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Rich Cohen, author of Tough Jews, has written what he calls "a Holocaust story without a concentration camp" about Jewish resistance fighters during World War II. The Avengers: A Jewish War Story describes how three young Jews--Cohen's cousin Ruzka Korczak, her friend Abba Kovner, and Kovner's future wife Vitka Klemperer--created an armed, underground movement behind the German lines in Poland with the goal of sabotaging the Nazis and helping the Russians advance. Cohen reports that Kovner described the group's dilemma this way: "If we act cowardly, we die; if we act courageously, we die. So we might as well act courageously." The group's fighting outlasted the war to exact revenge on the Nazis held in Nuremberg and finally to fight for Israel in the 1948 War for Independence. Researching The Avengers, Cohen spent time with the surviving resistance fighters in Israel and in Eastern Europe. The result is a deeply personal and impassioned defense of a movement that some readers will view with pride and others will condemn as vigilantism. This book, like Tough Jews, is a lively, intelligent, and heartfelt work of Jewish history. --Michael Joseph Gross
As a child visiting an Israeli kibbutz on a family vacation, Cohen met a relative who had survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Israel. Slight and gray-haired, Ruzka looked a lot like Cohen's grandmother, but her stories introduced him to a little-known, remarkable group of Jews: the Avengers, who fought Nazis in the gloomy forests of Eastern Europe and later battled for Israel's independence. As Cohen notes, these "were the kind of people who inspired Joseph Goebbels to write in his diary, 'One sees what the Jews can do when they are armed.'" An ardent Zionist, Ruzka left her home in Poland in 1939, as German troops were occupying the country, and made her way to Vilna, Lithuania, where she hoped to find passage to Palestine. Arrested as an "illegal immigrant" upon her arrival, she was released through the efforts of a Zionist youth group who gave her shelter in their headquarters. There, Ruzka met Vitka Kempner, another young girl on her own, and Abba Kovner, a charismatic young man whose steadfast belief in resistance and canny strategies inspired the Avengers. In period-perfect detail, Cohen portrays scenes of ghetto life in Vilna, the efforts of a Jewish leader who thought he could help his people by collaborating with the Germans and, above all, the riveting story of the Avengers' escape from the ghetto, their acceptance of a renegade German officer who hated his army and their eventual emigration to Palestine. Cohen (Tough Jews: Father, Sons and Gangster Dreams) delivers a compelling story that not only amplifies the accepted version of Jewish experience in the Second World War, but also provides a terrific narrative of courage and tenacity. Photographs. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
I found this book to be very clearly written and it gives, what I think, is the very difficult time the young partisans had in Europe during the time of WWll. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Norman Freedman
Cohen kept this reader captivated . He is an excellent writer. I enjoy books that are narrated without a lot of dialogue . Read morePublished 22 months ago by Theresa
The Avengers follows the life of Abba Kovner and his associates, through the horror of Nazism through attempts at revenge, and to a life in Palestine. Read morePublished on July 14 2004 by je
Cohen's story is brilliant and courageous in the way it forces the Reader to acknowledge their hypocracies with regard to terrorism. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2003
I'm a slower reader. I get bored by a lot of books but this was impossible to put down. Rich Cohen covers the pivotal story of young people confronted with outrageous injustice. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2003 by TLD
I picked this book up after watch "UPRISING" the mini-series. I can't tell you what a compelling and interesting story this is!!! I fell in love with the main characters. Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2002 by Sandra M. Pollack
How do you react to people who see their own impending death?
The people in this book can clearly see their impending doom. Read more
Cohen's story of the Jewish resistance fighters presents a side of the Jews in WWII not often seen. The story chronicles the resistance beginning in Vilna and follows it all the... Read morePublished on Aug. 15 2001
This is an amazing story about an amazing group of people. The story of Abba, Vitka, Ruszka and their comrades opened my eyes to a world that not enough has been written about. Read morePublished on Aug. 13 2001 by "dave in milwaukee"