RSS

Tag Archives: survival

Review – The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz – Denis Avey

Avey_Auschwitz_mech.inddThe Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz
Author: Denis Avey

Description:
The almost unbelievable story of Denis Avey, now 92, began in 1944 when he was captured and sent to a POW work camp. He was put to work every day in a German factory, where he labored alongside Jewish prisoners from a nearby camp called Auschwitz. The stories they told him were horrifying. Eventually Avey’s curiosity, kind-heartedness, derring-do, and perhaps foolhardiness drove him to suggest–and remarkably manage–switching places with two of the Jewish prisoners in order to spend a couple of harrowing days and nights inside. Miraculously, he lived to tell about it.

Review:
I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a review of this book, but it seemed kind of appropriate considering that yesterday (the day that I finished it), marked 20 years since the Holocaust Museum opened in DC. And i had just spent an afternoon there the previous week (even though I have been multiple times, it is still an emotional/moving experience that leaves me shaken). This was particularly so because on the cover of the book, you could see the sign from Auschwitz that said “Work Will Make You Free” (translated). There is a similar replication of that sign at the Holocaust Museum. I found it interesting that there has been some debate over that sign – it was a well-documented fact that it was over the gates of Auschwitz I (the most well-known of the satellite of the camps). However, according to testimony in the book, it also appeared as a sign over Auschwitz III, right next to the POW camp where Avey was being held.

I do have to admit that I was expecting a bit more – when you see a book that is titled, “The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz,” – you would likely expect lots of danger and intrigue. There was that, but at the same time, I think that the author also played down his accomplishment. Yes, he could have been killed for what he did – but he managed to survive. I also expected that it would going to be for a long period that what actually occurred – but the majority of the book was dedicated to the lead-up to him becoming a POW, and then his life post-war. The POW portion of the war only encompassed about 6 short chapters in the book. But they were intriguing – I guess it would be hard to write on a topic when you experienced the same hell, day in and day out.

But stories like this are intrigued to me. I always thought that if I decided to pursue a graduate degree in history (rather than psychology), that I would likely focus on the Holocaust or some other aspect of war/military history. But at the same time, I had never considered looking at it from a psychological perspective. But that is just me mumbling away. I would definately recommend this book for anyone who is interested in WW2 memoirs. I think that it would also be a good book for students studying the WW2 European theatre because the author touches on a lot of the different operations that were on-going (the Africa Korps, Rommell in Africa, some of the Naval battles); as well as his time as a POW. It is a sad thought knowing that each year, more and more people with this memories are dying and soon there will be none left – and all that will remain are memoirs like Avey’s and personal recollections, like the work done by the Shoah Foundation to record the stories of survivors.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Audiobook Review – The Lifeboat – Charlotte Rogan (@charlotte_rogan @RebeccaGibel)

The Lifeboat
Author: Charlotte Rogan

Narrator: Rebecca Gibel
Run Time: 7hrs and 47 minutes
Publisher: Hachette Audio

Book Description:
Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she’d found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

Review:
So I have to say upfront, that I originally started reading this book in print and kept getting distracted. I know that it wasn’t a very long book, but for some reason at that time, it just wasn’t clicking. But after seeing the good review that my friend Naomi gave it, I decided to give it another try and put my name on the reservation list for the audiobook (and FWIW, having to wait for it to come in when you are 45th on the list sucks! I think it took about 4 months for it to come in…).

Being a psychologist in training (if I ever finish this damn PhD), I loved the way that the author managed to intersperse different ideas into the novel. Yes, it was a story of survival – but there were so many other elements – the idea of hope and giving up – can you survive when you think there is nothing more out there? How various people emerge different roles in situations of high stress. The notion of group think in a scenario like this? Stockholm syndrome and how it can affect people’s behavior, both during and after events. And so many more – but don’t worry, I won’t be too much of a dork – but it did hit my enjoyment button in all the right places. I enjoyed how she used flashbacks to tell most of the story – it is often a hard writing style to pull off, but it was well-done. My only gripe I had was the ending was fairly obvious – I was able to figure out what was going to happen about half-way through – but that didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book.

Rebecca Gibel is a brand-new audiobook narrator to me, and I can tell you for sure that it won’t be the last time I listen to something done by her. There was something melodic about her voice, that I was just sucked in. It was a relatively short audiobook and because I enjoyed the narration so much – I sat in my car at work one morning and listened to like another 15 minutes of the book (much to my co-workers disgust because she was waiting for me to get coffee – don’t worry, she gave up and went by herself ;) ) I did like how she was able to draw on a variety of accents that encompassed the different countries of origin of the passengers. As the majority of the book was told from Grace’s perspective, I wasn’t really able to tell how well she did male voices, so that is going to be something that I am looking out for in the future listens. But overall, totally worth it. I would give both the narration and the book itself 3.5 stars, but rounding up to 4.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Audiobook Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 414 other followers