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  • Night
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 30 March 2017
Well worth reading
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Unforgettable.
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on 8 March 2017
So interesting!
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on 9 April 2017
Amazing book!!!
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on 25 March 2017
A book that everyone should read.
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on 18 July 2017
Powerful and beautifully real
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on 5 July 2016
Elie Wiesel's death spurred me to read this book which I have put off too long because I had been reluctant to confront the horrors I knew would spring from its pages. Having read it finally, I was hesitant to review it. How do you rate and review a book that not only details an individual’s suffering, but also acts as a historical document of a monstrous atrocity against an entire race of people? Perhaps one can only do that by approaching it as a literary work, because it wouldn’t be fair to put a value on someone else's personal experience.

This slim novella wastes not a single word or phrase to convey the horror of the events, and it is all the more gut-wrenching for Wiesel’s refusal to be maudlin about the subject matter even when he is right at the heart of it. 15-year-old Eliezer lives a relatively comfortable life in the town of Sighet in Transylvania. Eliezer studies the Kabbalah under the unofficial tutelage of Moshe the Beadle, so nicknamed for his caretaker role, but who is also not highly regarded in the community. So when he miraculously survives the expulsion of Hungarian Jews who are unable to prove their citizenship, and comes back to warn the townsfolk, they are slow to believe him. That proves to be their demise.

The situation quickly deteriorates, and the reader, together with Eliezer and his bewildered family, is swept from one human indignity to another, till it becomes difficult for Eliezer to keep his faith. His relationship with his father is most poignantly conveyed to us, though Wiesel never loses sight of the larger picture in his account, that encompasses all the tens of thousands of Jews who were wrenched out of their homes, then shipped like cattle, and tortured and killed as if their lives were worth less than those of animals.

The brevity of the book is one of its major strengths, because it hits hard with its immediacy and one is left reeling from the cruel acts it documented, made all the more unbelievable and difficult to stomach because it had all happened not so long ago. In Wiesel's Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, which is appended at the end of the book, he recounts what Eliezer had asked his father: “Can this be true? This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?” That is a question that has no answer, but the book that was borne out of these events is Wiesel’s recompense to the 15-year-old boy who lived these experiences and he accounts it to him thus: “I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices”.

Unforgettable.
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on 14 March 2017
A brilliant book (if you can use that word to describe it). Bought to educate myself more about the events of the holocaust and it certainly did that. The story gives you another perspective on how things were and must have been for the victims and survivors in a way that things have read or watched previously don't. Worth reading if you wish to learn or know more.
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How one little book can contain such atrocities, I don’t know.

How those atrocities actually end up being truth, is even more unbelievable. And yet we must believe it, because this is our past.

There’s a reason why so many people say this is a must read for everybody. Yes, it’s horrid to read. It tells such a devastating story, but it’s one we have to understand. It’s our history. And if we forget about it, it’s likely to happen again. We’ll have learned nothing.

Elie Wiesel explains how it is perfectly – how we, as readers living in this day and age – can never know what it was like. We can only read and understand. We’ll never know that level of fear, hunger, distrust, confusion. We’ll never know what it’s like to live in a world of war, with entire races being wiped out at extraordinary speeds for seemingly no reason other than racist hatred. But we can read books like this, and do our best to keep their stories alive. We can remember them, and learn from them, and do our best to not let it happen again.

How such a short book can encompass so much blows my mind. You get that desperate sense of needing to survive. You get the sense of time passing, with every day being it’s own battle. And yet it’s not exaggerated. It’s not dramatised. It just explains, simply, what happened. And that’s all I really need from a nonfiction book like this.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 October 2013
Elie Wiesel's "Night" attracted little reader attention upon its first English publication in 1960, but it has subsequently become one of the best-known works of Holocaust literature. Oprah Winfrey featured the book in 2006, and it is taught regularly in secondary schools. The book also receives a great deal of attention from Amazon reviewers.

It is worth describing the background of the book for readers who may be unfamiliar. In 1954, Wiesel wrote a long manuscript in Yiddish of the book that became "Night" called "And the World Remained Silent." The book was published in Argentenia but found few readers. While working as a journalist Wiesel translated his manuscript into French and sought publication with the assistance of influential French writers. Again, publication proved difficult. Publishers in France and the United States rejected the book. Wiesel's manuscript was pruned and edited substantially and was published in French in 1958. The first English translation followed in 1960, with a second translation in 2006 by Wiesel's wife, Marion. Some scholars have found important differences between the original Yiddish memoir and "Night". The former work is a lengthy memoir, while "Night" is short and spare and more self-consciously literary in character. It hovers between a memoir and a novel.

"Night" has a strongly autobiographical basis. The narrator of the book is Eliezer, 15, and he and his father, 50, are the chief characters. The book depicts Eliezer's experiences in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and attendant camps and Buchenwald from 1944 until liberation by the United States Army in 1945. The book begins earlier in the village of Singhet, Transylvania. It shows a picture of Jewish town life immediately before the Holocaust. The Jews of Singhet are expelled and transported to Auschwitz in cattle cars.

"Night" in its condensed form is a beautifully literary work with many levels. Wiesel captures in short space the horror of the Holocaust, from the transit to the camps, to the selections, to the world of brutal violence, fear, and slavery. The lengthy final section of the book chillingly describes the transfer of the Auschwitz inmates to Buchenwald in the face of the Allied advance. Readers are unlikely to forget Wiesel's depictions. The book also unsparingly describes camp life and its dehumanization with the frequent brutality that the inmates inflicted on one another. The book works on an individual level and shows the effect of the experiences of the Holocaust on young Eliezer. It also examines closely the shifting relationship between the boy and the aged father, as the lad is forced to assume whatever responsibility he can manage to protect his parent.
With its brevity, "Night" does not offer a day-to-day portrayal of life in the camps but concentrates instead on critical events and moments.

The book is also replete with theological reflection and with literary and religious symbolism. At the outset of the work, young Eliezer is pious and wants to study the Kaballah, the compilation of Jewish mystical works. Early on, the book compares the theology of the Kaballah -- of the "Shekinah or presence of God in Exile" with the coming redemption of man. Kabbalistic redemption comes to be contrasted with the darkness and evil of the Holocaust, possibly with the theological suggestion that the latter prepares the way for the former. With his experiences, Eliezer appears to lose his religious faith or to become angry with the suffering that God allowed to happen. But religious symbolism -- in the hanging of a young man at a climactic moment, in the observance of the High Holidays in the camps, and in many passages of religious reflection pervades the book. Wiesel's religious beliefs and their relationship to the Holocaust are left ambiguous at the conclusion of the book. Readers will respond differently to Wiesel's treatment of religion and the Holocaust. Secular individuals may disagree with Wiesel's bringing religion beliefs into the understanding of the Holocaust. Religious inviduals, both Jewish people and non-Jewish people may take a variety of approaches, some of which include a sense of discomfort at "theologizing the Holocaust". Readers will want to sort through their understanding of the theological meaning of "Night" and their own thoughts on the question.

Many books, historical and fiction, have been written about the Holocaust subsequent to "Night". Wiesel's "Night" is evocative and an eye-witness account but it does not purport to exhaust the subject. "Night" is a book that deserves to be read for the immediacy of its portrayal, for its understanding of character, and for the beauty of its writing.

Robin Friedman
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