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Sunday, June 28, 2009


Elie Wiesel is one of the great men of our time. His book, Night, influences countless readers of all ages. His other books, fiction and non-fiction touch untold lives with their vivid depictions of human beings caught up in horrific times. Elie Wiesel defines his life’s purpose as witness to one of the world's greatest horrors—the Holocaust. Only through witnessing—keeping the world from forgetting or denying the Holocaust—can he find some peace in his own life. Involving oneself in Wiesel's Memoirs—All Rivers Run to the Sea—is being invited to join his cause—to re-live a life shattered beyond recognition and then slowly and painfully replaced in another form. Then, as Wiesel does, one can contribute to the world and, perhaps, prevent a similar re-occurrence.

Wiesel's memories go back to his childhood in Sighet in the Carpathian Mountains where he was a studious member of an observant Jewish family concerned not with politics but with finding truth in religion and, thereby, finding a relationship with God. Ripped from his family and world by the degenerate Third Reich, he is dragged through the hells of Buchenwald and Auschwitz. He loses his family; he loses much of his faith; he is left with a myriad of unanswered questions. When he emerges as an adolescent, he is an orphan. With neither family nor country, he struggles to find his way in an inhospitable world.

Learning a new language—French—and adapting to a new culture, he is still denied a nationality. Existing with stateless person's papers which brand him as suspicious, he struggles to find surviving members of his family, ways to make a living, to somehow come to new terms with religion. Slowly but surely he discovers his purpose. Slowly and painfully Wiesel does put together a lifeworth living. Well before he became famous, the United States offered him citizenship, an offer he had no wish to refuse. For his contributions to humanity, Elie Wiesel is the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Elie Wiesel's story is heartwarming and heartbreaking. He does not see himself as a hero. He does not see any special talents or character traits that aided his survival. He suggests circumstance and a bit of luck saved him and then helped him find his way. Wiesel’s humility in the face of his many successes is evidence of his greatness.

An old man now, Weisel has not retired from witnessing. This is his mission.

Memoirs All Rivers Run to the Sea may not seem a “vacation read,” but it is. The writing is descriptive and moving. The reader cannot help but be involved with Weisel's experiences or try to imagine the horror, pain, or struggle of being in his situation. When I am so drawn into a book, I have a hard time putting it down. I have an easy time recommending it. Read Weisel's Memoirs—or any of his books for that matter—and be enriched.

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