Hoffman, Eva. Shtetl: the Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.
Reason read: in honor of Hannukah.
Inspired by a documentary Hoffman saw on Frontline, this is the biography of Bransk, a Polish town that no longer exists thanks to the thoroughness of the Nazis under Russian rule. One of the most difficult segments to read was the recounting of young Bransk boys conscripted into the Russian army. They were religiously converted away from their birthright and upon returning home, shunned by their own people.
As an aside, I am afraid of cult figures and the power they can wield over seemingly intelligent people. I was surprised to learn of a man in the 1750s by the name of Jakub Frank who claimed he was the Messiah. He wanted to rule all of Poland and had a strong sexual appetite for young girls and orgies.
Quotes to quote, “I believe that if we are to understand what happened in Poland during the war, we must begin by acknowledging, from within each memory, the terrible complexity of everyone’s circumstances and behavior” (p 6).
Author fact: Hoffman grew up in Cracow, Poland.
Book trivia: Shtetl was written after Hoffman saw a documentary by the same name of Frontline in 1996.
Nancy said: Pearl admires Hoffman’s writing and reads everything she publishes, but for the Challenge I am only reading Shtetl. Pearl would have bought Shtetl for someone exploring Jewish roots.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Polish Up Your Polish” (p 181) and from More Book Lust in the chapter called “A Holiday Shopping List” (p 114).