Day 841: Night

Cover for NightHere is my review of my Classics Club spin choice for Spin #11!

Night is Elie Wiesel’s spare and harrowing description of his and his father’s time spent in a series of concentration camps during World War II. He begins his story in 1944, where in the town of Sighet, Transylvania, the war did not seem to have touched the Jewish population. They had heard of problems in Budapest, but they knew nothing of the larger Nazi activities aimed at their people.

The first indications came from Moishe the Beadle, a man with whom Elie has been studying the Kabbalah. As a foreign Jew, Moishe was deported to a work camp. But he came back to tell everyone that all of the deportees were driven to Poland where they were forced to dig trenches and then shot. Moishe was wounded but managed to get away and returned to warn them. No one believed him, however. They naively refused to believe the Germans could behave that way. Elie and his family could have gotten a visa out of the country, even at that late date, but they stayed.

Next, all the Jews were rounded up into two ghettos, and not much longer after that, they were shipped out to Auschwitz. Once the women and girls were separated from the men and boys at the camp, Wiesel never saw his mother or sister again. He was 15 and probably only lived because an inmate told him to say he was 18.

At only 120 pages, this is a short but affecting description of his experiences in the camps. It does not dwell overly much on the horrific conditions, but we understand how terrible it was. The book also deals with Wiesel’s spiritual landscape, as he changed from a devout boy to a man who no longer believes.

This book is not a testament to human fortitude, for Wiesel makes it clear that humans under evil conditions behave badly. Instead, it is an important documentation of a black time in human history.

Related Posts

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

The Book Thief

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10 thoughts on “Day 841: Night

  1. Naomi January 29, 2016 / 3:56 pm

    It hardly makes sense to say that I loved this book, because it’s such a sad story, but I did. I read it a few years ago, though, so the details are kind of fuzzy in my mind – I just remember being riveted to it.

  2. Steph January 30, 2016 / 9:05 pm

    This it’s one of the most compelling books I have read. It feels honest.

    • whatmeread January 31, 2016 / 2:43 pm

      In one way it seemed detached to me, but that may have been because it was so sparely told.

  3. Read Diverse Books January 31, 2016 / 11:07 pm

    I still have not read this book. What is wrong with me!?? I need to put aside a couple of hours, read it, and very likely cry.

    • whatmeread February 1, 2016 / 7:22 am

      For some reason, I found the idea of it intimidating. But it was actually a fairly quick book to read.

  4. cirtnecce February 1, 2016 / 12:18 pm

    This book has been on my TBR list for a very long time. But I was honestly scared to take it up because I was not sure I could stomach the horrific conditions which the Nazi subjected Jews and others ….but your review has given me a clearer insight into what the book entails. Now it is for sure being picked up asap! Excellent Post!

    • whatmeread February 1, 2016 / 12:20 pm

      Oh, good! It is not very graphic about the details.

  5. Carolyn O February 2, 2016 / 12:44 pm

    We read this book in high school; in my town quite a few of my classmates were the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. Such an important book.

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