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Searching For Schindler Paperback – 16 Apr 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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  • Searching For Schindler
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  • Schindler's Ark
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  • Schindler's List - Special Edition [DVD] (1993)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (16 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340963263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340963265
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 332,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Had I read SEARCHING FOR SCHINDLER before making the film, I may have made it an hour longer. I owe you so much. The world owes you more. (Steven Spielberg)

Keneally is incapable of writing a dull book. This memoir, listed as his 38th publication, is no exception (Andrew Riemer, Sydney Morning Herald)

a fascinating absorbing book, replete with anecdote and a quality of writing that continues to mark Keneally out as one of our finest living authors ( Herald )

Review

"Had I read Searching for Schindler before making the film, I may have made it an hour longer. I owe you so much. The world owes you more." (Steven Spielberg)

"Keneally is incapable of writing a dull book. This memoir, listed as his 38th publication, is no exception." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"SEARCHING FOR SCHINDLER is the story of author Thomas Keneally's search for the many Holocaust survivors he needed to interview while writing SCHINDLER'S ARK, the basis for the award-winning movie SCHINDLER'S LIST. On its face, the book sounds self-serving, but the listener quickly discovers that it’s a journey of self-exploration and inspiration. In many ways this is the story of how Schindler transformed Keneally. Narrator Humphrey Bower captures the joy, curiosity, and passion that overwhelmed Keneally as he discovered Oskar Schindler and the many people on his "list". This is a story about personalities, and Bower succeeds by imbuing each with a life. It all began innocuously when Keneally met Leopold Pfefferberg Page and learned how one man changed so many others' lives, and unwittingly changed his own." (AudioFile Magazine)

"This is Thomas Keneally's account of writing his novel Schindler's Ark and then seeing it turned into Spielberg's film Schindler's List. The central character is "Poldek" Pfefferberg, into whose Beverly Hills shop Keneally wandered in 1980 in search of a briefcase. Discovering he was an author, Poldek told him he had this "wonderful story" that he had to tell the world. This was the tale of Oskar Schindler, who saved hundreds of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland. Keneally portrays the improbably extravagant Poldek with affectionate grace and closes the book with a lament for his death in 2001. Keneally is appealingly forthright about the controversies that surrounded both book and film: his financial anxieties are alleviated, he's awed to be in Hollywood, he's not convinced that film is as good as words. But he never forgets that all this is nothing to the suffering of the people featured in both film and book. That ambivalence is entirely appropriate to a story of an "improbable saviour" with ambiguous motives, told by one of those he saved." (The Guardian) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating history behind what was a brilliant book in the first place.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I remember Thomas Keneally telling the story of how he came across the Schindler story when 'Schindler's Ark' ('List' in the USA) was first published. Then it won the Booker Prize and eventually, though after a long delay, was filmed by Steven Spielberg. This book covers that territory, from the moment Schindler walked into a Los Angeles bags, briefcases and leather goods shop and thereby met the extraordinary 'Leopold Page', in reality Leopold (or Poldek) Pfefferberg, to the making of the film and its success. The book is partly the story of Keneally's growing involvement in the tale and the search for other Schindlerjuden, the Jews Schindler saved, partly reflections on the Holocaust, the writing of the book, the making of the film and the moral ambiguities which surfaced in various ways at various stages of the process.

If this perhaps makes it seem a little dry, it's not. It is a highly personal book - this was often not an easy process for Keneally or his family - whose two 'heroes' are Pfefferberg, a truly remarkable man, and I think Keneally himself, though he would probably squirm in denial at that conclusion. There are interesting facts and anecdotes throughout, and many, many remarkable characters emerge, most of them other survivors. The process of getting the film made is absorbing - Keneally meeting Spielberg, the rights eventually being bought, time elasping and Spielberg working on other films, Keneally being contracted to write a screenplay, a new writer and then another being found, eventually the actual making of the film onset, meeting the actors, the first screening, the adulation - not unmixed with bitter and vociferous criticism - that it received.
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Format: Paperback
Searching for Schindler This is the story of how Thomas Keneally came to write the book. It is full of interesting snippets of information. It is less about Schindler himself than the writing of Schindler's Ark and researching the various original sources. If you want to read about Schindler the man, then you need to read Schindler's Ark Schindler's Ark. This paints a much fuller portrait of the man himself, the time he lived in and just what he did to save the Jews at huge personal risk to himself. Both books are increadibly readable and informative.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book having heard extracts on the radio. As I read the book I realised how selective the programme had been. I wish I had not spent the money buying it. I found it self indulgent on the part of the writer, just a platform for how wonderful he was. Very surprised, as I had expected a more factual account of how he gathered information on Schindler NOT a vehicle for writing about his own life. Perhaps the giveaway is the large number of photographs showing the author with various people in various settings. If I had wanted an autobiography about Thomas Keneally I would have bought one.
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Format: Audio CD
For those who loved the film Schindler's list this is a must read/hear. It is Keneally's own story of how he came across the story of Schindler. It fills in much of the background, and not having read Schindler's List/Ark, I really enjoyed this. The book also covers the story of the film being made - another fascinating drama in itself.

I listened to the audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed the brilliant narration - the reader does many of the accents of the characters from different nationalities. I listened to it on holiday and found it hard to put down - often wandering around the cottage with my iPod - stopping and replaying bits for my wife to listen to. The 9 hours certainly didn't seem like it.

The story of Schindler itself is fascinating, but Keneally lost this listeners interest for a while when he digressed into his own life as an English Professor in the gap between the book coming out and the film being made. In some ways the book seems to forget if it is the story of the search for Schindler, or the story of Thomas Keneally.

But in the overall context of such a great and fascinating story, this is a minor gripe (although it costs him a star)

I would almost recommend the audio version (bar the price) above the written version for the narrator's ability.
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Format: Paperback
Up to 1980, the name of Oskar Schindler meant little outside the community of Holocaust survivors. Then an Australian novelist needing a new briefcase walked into Poldek Pfefferburg's Hollywood store.

Keneally found in Pfefferburg a force of nature determined to reveal to the world the story of Schindler and those he saved. The book tells how, over the next 15 years, their partnership enabled Keneally to write his epochal novel, which then led Spielberg to open the story to an ever wider audience via his film. (Pfefferburg's role did not end with the success of the book, and in meetings with Spielberg he did not scruple to play the card "we're both Jews, I'm the older, so you need to regard me with respect.")

There is brief coverage of the final stages of publication, including the need to obtain legal release for mention of names not only from the Schindlerjuden but also from former SS men. (How did they get contact details for the SS veterans? Simon Wiesenthal? The Odessa? ... the mind boggles ...)

The history of the film production includes such issues as Keneally's anecdote of how Spielberg gently "sacked" him from involvement in the film, and a long discussion of the title change from the book "Ark" to the book "List". This section helps you to understand how an author, though pleased with a great film adaptation, still feels some loss of ownership and of the original spirit of his book.

Keneally shows that he is rightly proud of his achievement, but he also exhibits a candid modesty, e.g. his doubt as to whether the book, as only moderately fictionalising history, should ever have been a candidate for the Booker Prize.
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