4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Horrifyingly thought provoking search for one man's roots.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Heshel's Kingdom (Hardcover)
This book begins with the premise that if the author's grandfather had not died then the author would never have been born. A seemingly strange premise but, by the book's end the reader realises how totally and horribly true the premise is. Jacobson tackles a subject which he has to deal with in both an historical and autobigraphical context. Hitler's "treatment" of Jews in World War 11 is a subject which has been the subject of countless books but, in this book, Jacobson takes a unique approach. He charts the family tree of his own family and up until World War 11 not a lot seems to happen apart from the usual attempt to escape from poverty so familiar to the many peasant peoples of Europe. The only other notable feature is the ghettoisation or setting apart of the Jewish communities in Europe. By the time Jacobson embarks on his search for his roots he is well aware of the historical events which have taken place but is unaware of their reality. The narrative which can sometimes be tedious is apallingly moving in that the destruction described is the destruction of ordinary things. The things which make life seem normal, roads, communities, towns, graveyards,public records and so on cease to exist and it is almost impossible to understand why they are gone. How can a centuries old graveyard suddenly cease to operate because no one is left to die? For someone unfamiliar with the Jewish history of the WW11 era Jacobson paints a very basic summary.For those who are familiar with it Jacobson brings it alive and asks difficult questions about the future history of the Jewish people. Ultimately this book asks us to remember not so much how these peple lived but how they died. It also asks us to prevent any similar recurrences for any group and highlights the failures of the international comunity in this regard in the recent past.Not a pleasant read but I wouldn't have missed it fotr the world.