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The Endless Steppe Mass Market Paperback – 1 Mar 1989

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Teen; Harper Keypoint ed. edition (Mar. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006447027X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064470278
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 1.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,866,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you want a fuller picture of human tragedies of World War Two, you have Anne Frank, I Am David, and really, you need to read The Endless Steppe.

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.
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Format: Library Binding
This is the true story of a childhood lived in hardship. It will be enjoyed by readers who liked "Chinese Cinderella" or "The Breadwinner".
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Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
Great item arrive on time
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars 116 reviews
80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I spoke to Esther. Her book has impacted me for 22 years. 8 April 2003
By Christy - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Esther's wonderfully sincere and illustrative writing will hold even an adult's attention from cover to cover. I have read it over and over again for the last 22 years. As a child in 1979 at age 11, I found myself in my family's frozen garden pretending to be Esther herself, wandering through Siberia in search of frozen potatoes. When I would take a bath, after playing in the snow and getting chilled, I would revel in the marvelous heat of the water and imagine I had just been given a rare cake of soap. When thirsty, I would make myself wait for a drink of cool water from the tap until my throat was parched, so that the first drip of water on my tongue would be heavenly. I would then suck the water into my cheeks as Esther did and swallow very slowly, trying to make it last. My younger sister and I would walk into my dad's livestock truck and pretend we were on a cattle car headed for the Steppe, and we would make a makeshift hut under a log fort we had near the barnyard. Esther's life story filled my thoughts, my days and my head for years following, and reminded me to always care for others and not to take my life in rural United States for granted. Esther wrote in a way that made me feel as if I had somehow managed to form a personal friendship with her.
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.
71 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Other Tyranny 9 Jan. 2001
By cnyadan - Published on
Format: Paperback
Here in America, when someone mentions the atrocities of World War II, most people think immediately of the Holocaust and Hitler's plan to rid the world of Jews and establish the German "master race".
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.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite childhood books... 26 Mar. 2000
By a reader - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like many other reviewers here, I discovered this book at the age of 8, during the 1970s and have re-read it many times since. When I moved to New York in the early 1990s I found myself living only a few blocks from Esther Hautzig, and acutally met her daughter once in a store. I had to tell her that her mother's book was one of the most memorable I had read as a child - and I was a bookworm who consumed a minimum of four books per week. Several years ago I discovered another book by Ms. Hautzig, "Remember Who You Are" - a series of autobiographical stories, written for adults; many of these stories tell what happened to the people the reader first met in "The Endless Steppe". I was fascinated to learn, for example, that Miss Rachel - Esther's governess in Vilna - was also sent to Siberia and one day took the risk of illegally hitching a ride (during that time in the USSR one needed permission to travel internally from the local commissar; failure to do so could result in imprisonment or worse) from the village where she was living to Esther's village, showing up totally unexpectedly. (Miss Rachel now lives in Israel.) Evidently Ms. Hautzig's editors advised her to leave that incident out of "The Endless Steppe" because readers would not find it believable. Also related in this collection is the fate of Esther's beloved cousin, Salek, in the Vilna ghetto, and the heartbreaking deaths of her maternal grandmother and her favourite aunt at Ponar. At any rate, I advise any parent who wishes to give his/her child a book to be cherished and re-read, a book about the strength and importance of the family, about a place and time that is rapidly fading into history, to buy this book. And for the adult who read and loved "The Endless Steppe" as a child, try to find "Remember Who You Are" at the library as I believe it is out of print.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adjusting in the Worst of Times 23 Jan. 2000
By Alyssa D. - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Endless Steppe, by Esther Hautzig, is the true story of a young Jewish girl named Esther Rudomin, and her family living in Siberia. The Story takes place during World War II, when the wealthy Rudomin Family are pronounced capitalists. They're removed from their beautiful home and loved ones in Vilna, Poland. They are taken by train, along with peasant families to an endless steppe in Siberia where they are forced to work in various places, including a gypsum mine. Siberia lacks many necessities. The only way they are able to survive the harsh Siberian conditions is the thought that they must never be brought down. With the help of many friends along the way, the Rudomins eventually learn to fit into the Siberian puzzle. Every obstacle becomes part of their everyday life for five long years. I thought this was a great book because it shows how a wealthy family could survive in complete poverty during the worst of times. The book also showed how a once spoiled little girl, learned how to see life on the other side of the fence.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Endless Steppe 6 Dec. 2000
A Kid's Review - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Endless Steppe is about a young Jewish girl named Esther who lived in Vilna, Poland during World War II. She is convicted of being a capitalist, an enemy of the people. She and her family are put into a cattle car along with 40 other people and taken to an endless steppe of Siberia where she will spend the next five years of her life. Esther has to learn how to adjust to the steppe including making friends, the tempature, the amount of food given to her daily, and dealing with the normal worries a teenager has to face. As if that were not enough, Esther has to face physical pain while working in the potato fields. Then when a snow storm hits, her mother has to go out looking for her. At the end, the Russian soldiers came to get them and Esther is so attached to her new home she doesn't want to leave. At certain times in the book it really seems like God is there with them. She and her family go from having a life full of privilege to a life with barely any food or water. I think Esther Hautzig tells this story with wonderful energy and excitement. It has beautiful descriptions of the setting and characters. The conversations take your breath away with fascination. This book is a drama, comedy and an exhilarating story. I think if you are interested in a story that sort of gets you ready for bigger books about the Holocaust you should definably read this book. It is an exciting yet fascinating story, although it would be better for people ages ranging from 8-14. It is a difficult but intriguing story that will fascinate young adult readers!
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