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4.7 out of 5 stars
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HALL OF FAMEon 19 January 2006
I recall when I first read 'Night', it was just after Elie Wiesel had given a lecture at my university. It was in the mid-1980s, and the lecture hall was standing-room-only. Wiesel's presentation moved us to tears, and moved us to anger, and moved me to want to follow up on his words by reading what he had written.
This is supposed to be fiction, but in a style that seems to be typical of many modern Israeli novelists, it is so close to the truth of the actual events that transpired in Wiesel's life that it might as well be treated as autobiographical. This is actually part of a trilogy - Night, Dawn, and The Accident - although each element stands alone with integrity.
How does one deal with survival after such atrocities as that at Birkenau and Auschwitz? How can one have faith in the world? How can one accept that a people so closely identified with a powerful God can ever accept that God again? Where is God in the midst of such things?
Wiesel himself as spent his life in search of such answers, but doesn't provide them here. Why then would one want to read such accounts as these? Wiesel was silent for many years, until he was brought into speech and writing as a witness to the events. Wiesel proclaims that there is in the world now a new commandment - 'Thou shalt not stand idly by' - when such things are happening, one must act. One must remember the past in all its personal aspects to both honour those who suffered and to forestall such things happening again (which, given the the depressing repetitive nature of history, is a difficult task).
This is the longest short book I've ever read. It is one that has stayed with me from the first page, and I've never been able to shake the images brought forward, the misery and suffering, the existence of evil and brutality, the sadness and desolation. We live in a culture that likes to gloss over pain and suffering, mask it with drugs and other things, and always end the story with a happy ending.
There is no happy ending here - even Wiesel's own survival is a questionable good here. How does one live after this? How does the world go on?
One thing is certain, we must never forget, and this book is part of that active remembering that we are called to do.
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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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on 28 March 2000
Without a doubt this is one of the greatest books of the twentieth century, made even greater by the fact that it comes from one of humanity's darkest moments. Through the telling of his own childhood experiences in pre and post-nazi Hungary, and later as an adolescent in the Third Reich's deathcamps, Elie Wiesel raises powerful questions. The book questions the whys and wherefores of the Holocaust, demanding to know where was God? Where was Man? And how should one respond to the terrible brute fact of the tragedy of the Jewish people? The book provides an excellent, thoughtful (wise even) and compelling introduction to Wiesel's life and work and to the themes of Holocaust literature and response in general. By asking questions the book calls for answers, not only from nations, governments, religious authorities and God, but also from the reader himself. Reading this book is no light undertaking, but it is a necessary one for anyone (Jew and non-Jew alike) who wishes to consider the implications of the Holocaust for all Humankind. I cannot recommend this powerful novel highly enough.
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on 15 September 2001
It's hard to know what to say about this book: I have a feeling that what it describes should only be told in its own words. This is a harrowing book, but not because it contains any conventionally horrific scenes or language. There is no attempt to shock: nothing of the protest leaflet, or charity advert. There is no attempt to pretend that people who died were perfect, or that they had nothing to do with their fate. (The account of how Wiesel's Jewish town refused to believe accounts of the killing of Jews is one such harrowing moment.)
I would like to say how I came to buy this book. An Essex library had four bookcases (floor to chest height) full of books by the door. They were selling them. Among them was this book and Tadeuz Borowski's collection of stories. The words "Lest we forget" come to mind.
I would urge people to read this book: not immediately, but to remember it and to read it when you wish to understand this period and this happening. (Some people might quail at that use of "understand", and I would agree; but the attempt to understand is all that I have.) This book is a record of what many people haven't had to live through. Knowledge and pity can be behind wrong as well as right decisions; but there is a carelessness that can go with a lack of them. One can seek to do good and end up doing evil, but that is not the same as the carelessness that is unaware of whether it does good and evil because it has never asked what they are. I think this book has made me less careless.
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on 23 January 2006
This personal account of the holocaust by Elie Wiesel's book is a horrifying story of the Nazi death camps. The author tells the story in a simple manner, yet it is easy for a reader to end up feeling haunted by the accounts in NIGHT. It stirs sadness and profound questions in the bosom of a reader. The lessons from this book about the evil side of fallen human nature and the faith, courage and moral strength to fight the evil must never be forgotten. I recommend this book to any reader interested in the holocaust and the specter of mass killings plaguing the world today.Survival In Auschwitz, Union Moujik, Shake hands with the Devil, Disciples of Fortune,First They Killed My Father, Triple Agent Double, King Leopold's Ghost, Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare,The Gulag Archipelago are also recommended reads to help have a better understanding of threat humanity faces from the evil ideologies of hate
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on 17 May 1999
The book "The Night" by Elie Wiesel does not do less then make you think how lucky you are to be in this world with your family. As a kid Elie Wiesel was sent to Auschwitz, Buna and Buchenwald which are described full and a bit in exaggaration to the "good" side. Most of the description of the pogroms that are in te book are in a way, too gentle and not as harsh as the real pogroms were. it might be on purpose the the author does that, in order not to shock people and frighten them too much, but as a Jew whose grandfather was saved from the war, I know that this is a bit different than what really happened. I read this book as an assignment and could not put it down for a minute, I was actually quite sorry when I realized I had finished it.
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HALL OF FAMEon 5 January 2006
I recall when I first read 'Night', it was just after Elie Wiesel had given a lecture at my university. It was in the mid-1980s, and the lecture hall was standing-room-only. Wiesel's presentation moved us to tears, and moved us to anger, and moved me to want to follow up on his words by reading what he had written.
This is supposed to be fiction, but in a style that seems to be typical of many modern Israeli novelists, it is so close to the truth of the actual events that transpired in Wiesel's life that it might as well be treated as autobiographical. This is actually part of a trilogy - Night, Dawn, and The Accident - although each element stands alone with integrity.
How does one deal with survival after such atrocities as that at Birkenau and Auschwitz? How can one have faith in the world? How can one accept that a people so closely identified with a powerful God can ever accept that God again? Where is God in the midst of such things?
Wiesel himself as spent his life in search of such answers, but doesn't provide them here. Why then would one want to read such accounts as these? Wiesel was silent for many years, until he was brought into speech and writing as a witness to the events. Wiesel proclaims that there is in the world now a new commandment - 'Thou shalt not stand idly by' - when such things are happening, one must act. One must remember the past in all its personal aspects to both honour those who suffered and to forestall such things happening again (which, given the the depressing repetitive nature of history, is a difficult task).
This is the longest short book I've ever read. It is one that has stayed with me from the first page, and I've never been able to shake the images brought forward, the misery and suffering, the existence of evil and brutality, the sadness and desolation. We live in a culture that likes to gloss over pain and suffering, mask it with drugs and other things, and always end the story with a happy ending.
There is no happy ending here - even Wiesel's own survival is a questionable good here. How does one live after this? How does the world go on?
One thing is certain, we must never forget, and this book is part of that active remembering that we are called to do.
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on 25 January 2013
'Never shall i forget that first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall i forget that smoke. Never shall i forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies i saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall i forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall i forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall i forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall i forget these things, even if i am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.'

Elie Wiesel - Night.

This book is as sickening as it is simple, as brave as it is barbaric and so poignantly sad that it stirred not only devastating heartbreak but also uncontrolable rage. I've read my fair share of WWII stories but even though this is only 126 pages long it is by far the most painfully honest & horrendously bleak account, compounded by the fact that Elie Wiesel was only a child.

This should be a mandatory read for everyone, least we forget.

I know this story will never leave me. Never.
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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 17 February 2005
This personal account of the holocaust by Elie Wiesel's book is a horrifying story of the Nazi death camps. The author tells the story in a simple manner, yet it is easy for a reader to end up feeling haunted by the accounts in "Night". It stirs sadness and profound questions in the bosom of a reader. The lessons from this book about the evil side of fallen human nature and the faith, courage and moral strength to fight the evil must never be forgotten. I recommend this book to any reader interested in the holocaust and the specter of mass killings plaguing the world today.
Also recommended are: SURVIVAL IN AUSCHWITZ, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE
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