Monday, January 7, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Beyond Courage by Doreen Rappaport

Nonfiction Monday is a weekly meme in the Kidlitosphere that invites bloggers to read and review a nonfiction book on Monday as a way to promote high-quality nonfiction titles.  Each week, a different blogger "hosts" Nonfiction Monday and provides a roundup of all the posts.  This week Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Hope is the Word.

Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport

All too often, accounts of the Holocaust focus only on the suffering of the Jewish people and the atrocities committed against them.  While it is of utmost importance that everyone know about the horrible things that the Nazis did, it is also imperative that to understand that though frightened for their safety and even their lives, thousands of Jews acted in courageous defiance of the Nazis, and with the help of others sympathetic to their plight, many more thousands were able to escape certain death in the concentration camps.  Beyond Courage chronicles the stories - several never before written - of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.  From ghetto uprisings, to prison camp escapes, to an underground railroad (of sorts) that worked to transport children to freedom, Rappaport details these amazing acts of bravery.

What Hitler and the Nazis did to millions of Jews and other undesirables during the 1930s and 40s - starving, imprisoning, torturing and killing - is one of most disgraceful and disgusting acts in human history.  Many books have been written that chronicle the horrors of the Jewish ghettos and concentration camps.  It is a rare book, however, that chronicles the Nazi resistance led by Jews whose very lives hung in the balance.  For this reason alone, Beyond Courage should be read and discussed in schools and within families.  Fortunately, in addition to serving as a deeply researched chronicle, Rappaport's book is also thoughtfully written and well designed to engage readers.  Instead of covering resistance chronologically or geographically, which may be confusing for readers unfamiliar with the chronology of the Nazis and geography of Europe, the book is divided into five parts based on the "location" of the resistance: relocations (escaping and/or hiding away), ghettos, concentration camps, Nazi occupied areas.  Each part began with an overview that set the stage for understanding what actions the Nazis had taken and how this affected the Jews.  The stories that follow include photographs and diagrams to assist in visualizing the players and the action and are deftly written to maintain suspense.  One unfortunate element of the book's design are the  background images, which were likely amazing, but that were often difficult to discern and thus sometimes distracting.  Luckily, the stories were so well-paced and well-spaced on the page that it was easy to get back on track.  Back matter includes an introduction by the author, extensive acknowledgements, pronunciation guide, important dates, source notes, bibliography, photo credits and index, assuring no lack of careful research and attention to accuracy.  It is a beautiful work of nonfiction that pays fitting tribute to those who dared to defy the Nazis.

Recommended for: all readers middle school and up.  A notable contribution to field of Holocaust research that shouldn't be missed.

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1 comment:

  1. I can use this book, but didn't know about it - thanks for the info!