civil rights and the holocaust (particularly Auschwitz and the polish ghetto) is interwoven with the story of the early part of the civil rights through a cast of very well drawn and realised characters. Then it all telegraphs to the present and our current generation mixing all three time periods. These characters are full of greatness and serious flaws, none of this is glossed over, and you start to really care profoundly about them. I'd be amazed if this extremely well written book didn't touch you, I'm also fully expecting it to be become a major film in the next few years, its narrative arc is beautifully assembled and would work very well as a film too (in the right hands). We'll see.
I would like to point out that the Holocaust part of the plot and the present day, really overtake massively from the Civil Rights part quite quickly, but both are needed to bring out the common theme of man's inhumanity to man, with the Civil Rights story evolving out Black soldiers deciding that if they could fight for a country (which they did in big numbers) they could no longer be 2nd class citizens once the fighting was over.

I've read and adored Perlman's Seven Types of Ambiguity, so it's fair to say that I'm a fan. He's a very fine writer indeed and he's very good at points of view and shifting around across time. All the human interactions never rang false for me, quite the opposite. Perlman is a generous-hearted fellow when he writes about the human condition. I found this book compelling very easy to follow(in the sense of how well written it is) and generally a profoundly good read. This book was not dashed off in a rush it's gorgeously crafted and put thogether so enjoy, if that's the right word.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GD, 22 Aug 2013
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Great book fantastic read has it all history,drama,love affairs ready to read it again and buy the author's others books. Loved it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars heart breaking, painful, tough but brilliant journey!, 18 April 2014
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I thought this book was quite interesting from the beginning but it had a very slow start for me. Actually when I was at about 30% I put it away for a while to read other stuff. But then I picked it up again and I just couldn't stop. It's not an easy read - there's so much suffering, injustice, cruelty going on, at certain points I couldn't help but stop reading for a few moments. But at the end I had an amazing feeling - a feeling of hope, a feeling of being lucky to live in present day and be who I am. I would highly recommend this book if you like the types of books that stay with you for a long time after you've put them down.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Started we'll, 27 Mar 2014
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I enjoyed the first 2/3 of this book but then it became laboured and predictable.
Was interesting to read about the sonderkommandos. Did feel like it was co written .all in all an average book .
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5.0 out of 5 stars This was a really great book, 17 Feb 2014
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I loved this book, the story was wonderful and there was a lot of good researched historical information which was interesting. Highly recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, 5 Jan 2014
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It's a while since I couldn't put a book down but this was so intriguing and beguiling. I loved it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 4 Jan 2014
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An incredible story beautifully told. Not easy to read due to the subject matter and there was one section that made me feel really ill. I almost stopped reading at that point but I felt compelled to continue and I'm glad I did. Historical fact fabulously interwoven into a fictional story of lives colliding. I'm sort of sorry I've read it because I'd like to be lucky enough to just be starting it. One of the best books I've read in a very long time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars moving account, 4 Dec 2013
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This was a very good read. Not without harrowing episodes, but just brings home man's inhumanity to man, but also man's better nature. I don't think any serious reader would be disappointed, but it is quite deep in parts.
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The Street Sweeper
The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman (Paperback - 7 Mar 2013)
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