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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping true account of Irena Sendler - the "female Oskar Schindler" - who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

In 1942 one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw Ghetto as a public health specialist. While she was there, she began to understand the fate that awaited the Jewish families who were unable to leave. Soon she reached out to the trapped families, going from door to door and asking them to trust her with their young children. She started smuggling children out of the walled district, convincing her friends and neighbors to hide them. Driven to extreme measures, and with the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena ultimately smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis. She made dangerous trips through the city's sewers, hid children in coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through secret passages in abandoned buildings.

But Irena did something even more astonishing at immense personal risk: She kept a secret list buried in bottles under an old apple tree in a friend's back garden. On it were the names and true identities of these Jewish children, recorded so their families could find them after the war. She could not know that more than 90 percent of their families would perish.

In Irena's Children, Tilar Mazzeo shares the incredible story of this courageous and brave woman who risked her life to save innocent children from the Holocaust - a truly heroic tale of survival, resilience, and redemption.

©2016 Tilar J. Mazzeo (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 10-20-16

Female Schindler

I became interested in learning more about the Warsaw Ghetto after reading Leon Uris’s book “Milo 18”. Mazzeo’s book is non-fiction and is fascinating.

This is a story of World War II, the Warsaw ghetto and the Holocaust. Mazzeo tells the story of the life of Irena Sendlerowa (Sender). The author covers her story from childhood to death but most of the story covers the war years.

In 1939 Irena Sender is a social worker in Warsaw. As the Germans take control they deprive the Polish Jews of everything and then confine 400,000 of them to one area of Warsaw. The Jews are slowly being sent to Treblinka and Auschwitz. Irena, as a social worker, has a pass that allows her to go most anywhere including in and out of the ghetto. She begins smuggling out children with the help of her fellow social workers, medical personnel and the resistance. Many where placed in homes of the Catholic Poles and raised as their own children. She kept a list of the placements in hopes of reuniting families at the end of the war, not realizing most families would perish in the camps. Irena is captured and tortured but never gives away her secrets.

The book is well written and impeccably researched. The author combed through archives and interviews survivors. The story was lost during the Soviet occupation of Poland after the German’s withdrew near the end of WWII. This occupation by the Soviets only created more difficulties in researching the story. Mazzeo tells a magnificent story of courage, resilience and heroism. If you are interested in WWII, you will learn more from this story. I was most impressed by this magnificent story.

Amanda Carlin does a good job narrating the story. Carlin is a stage, film and television actress. She also narrates audiobooks.

32 of 33 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So worth reading...

It took me three starts to get hooked into this non-fiction accounting of Irena Sendler's rescue of over 2,500 Jewish children in Warsaw during the Holocaust. Unlike "Schindler's List" which hooks you at the slippery doorstep and continues polished to the end... there is a roughness around the edges of this book and the writing isn't perfect throughout. But the story...

Do not stop reading... you will note that despite this initial failure to get me hooked, I rank this book a full 5 stars and I was hooked. Getting to see Irena's pluck and courage... the actual story of what was accomplished by her gutsy young friends... makes it a 5 star read. More than any Holocaust book I have read, "Irena's Children" took me inside the Warsaw ghetto and the safe homes on the streets outside and helped me to understand their complexities. No book on this topic is an easy read emotionally, but I did come away uplifted in a way. The difference one determined person can make... can change the world.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Daryl
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 10-23-16

Compulsively Readable

I love reading about the courage it took to not only survive WWII, but to rescue others. Irena's Children is a compulsively readable chronicle of one woman rescuing 2500 children from deportation and execution by the Nazis.
She would not want to be called "brave", so I won't do that here either.
The writing and narration of this book is a little unpolished, a little rough around the edges, but extremely accessible. I found myself reading whenever I could.
Well worth your time, money or credit.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Inspiring and Heartbreaking

LOVED this book...could not wait to listen to each chapter. It was a great testimonial to this amazing woman and her brave friends. The narration was perfect.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

Very interesting information, but it sounds like a textbook. It is seriously an entire book of fact after fact. Granted, if you are into the holocaust genre, they are interesting and even miraculous facts. But the same information could have been written as an actual story from Irena's point of view and it would have been way easier to listen to.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing

I've "read" the story of Irena Sendler before when reading Life in a Jar, but this book gives so much more background information and details regarding the various other people who worked with her.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible

Incredible story. Heartbreaking and full of courage to live life for others who have no voice.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • john
  • ROGERSVILLE, MO, United States
  • 01-01-17

Amazing story

This is a story everyone needs to hear, unimaginable courage in the face of unspeakable cruelty.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This was such a sad story but so well done.

I am still shocked that people got away with this kind of abuse and murder. it has been years and years, but every time I hear another account I am still shocked.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • T
  • 01-10-17

Unforgettable

True story of people who risked their lives to save others. The narration is excellent.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful