- Hardcover: 664 pages
- Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (30 Aug. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374139644
- ISBN-13: 978-0374139643
- Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.5 x 23.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,246,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Emperor of Lies Hardcover – 30 Aug 2011
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'Sem-Sandberg's achievement is that this history becomes but a background to a multitude of vivid characters, whose experiences he weaves expertly into a mesmerising whole ... a novel about heart-wrenching suffering and extraordinary evil, transformed by Sem-Sandberg's talents into an irresistible work of fiction.' -- Guardian >> Fiction of true moral force, brilliantly sustained and achieved . . . stunning. -- Hilary Mantel >> Scene after scene comes vividly to life. . . A memorable examination of human resilience and the will to survive. . . a most distinguished addition to the literature of the holocaust.' -- Daily Express >> This brutally vivid narrative [is] a compelling homage to a community wiped off the map. -- Scotland on Sunday >> With this book, Sem-Sandberg steps into the magic circle of leading European writers. . . It is the humanity of the storytelling, so rich and vivid and yet under such complete control, which entices the readers of this dark book . . . [a] masterly novel. --Independent >> Sem-Sandberg's recreation of the Lodz ghetto, utterly convincing, rich in sympathy and understanding, is more a lightly fictionalised documentary than a work of the imagination. --Allan Massie, Scotsman
Irresistable . . . absorbing from first page to last . . . Dickens would have been very pleased with this novel.' -- --Guardian --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
The Emporer of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg is a compelling tale of power, corruption and compromise from one of Scandinavia's most revered authors. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
This is the subject of "The Emperor of Lies", whose hero or anti-hero is Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, an elderly Jewish businessman, who was chosen to be the leader of the Lodz ghetto in Poland, the second greatest Jewish ghetto there. This ghetto was established by the Nazis in February 1940 and it hosted a quarter of a million Jews. It was separated by barbed wire. Rumkowski,or "King Chaim", as he was better known, was cynical, ambitious, devious, monarchical, devilish, arrogant, cunning, vain and " uneducated who resorted to the coarsest of threats and insults" and with whom "no one even wanted to share a table". He managed to establish a whole industry of workshops manufacturing many products to be sent to the Nazi army and administered tens of thousands of Jews under the slogan which he created, namely: "Our only way is Work". This is a reminder of what the Nazi beasts engraved at the entrance of Auschwitz: "Arbeit Macht Frei". Thus starts the odyssey of the reader into the dark, sombre and tragic times of the ghetto, and whose fate is well known. The novel is a stupendous achievement, because of some reasons.
First, this is a great work of imagination, which manages to recreate not only the ghetto but also the historical context of it. The book has many and various characters and episodes which come all alive and the reader has the impression that he is watching each and every moment of them.Read more ›
Not a consecutive narrative, but a series of 'snapshots' of the wartime experiences of the inhabitants, perhaps most terribly the regular demands by the Nazis that the ghetto periodically hand over set numbers of its people to go to 'work camps'.
"They demand that we give them the very things most valuable to us- our children and our old people....I must now reach out my hands and ask: Brothers and sisters, give them to me. Give me your children!"
Perhaps the part that will remain most vividly with me is the heartbreaking final section where one of the young men hides from transportation and attempts to live out a Polish winter with almost no food or heat in an almost deserted ghetto.
The author doesn't attempt to solve the controversy that has always persisted about Rumkowski; I didn't finish the book with a 100% certainty of what I felt about him. Sem-Sandberg doesn't describe 'the Emperor's' feelings as he does other characters, and while he had huge personal failings, he was in an impossible political position.
Taking place between 1940 and 1944, the novel opens with two contrasting passages. The first, a memorandum from December, 1939, announcing the Germans' intention to enclose the two hundred twenty-thousand Jews in Lodz within a ghetto--"a temporary measure." In the second passage, a scene from September 1 - 4, 1942, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowsky, Chairman of the Jews' Ruling Council of Elders, must give the population news so inhuman and so devastating, that the Chairman of the Warsaw ghetto, took cyanide rather then give that same news to his own people. Ten thousand residents, chosen from babies and children under the age of ten and "elderly" over the age of sixty-five, were to be handed over to the Gestapo for immediate "relocation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this, although it is terribly sad. Fascinating, frightening and very educational. A whole area I haven't previously known about. Read morePublished on 16 Feb. 2014 by Bing
I do object to having to write something after I have rated a product. I have expressed my opinion by rating it haven't I?Published on 8 Jan. 2014 by Mr. J. Biltcliffe
This book provides a superb realisation of life for the ghetto dwellers of Lvov, until the ghetto's final claerence in 1944. Read morePublished on 6 Jun. 2013 by markb
An amazing book. Written with touches of magic realism entirely appropriate for the unreal atmosphere of the ghetto, so hard to imagine for those who, fortunately, never... Read morePublished on 2 Jun. 2013 by M. E. Keenan Lindsey
Well, the Holocaust has now been done from every angle. What's new? What can shock us? What can we learn? Read morePublished on 27 July 2012 by London Matron
I have read extensively about the Lodz Ghetto and MC Rumkowski. This book has a number of failings. Firstly it lacks flow and is very difficult to follow. Read morePublished on 21 May 2012 by CFS198
I couldn't believe that life in the wartime ghettos could have been anything but horrendous for the inmates until I read this book. Read morePublished on 28 April 2012 by lifelongreader
This is an extraordinary piece of Literature that I think really must be read. The book centres on life in a Jewish ghetto, mixing both fact and fiction, giving the reader an... Read morePublished on 21 Feb. 2012 by Ms. S. J. Green
This book is too long by half. Where was the editor? The author should have spared us the hallucinatory ramblings of ghetto victimsPublished on 21 Feb. 2012 by menapia