Martin Small’s breathtaking autobiography, written with assistance from Vic Shayne, follows him from a happy Jewish childhood through the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, and all the way into the modern day.
Peter Altschuler’s performance of this truly moving audiobook is characterized by his level tone and gruff but comforting voice, the perfect lens through which to experience Small’s rich and deeply affecting memories. This audiobook is made especially interesting as a memoir by Small’s choice to focus as much on life in the shtetl and in New York after World War II as he does on the grim realities of the Holocaust, suggesting that we would do well to remember the good alongside the bad, always.
Remember Us is a look back at the lost world of the shtetl: a wise Zayde offering prophetic and profound words to his grandson, the rich experience of Shabbos, and the treasure of a loving family. All this is torn apart with the arrival of the Holocaust, beginning a crucible fraught with twists and turns so unpredictable and surprising that they defy any attempt to find reason within them. From work camps to the partisans of the Nowogrudek forests, from the Mauthausen concentration camp to life as a displaced person in Italy, and from fighting the Egyptian army in a tiny Israeli kibbutz in 1948 to starting a new life in a new world in New York, this book encompasses the mythical "hero's journey" in very real historical events. Through the eyes of 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Martin Small, we learn that these priceless memories that are too painful to remember are also too painful to forget.
©2009 Vic Shayne (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
With all due respect to Martin Small for sharing his experience, I didn't think this was as good or meaningful as other halocaust memoirs I've read. I stopped listening in the audiobook's 19th chapter. First, I didn't enjoy the narrator. To me, his reading seemed forced and artificial; the expressiveness in the voice didn't sound genuine to me. Second, the incident when he looks in the window of the cottage behind the Nazi officer's house—it was just too disturbing. I can handle accounts of senseless Nazi brutality, but please offer some insight or at least enough information to allow the reader to draw some conclusions. I was left with so many unanswered questions, that I really didn't want to continue with the book as if nothing of significance had happened. An incident of that magnitude needs further clarification, in my opinion.
The part of the book I enjoyed was the description of daily life in the shtetl.
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