The Endless Steppe Mass Market Paperback – 1 Mar 1989
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|Mass Market Paperback, 1 Mar 1989||
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"Radiates optimism "and the resilience of human spirit. A magnificent book."--" The Washington Post"Rare, affecting . . . the book will take its place with Anne Frank's "Diary Of A Young Girl"--" The Horn Book
About the Author
Esther Hautzig is the author of many books for children and adults. The Endless Steppe is an autobiographical account of her childhood in Siberia. It was a 1969 National Book Award nominee and an ALA Notable Children's Book of 1968. It also received the 1969 Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the 1971 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. Mrs. Hautzig is also the author of Riches, an original Jewish folktale, which was a finalist for the 1993 Jewish Book Award. She lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
It wasn't just the Nazis committing atrocities in this period. Easy to forget this, and I had. When I realised that Esther and her family are not taken from their home and shoved onto cattle trucks by Germans but by the Russians in 1941, I was shocked at my ignorance.
It's a story not unlike the train journeys heading to concentration camps. Esther's Polish parents are accused of being capitalists, and taken to Siberia, where they then live and work for five years.
Being a true account, we know that Esther as author is going to make it back alive. But this doesn't stop her story being any less horrifying, sad and moving. Friends and acquaintances die around her - from the freezing conditions, starvation, the work.
The conditions of Esther's new life are tragic, their existence unbelievable, and seeing her become used to her surroundings, eventually attend school and grow up feeling all those feelings we've all experienced (jealousy over a nice pair of boots, feeling for a boy, craving success in the talent show) - she could be any teenager anywhere.
It isn't a long novel, and she doesn't dwell on any one incident for long, the book moves along to a swift conclusion of how she makes it back to Poland at the end of the war (a little too quickly, I thought).
I'm glad I've finally discovered this, and hope to encourage the age group this would be best used with to read it - 11-15 year olds, ideally in school. It would work well alongside studies of World War Two, Anne Frank and twentieth century European history.
It's a very human account of an adolescent caught up in horrific circumstances, and how she and her family did their best to pull through together. Uplifting and desperately sad.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In 1995, I was able to speak with Esther on the phone, and I have never forgotten that wonderful conversation. Talking with her (she still has a very noticable accent) was as if the book itself came to life, because I realized I was actually visiting with the woman who was the couragous child in the book. Esther's writing encouraged me to be thankful, to be grateful, to be kind, and to never give up. I majored in journalism in college, and though I have never had such an extreme happening in my lifetime, I hope to eventually put down in words something that will touch other's lives as Esther Hautzig touched mine.
However, Hitler was not the only one during this time committing atrocities which killed millions of people. The Soviets were guilty of this as well, though this is not as well known to Americans.
This is the story of a young girl who is a victim of the Soviet forced-labor camps. Her family did nothing wrong, but with the Russian invasion of Poland, her parents and grandparents were considered "capitalists" and therefore deported to Siberia.
This book is very well written. The characters are very well deveoped, which is especially important since this book is autobiographical. Reading this gives a real sense of how far out in the middle of nowhere these people were. There is the beauty of this pristine land versus the terror which haunts the people who have been sent here, as well as the true desolation of the place. In time, Esther, who is 15 by the end of the book, really feels that this is the place her life is, rather than Poland, where she lived before, even though this is the place of her imprisonment. Hautzig also does a good job of describing the constant suffering and scrabbling for humanity that these people went through as political prisoners. It was a hopeless situation, but the one thing that they could least give up was hope.
This is one of the very few children's (or young adult) books that does focus on what was happening in the Soviet Union during this time. There are many kids books which focus on the Germans and the Holocaust, but that was only part of the story, and to forget the rest of these people who suffered and died because of the same sort of tyranny is an affront to them.