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Schindler's Ark (Flipback)
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on 29 May 2016
Not a story which I need to recap in the broad strokes thanks to Mr Spielberg, but well worth picking up even if you think you're familiar with it. The novel stands without the sentimentality of the movie, and in the detail highlights in some ways the absolute mundanity of it, from the exploitable corruption of the Nazi's to the very capitalist nature of Schindler's own achievements in salvation.

Far more affably narrated by Keneally than you might imagine, there is little apparent effort made here to lionise the titular protagonist or turn the Nazi officers into automatic beasts. The history is ordered, presented, and allowed to stand. A remarkable book about a man who achieved little before the war, almost nothing after it, but who was enabled in a few short years to save over a thousand lives. For all of the failings on display, it's impossible not to be moved by the closing chapters.
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on 15 October 2016
The film Schindler's List totally bypassed me at the time. It was only a comment by my husband that made me look to see if the film was based on a book, and then read that book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book ,as much as you can enjoy a true life story of the atrocities shown to the Jews during the war, and I found it to be very well written, with actual events being written about, from interviews with the people who were there at the time. Admittedly the story didn't always flow smoothly, but that was due to it being written using eye witness accounts, and papers found from the time; such a shame the author never had the chance to interview Schindler himself. The story doesn't make for easy reading, and if you are easily upset, then this isn't for you, but for me it made the facts and statistics of the Holocaust become more more personalised and yet more horrific, hearing individuals personal stories and survival stories, and that men like Goeth actually enjoyed their part in the killings. This is a book every one should read.
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on 23 October 2017
If you're reading this review, that suggests that you are considering buying this novel.

Do so now.

Schindler's Ark is a remarkable novel that details a remarkable story. Oskar Schindler's rescue of thousands of men, women, and children from the Nazi death machine, is one of the most familiar narratives to arise out of the terrible events of the Holocaust and World War II. Yes, the novel details the appalling machinations that one culture employs to destroy another culture, and those details will have you reeling in horror. You will meet figures of appalling brutality; normal men and women who live only half a normal life, the other half being devoted to becoming creatures of nightmares. But you will also meet Oskar Schindler and his friends, people who give lie to the claim 'there was nothing we could do', who will reaffirm you faith in your fellow man, even as the other side seeks to destroy it. There is something gloriously anarchic in the joie du vivre with which Oskar sticks two fingers up to his own society, and tries to undo some small corner of its evil scheme. You'll cry a lot as you read, but occasionally you'll laugh, and with real pleasure. And you'll ask the question 'what would I do?'
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on 19 November 2014
Probably one of the most affecting and influential books I have ever read about the extremes of the best and worst humanity is capable of. Although many people may think they know Schindler's story from Spielberg's remarkable film, the original novel also fills in some of the bits that couldn't be shown or be added to the film because of length. It is an incredible story of human decency that Schindler, flawed like everyone, had a certain expectation of morality beneath which he would not go. He stood his ground whilst others fell as the true horror of The Final Solution erupted all around him. This is one of the most profound stories to emerge from the Holocaust and should be read as widely as possible. The story of the Holocaust in this book is one of humans, and this brings the human scale to this tragedy.
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on 7 November 2014
This is the book which the film Schindler's List was based on. I would recommend anyone who has watched the film to read the book. It explains some of the scenes in the film more fully and is a gripping, but distressing read.
At the end I was left with the inevitable question, 'Why did he do it?' A man of dubious morals, little faith and yet he risked his own life to save so many Jews. Schindler presents an enigma, he is in no sense what we would call a 'good' man, and yet he stood against authority and worked the system for the sake of people who came to regard themselves as part of the Schindler family.
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on 28 February 2015
I cannot recommend this book highly enough (I almost wrote 'novel' because that's how it reads). Four stars merely because I cannot 'love' an account of genocide and the struggle against horror. But it's not enough to say you've 'seen the film'. The book is the real deal, as good as the film is, especially in that it relates the real story eg of how the women were actually extracted from Auschwitz - and how, in reality, the list was put together.
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on 14 June 2014
I saw the film years ago but never got round to reading the book. I finally have and can only say that it is superb. It appears to be well researched and is certainly well written. This is a book that reminds as of the dreadful uncertainty of human nature. Such dreadful, barbaric crimes were committed against the Jews and others during WW11 but there were also great acts of kindness and sacrifice. Everyone should read at least one book like this to remind themselves what humans were and are capable of.
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on 21 January 2016
love it is maybe the wrong description of such a book. I saw this film recently, not wanting to watch it when it first came out believing it was too upsetting to watch. it was such a moving film that I needed to read the book.
an excellent, very moving, very upsetting book to read, but think we all should read this.
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on 18 February 2013
I originally read this book the year it was up for the Booker Prize.
Years on and I have purchased the Kindle version.
So powerful is this recount of the war years of Oskar Schindler and the characters who were saved by his interventions - I have now visited the sites mentioned in the book.
Cracow / Schindler factory / Plaskow / Auschwitz - the satellite camp right on the edge of the city much closer than I thought.
A must in anyone's library of reading - lest we forget Man's inhumanity to Man and the people who step up to the plate during these terrible times, putting their own lives and those of their families at risk to save others.
In a hundred years time, I am sure this book will still be amongst the greatest reads of all time for painting such a vivid picture of what that time in history was like for those that lived it.
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on 2 February 2015
Really nuanced and interesting investigation into the nature of evil - and a brilliant example of how, in times of tyranny, it is not the great and the good who will stand up for what is right - but the mavericks. Although he was genuinely heroic, I'm not impressed by the fact that Schindler existed, but chilled when I ask myself why there were not many more Schindlers.
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