The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Helen Epstein travelled from America to Europe to Israel, searching for people with one vital thing in common: their parents' persecution by the Nazis. Epstein interviewed hundreds of men and women coping with an extraordinary legacy. In each, she found shades of herself.
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(200mm x 129mm x 22mm)
Penguin Putnam Inc
Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc
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US Kirkus Review »
"For years it lay in an iron box." "It" - her parents' concentration camp experience - haunted Helen Epstein so much that she had to see if others shared her peculiar dis-ease. Although she reaches few definite conclusions, and although the comments of the dozen-plus people she interviewed occasionally stray, her questioning attitude still makes this volume - part-memoir, part-psychological analysis - a start, at least, toward understanding this shared heritage. For Sara, an Israeli teacher married to an American, "it" meant a family life of tension and isolation - "We never sat down at a table together, we never ate together" - while for Rochelle, a young Canadian, the emphasis on a happy family became its own burden, the children having to "make up for everything that had happened." There's a burden as well for Eli who undertakes a pilgrimage to his mother's house in Hungary only to fund the villagers suspicious - afraid he wants to repossess property "which had long been nationalized anyway." Most striking of the group is a Southern beauty queen who for her contest entry played Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude," the composition that the Polish radio broadcast continuously during Hitler's invasion. It is really Epstein's involvement, however, that carries the book (dispassion would have been grossly out of place), her own remembrances underscoring her conclusion that, for all the variation, the children resemble the parents: resistance fighters' offspring demonstrate "a pride and strength", survivors who had sealed off the past raise children who construct their own walls. Epstein now sees the need for a community of these survivors' children: her book may help bring it about. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Helen Epstein
Helen Epstein is the author of four previous books, including Children Of The Holocaust, Joe Papp: An American Life, and Music Talks, and her articles have been featured in The New York Times, the Miami Herald, and many Judaica periodicals. She is an affiliate of Harvard University's Center for European Studies.