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A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor | [Caroline Stoessinger, Vaclav Havel (foreword)]

A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor

At 108 years old, the pianist Alice Herz-Sommer is an eyewitness to the entire last century and the first decade of this one. She has seen it all, surviving the Theresienstadt concentration camp, attending the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, and along the way coming into contact with some of the most fascinating historical figures of our time. As a child in Prague, she spent weekends and holidays in the company of Franz Kafka (whom she knew as “Uncle Franz”), and Gustav Mahler, Sigmund Freud, and Rainer Maria Rilke were friendly with her mother.
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Publisher's Summary

A Century of Wisdom is an inspiring story of resilience and the power of optimism - the true story of Alice Herz-Sommer, the world’s oldest living Holocaust survivor.

At 108 years old, the pianist Alice Herz-Sommer is an eyewitness to the entire last century and the first decade of this one. She has seen it all, surviving the Theresienstadt concentration camp, attending the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, and along the way coming into contact with some of the most fascinating historical figures of our time.

As a child in Prague, she spent weekends and holidays in the company of Franz Kafka (whom she knew as “Uncle Franz”), and Gustav Mahler, Sigmund Freud, and Rainer Maria Rilke were friendly with her mother. When Alice moved to Israel after the war, Golda Meir attended her house concerts, as did Arthur Rubinstein, Leonard Bernstein, and Isaac Stern. Today Alice lives in London, where she still practices piano for hours every day.

Despite her imprisonment in Theresienstadt and the murders of her mother, husband, and friends by the Nazis, and much later the premature death of her son, Alice has been victorious in her ability to live a life without bitterness. She credits music as the key to her survival, as well as her ability to acknowledge the humanity in each person, even her enemies.

A Century of Wisdom is the remarkable and inspiring story of one woman’s lifelong determination - in the face of some of the worst evils known to man - to find goodness in life. It is a testament to the bonds of friendship, the power of music, and the importance of leading a life of material simplicity, intellectual curiosity, and never-ending optimism.

©2012 Caroline Stoessinger (P)2012 Random House

What the Critics Say

“I have rarely read a Holocaust survivor’s memoir as enriching and meaningful. Get Caroline Stoessinger’s book, A Century of Wisdom, telling Alice Herz-Sommer’s tale of her struggles and triumphs. You will feel rewarded.” (Elie Wiesel)

A Century of Wisdom is a stately and elegant book about an artist who found deliverance in her passion for music. Caroline Stoessinger writes with a special purity, as though she were arranging pearls on a string of silk.” (Pat Conroy)

“As one of millions who fell in love on YouTube with Alice Herz-Sommer, a 108-year-old Holocaust survivor who plays the piano and greets each day with no hint of bitterness, I’m grateful to Caroline Stoessinger for writing a book that explains this mystery. You will be inspired by the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, who lives to teach us.” (Gloria Steinem)

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