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4.4 out of 5 stars
28
Brothers
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 14 October 2013
Bernice Rubens' 'Brothers', first published in 1983, tells the tragic and heartbreaking story of several generations of the Jewish Bindel family. Beginning in Tsarist Russia in 1825, we learn of the birth of the milk brothers, not exactly brothers, but two baby boys born on the same day, to the same family: Benjamin, born to Jakob and Esther; and Reuben, born to Jakob's and Esther's daughter, Miriam, and their son-in-law, Leon. Thus begins the saga of the Bindel family, and what a saga this novel is, as we read of the persecution of the Jewish people from the beginning of the nineteenth century until the latter part of the twentieth century. In this story we learn how Benjamin and Reuben are forced into the Russian army as ten-year-olds and how, by remembering Jakob's words to them before they left that, if necessary, they must submit in order to survive and that nothing is worth dying for unless it is in the name of love, they both manage to cope with the army's extreme and brutal treatment of them, treatment which causes the death of many of their young fellow soldiers. We learn of their eventual return as adults to their family, only to face the terrors of the Odessa pogrom; we learn of their family's escape from Russia to Wales, where one member tries to break away from his Jewish heritage and marries a coal miner's daughter; we read of the family's move to Germany, only to be persecuted by the Nazis; and we read of the family's return to Russia where one member is incarcerated in a Russian mental hospital for his dissident views.

Large in volume and in scope, this epic novel makes for a gripping and emotional reading experience and I should imagine that most readers would find it difficult not be moved to tears during the reading of some parts of this novel, especially those sections dealing with Buchenwald and Auschwitz. Even though, at times, I felt the author was a little too relentless in her tragic portrayal of the terrible events which befell her Bindel family, I could not fail to be moved by this very poignant and affecting story about family, about human relationships and about what it means to be Jewish. An impressive and powerful novel by a compelling storyteller and one to keep on the bookshelf to revisit again.

5 Stars.
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on 30 August 2013
Bought this for my son, as I loved it so much when I read it. (So much so that I didn't want to part with my copy & had to buy him his own) Don't read this if you're wanting a jolly historical romp, or a misty-eyed & nostalgic family saga though! If you're prepared for a gritty, bleak, but very human, touching, thought-provoking, excellently researched and completely absorbing novel, however, you cannot do better. Although it tells of the worst that humans can do to each other, there is also warmth, love and humanity along with the violence, sacrifice and tragedy. One of the best books I've read and I will definitely read it again. In fact, on reading this back, I might well go and get it off the bookshelf and read it again right now!
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on 2 March 2015
I bought the book for someone else, she hasn't read it yet, because I have read it twice and the second time I got so much more out of it. Bernice Rubens was so good and so funny, but this book was different from her others, but still easy to read and informative in a concise way. I really recommend this book.
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on 7 March 2015
You can't help but feel completely involved and apart of the Bindel family as they move across Europe over the generations. This sense of involvement leaves you feeling deeply moved, troubled and engaged as you feel their pain and struggle to survive.

I would recommend this book to everyone.
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on 21 March 2016
A weak follow up to Marathon Man
One person found this helpful
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on 23 November 2014
Great read
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on 15 January 2014
Having recently been in China I was interested to read a book which had been a chinese best seller. I enjoyed the book but there are no great insights into chinese life. It is however a great story that rolls along and carries you along too.
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on 1 July 2014
This is the most beautifully written book that I have ever read! I would thoroughly recommend it. Everyone much appreciate wonderful story.
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on 17 May 2016
great story-heart breaking.
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on 16 May 2015
Really good moving book
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