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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Schindler's List/Schindler's Ark (1982) by Thomas Kennally

Image result for schindler's list neeson
Liam Neeson's performance as Oskar Schindler in the Steven Spielberg movie version of the book was become synonymous with the story depicted in the book, originally called Schindler's Ark, written by Thomas Kennally and published in 1982.
Book Review
Schindler's List/Schindler's Ark (1982)
 by Thomas Kennally

  The book known in America as Schindler's List was first published as Schindler's Ark in the UK, where it was successful, winning the Booker Prize the year of it's release.  Steven Spielberg bought the rights to the book and released the movie, Schindler's List, in 1993, and it quickly became regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, and is in fact the only time I can remember an English language book being renamed after the movie based on that book.  You can not discuss the book without paying homage to the film, which is, I think, better than the still very good book.

  Kennally was a historian, from Australia, and he writes Schindler's List in a kind of fact-based new journalism style that stops just short from inserting the narrator into the action.  The story is clearly based on the recollections of Schindler himself and the testimony of survivors.  The narrator occasionally opines on motives, or will interject when he is relying only on his own instincts about what must have happened.   \

  Some of the aspects of the book that were not conveyed in the film(to my memory) is that Schindler was the first witness to describe the mechanics of the "final solution" to the outside world.  Obviously, the film underplays the grotesque cruelty of the Jewish genocide in Poland, the book stops just short of describing the act of being in the gas chamber itself.  Kennally peppers the book with specific references to technical mechanics of the implementation of the final solution that stand starkly outside any sort of reference in terms of their ability to horrify.  

  For example, an early camp used Carbon Monoxide instead of Zykron B, and the results were too cruel... even for Nazi's, or at least "not efficient" in that it tooks the victims hours to die excruciating deaths.  Oskar Schindler is not a saint, but he is the only human being who used the industrial slave labor of the Jews as a mechanism to save hundreds of Jewish lives, and he did at considerable danger to himself.  Most astonishing that his is the only example of someone saving Jewish lives on such a vast scale.  The absence of other similar stories is perhaps as amazing as the existence of this one.

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