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Harper Collins

After The Holocaust

$17.95

Harper Collins

After The Holocaust

$17.95

Striking cover art and abundant photographs will help attract readers to this grim—and not wholly successful—work.

Greenfeld (The Hidden Children) contends that little attention has been paid to the vast difficulties facing young Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.

To fill that stated void, he focuses on eight adults, mostly from Eastern Europe but all currently living in the U.S., who relate their postwar experiences in their own words.

Their stories prove gripping and the author effectively demonstrates the complexity of postwar conditions.

However, the premise is not entirely accurate: many Holocaust memoirs lengthily and sensitively discuss how survivors overcame extreme obstacles, from anti-Semitism in their native lands to hardships in displaced-persons camps to domestic upheavals in partially reunited families.

(The books of Aranka Siegal, Anita Lobel, Ruth Minsky Sender, Johanna Reiss and Renée Roth-Hano, among others, come to mind; but the bibliography here refers readers instead to general nonfiction mostly written for adults.)

Greenfeld also breaks up his interviewees' narratives, presenting segments from each person's experience in four sections (e.g., "Liberation," "After the Liberation: The Search"); the structure makes it difficult to keep all eight individuals straight and also creates or allows for gaps (Why does a Zionist group prevent a Jewish mother, also a survivor, from taking custody of her 12-year-old daughter?).

While this work falls short of the overview it seems to promise, it provides fresh awareness of the Holocaust and the war.

Ages 12-up.