This is a haunting, absorbing novel based on documents from the £odz ghetto, unforgettably detailing the years of slow disintegration and betrayal, the loss of control to Nazis by the self-important leader, Chaim Rumkowski, the Eldest of the Jews, who, corrupt himself, repeatedly tries to bargain with them. Full of observations about a world with no possible beyond or future, there are hardpunching vignettes of a cast of individuals, told poetically and in excruciating detail, as they decline into starvation, dream-states, and death. I’ve never read a more impressive book.
I must admit that I gave up on this book after 280 pages. It was advertised as an analysis of the main character as either a corrupt, power hungry opportunist or someone trying to save Lodz Jews. But it was obvious in the first few pages that Rumkowski was no Schlindler. Unfortunately the book went on and on in graphic detail about the betrayal and inhumane treatments of the Jews by the Nazis. If you were a Halocaust non-believer this might be a good book. But if you are already aware of what happened to the European Jews in WWII, this was just gore upon gore upon gore.
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