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Wartime Lies (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 4 Jan 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (4 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141188693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141188690
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 349,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

"Extraordinary...Rich in irony and regret...[the] people and settings are vividly realized and his prose [is] compelling in its simplicity."
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
As the world slips into the throes of war in 1939, young Maciek's once closetted existence outside Warsaw is no more. When Warsaw falls, Maciek escapes with his aunt Tania. Together they endure the war, running, hiding, changing their names, forging documents to secure their temporary lives--as the insistent drum of the Nazi march moves ever closer to them and to their secret wartime lies.

"From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Louis Begley was born in 1933 in Poland. Among his novels are Wartime Lies (1991), About Schmidt (1996), Mistler's Exit (1998), Schmidt Delivered (2000), Shipwreck (2003). He has received the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Fiction Award, the Irish Times - Aer Lingus Book Prize, the Prix Médicis Étranger (all for Wartime Lies), and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. He lives in New York.


Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
You know you're getting older when the Penguin Modern Classics start getting younger. Louis Begley's debut novel Wartime Lies was published in 1991, and yet here it is, getting a little silver in its spine already.

Begley is best known, if at all, for writing the novel on which the Alexander Payne/Jack Nicholson film About Schmidt was based, and clearly writes his own About the Author blurbs (details of his children's occupations, anyone?).

Wartime Lies is written by a man looking back at his childhood in Poland in the 1940s, and tells us his story as a boy ("not very different from my own life during that time," as Begley tells us in a 2004 Afterword). 1940s Poland means of course that this is a story of the Jewish experience of the Nazis, and Begley writes with clear-eyed lack of sentimentality. And yet one can't help feeling that there's something lacking when the boy, Maciek, doesn't much mourn his (probably permanent) separation from his family, when he and his aunt Tania flee to live undercover as the wife of a Polish doctor who has been imprisoned by the Russians.

And the story begins with a desperately obtuse opening chapter - testing our stamina, Begley, with your convoluted Classical references? - and continues for a time in a somewhat dull style. However it does pick up once Maciek and Tania are in hiding and on the run, and some vivid details stick out, like the brutality of the Lithuanian soldiers, and the brilliant escape which Tania effects from the trains to Auschwitz.

Nonetheless in a glut of fictionalised memoirs of this sort - from Primo Levi to Aharon Appelfeld - Wartime Lies doesn't stand out from the crowd. It's worth reading, but modern classic status is probably a few decades off just yet.
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Format: Paperback
Short and intensely moving story of a Jewish child's experiences in World War 2 Poland. The first chapter describes a pleasant middle-class upbringing but ends 'less than one year later came September 1939 and it was all over'.
From then on, the family is split up with the narrator travelling through Poland with his resourceful aunt, using false identity papers. Suspicious of everyone, careful of their every move, they pass themselves off as Catholic Poles and come close to losing their lives on a number of occasions.
Yet even in the last chapter when the war is over, the lies must be kept up. Pogroms continue in liberated Poland and as Begley concludes:
'And where is Maciek now? He became an embarrassment and slowly died. A man who bears one of the names Maciek used has replaced him. Is there much of Maciek in that man? No: Maciek was a child and our man has no childhood that he can bear to remember; he has had to invent one.'
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Format: Kindle Edition
I cam across this title in a newspaper article about anti-semitism today and ordered it on Amazon.. This is an inspiring story - semi autobiographical - of a Jewish family in the days of German occupation of Poland during the Second World War. It tells of the horrors of the Holocaust but only in the lead up to the extermination camps, not to life within. I find it utterly true to history, including recounting the Jewish people who worked for the Nazis and against their own people, as well as 'good' Germans who tried to protect them. The title - could have been better chosen - refers to the lies this family told in order to survive. The young man who is the centre of the story along with his aunt pretended to be a Catholic and not Jewish.This is part of the 'lies' in the title.All Holocaust deniers should read this book; I wonder how they would explain the history within. It is alleged that Anti-Semitism is rising in the UK. Those holding such views should read this book.It is both inspiring and educational.
It is easy reading and is not a great tome one needs to wade through. I found no places where it drags with the need to skip a few pages. The English style is good and flows along from page to page. Highly recommended
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Format: Paperback
This is a most incredibly beautiful, and at times, painful book: my own copy has been read countless times by myself, and by family visitors. The narrative, typical of those who have lived through great trauma, is very 'matter of fact', with the main characters drawing the reader into their rapidly changing lives, where life itself at times is dependant upon stylish quick-wits and intellect. The back drops of pre-war Polish life as enjoyed by a well-off Jewish family, who always thought themselves merely to be 'Polish', are tightly crafted adding to the poignancy of the coming years.
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