on June 11, 1997
Too often, we are led to believe that no one can make a difference, that evil is too strong, and it's better just to go along, or to maybe do the best WE can and ignore the struggles of others. What "Schindler's List" shows is that one person can make a difference in the face of overwhelming odds.
Unlike Corrie Ten Boom or Raoul Wallenberg, we are shown that Oskar Schindler started out with no moral underpinnings to make him able to stand with courage against the Nazis. He was a would-be war profiteer, plain and simple -- a man out for a mark, who would get in and get out when it suited him.
Keneally takes you inside Schindler with a remarkable deftness, showing the truly amazing growth that made Schindler able to turn from making money to spending it to save more than a thousand lives -- as Spielberg showed at the end of the moving movie he made from this book, Schindler's survivors and their descendants outnumber the Jews remaining in Poland.
The Jewish people believe that no matter how strong the oppressor, "God always leaves a remnant." Although this book does not do so, it is interesting to consider Schindler as an agent of God in this -- during the war, he made millions of marks, yet after, he hardly had two pfennigs to rub together. After he saved their lives, the "Schindlerjuden" took care of him for the remainder of his
on January 2, 2003
The book Schindler's List is one of the best Holocaust books I have ever read. It gives you real life accounts of prisoners from multiple concentration camps, from guards, and from others who knew Oskar Schindler about what actually took place during all the terror and evil of the time. In this book you can actually feel the terror and fear mothers had for their children. You can hear the cries of the children as their mothers are pulled away from them by Nazi guards. And you can see the sliver of hope offered by this stranger who is setting up a sub camp and wants you to be a resident of it.
This book is the true story put together by Thomas Keneally based on accounts of the Schindlerjuden, or Schindler's Jews. This man knows the fate of the millions of Jews in Europe. Like other factory owners, Schindler has many Jews who work for him in his factory. After a series of events Oskar Schindler builds his own camp for his workers to stay in. There he provides them with the more food and comfort than any other camp in Europe. He begins to build friendships with his "prisoners", and after the war is looked down upon for his acts of bravery and courage. His homeland becomes his enemy and Israel honors Schindler's actions in many ways.
While this book does get hard to understand at times, it is an excellent book that really blows you away with the actual stories of people who experienced such evil no one should ever have to go through. And through the tough times of Germany shines the hope of one man who was able to save more than 1,000 lives during this reign of terror.
(P.S. Scott says "Squids are our friends! And turtles will rule the earth in 100 million years. Please don't hurt Cindi's grade just because I'm insane.")
on October 1, 2000
"Oskar had done nothing astounding before the war and been unexceptional since. He was fortunate, therefore, that in that short fierce era between 1939 and 1945 he had met people who summoned forth his deeper talents." -comment by Emilie Schindler to a German TV documentary crew
This, of course, is the essential mystery of Oskar Schindler. How was it that this charismatic but morally ambiguous man, a failure in every other endeavor he ever engaged in, was both willing and able to save over a thousand Jews from Nazi predation? And, if someone like him was willing and able, why were other, arguably "better", Germans unwilling or unable to do the same?
These are the questions that Thomas Keneally's raises, but, despite the use of fictional techniques to tell the story, Keneally does not seek to answer them. Instead, he lays out the facts of the story (in thrilling fashion) and leaves the reader to search for answers. The result is an immensely human and interesting portrait of an enigmatic hero--infinitely more interesting than the simplistic black and white ubermensch of Spielberg's vapid movie.
Perhaps the greatest import of the book is that resistance was possible, even in Nazi Germany. In the face of this fact, those Germans who went along with the Nazis must be judged even more harshly. This book and Jonah Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners combine to make a powerful case for the view that the Final Solution was perpetrated by the German Nation as a whole and that most Germans were willing to see it happen. More than that, they raise the question of whether it is appropriate to consider the citizenry of totalitarian states to be merely innocent victims of the regimes, or whether we need to hold every citizen responsible for even the silent capitulation that enables a reign of terror to continue.
I know that Spielberg has made a big deal out of making his movie available to schools and young people; it would be much better to give them copies of this book. That a man like Oskar Schindler necessarily seems so remarkable to us, should be troubling to every person of conscience. This book forces us to look within and ask ourselves whether we too would have done the right thing. The answer is not as starkly clear as Hollywood would have us think.
on September 24, 2001
This is one of those books that really came off better in the movie than the actual book it was based on. Nonetheless, Keneally has clearly researched this issue with passion and a desire to tell the real story as a result of his interviews with the people involved. He brings out the agonizing ambiguity of the man, Oscar Schindler, a man who can play his dangerous game of saving "his" Jews from the horrors that hang over their heads.
The book is told by using several vignette's of the legend of Schindler. As a researcher, Keneally is honest in admitting in part where some of the stories may be overblown or even not true, but that they carry with them the essence of this remarkable man, a man who was so devoted to the Schindlerjuden at the expense of his relationship with is wife.
Writing in such a way is interesting in bringing all the disparate parts together. Unfortunately, it also seems disjointed and hard to follow at times. Even so, reading it is not easy. Finding out the truth of the Holocaust is paramount to understanding the evil that men can do, but also the lengths to which some can go to fight that evil.
Read and Enjoy!
on December 30, 2002
Schindler's List, by Thomas Keneally, while extraordinarily accurate on the events of World War 2, was not a very captivating story. It's about a man, Oskar Schindler, who starts off as a first class industrialist who recruits Jewish workers to work in his labor camp. Oskar, who had many important contacts in the military and government, was able to supply his Jewish workers with more food, clothing, and better living conditions that any of the camps that had been established for the Jews in World War 2. In other words, if you worked for Schindler, you were in paradise. As the mass murders of the Jews in the concentration camps began, and Schindler's labor camp was moved from Moravia to Brinnlitz, Schindler became obsessed with the welfare of the Jews. He concocted a list of 1000+ Jewish prisoners from concentration camps to go and "work" in his labor camp in Brinnlitz, though they didn't do much working. Finally, after a long, hard battle, the Schindler and imprisoned Jews were liberated.
The plot of the story was itself amazing, but the way it was written wasn't as extraordinary. Thomas Keneally used many German words in his writing that made it hard to understand what he was talking about. Also, at some points of the story, he would be telling them very well but then would stray from the subject. It is very easy to get confused while reading this book. He would sometimes go into far too much detail, making the story too much for what it should have been. The structuring of the sentences was also quite extravagant, sometimes too extravagant to understand. So in conclusion, the book Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally was a very good story, but simply not very well written.
on February 4, 2001
Keneally's approach to recreating history in "Schindler's List" is an intelligent and responsible one: he labels his representation exactly what it is, a fiction. (Contrast this with Spielberg's pseudo-documentarian methods, which seem to want to claim some sort of absolute historical authority, in the film of the same name.) Despite a wealth of historical minutiae culled from research and interviews with surviving "Schindler Jews," Keneally is fully aware that his novel treads troubled and troubling ground; correspondingly, he is careful to alert his reader to the fact that he cannot faithfully reproduce human reality but will, rather, make every effort to get his story close.
Constructed like a well-plotted novel, "Schindler's List" sees Keneally's narrative powers at their finest. His characters are full-bodied and believable, each with their own often very private motivations for their very public actions. Keneally speculates on such motivations or contexts but does not pass judgment easily. Most importantly, there is little of the handy black-and-white demonization of the Nazis that the film mobilizes to great rhetorical effect; while Spielberg's version forces one to take the uncomplicated side of Schindler and thus believe that he or she too would have done the right thing just like Oskar, Keneally allows a much more unsettling thought to percolate, one that is probably truer to life in insisting that, were we in the Nazis' shoes, we sadly and mistakenly would likely have done exactly what they did. Keneally's Schindler stands out as a much more complex aberration of a very human (no matter how monstrous their actions) group of people.
I feel a little bad for having simply pitted book against movie as one so often does, but I have done so out of deference to the depressing likelihood that Keneally's book will forever be overshadowed by and tethered to the Spielberg ball and chain. I have read that Spielberg's film is required viewing in many high schools. Sad that Keneally's book isn't required reading. Absent the triumphalism of the film, it stands as a sobering reminder that people can do terrible things, and that not all heroes are saints.
on January 23, 2000
This is Thomas Keneally at his best. The chance meeting with a Schindler Jew in a Los Angeles shop made a book, then a movie, then a global project to catalogue the stories of Holocaust survivors. It took Spielberg and Hollywood to bring the story to the screen but it was Keneally and his evocative text on the life of Oskar Schindler that bought the story to the world. His choice to use the texture of a novel works well. As the author said himself, this seemed the best way to handle a character with the ambiguity and magnitude of that celebrated Sudeten charmer.
But a novelist's approach also makes it easier to convey meaning, to explore and probe every shadow, each emotion, any nuance. Keneally's gift is to do this well. The highlight of the book is his brilliant study of Oskar and Amon, good with bad, the German bon vivant versus the Dark Prince. Like two heads of the same coin, Keneally shows nobility and evil as uncomfortably close bedfellows. There go I but the grace of God...
Keneally has a well-deserved reputation as one of Australia's greatest writers, but the forces this book has set in train, perhaps, have not been fully acknowledged. Fortunately, for a select group of southern Polish Jews in World War II, a saviour was in their midst. Fortunately, for those that followed, there was a writer who saved the saviour's story for us all.
on April 29, 2003
This is the story about Oscar Schindler, a German, who had a factory with Jewish slave workers in Poland during the 2nd World War. Schindler is corrupt, a heavy drinker and loves women. A powerful and provoking book about Holocaust and the Nazism. But Schindler wasn't a Nazi, and most of the Jews, that worked for him, survived Hitler. Over 6 million Jews were killed, mostly in concentration camps, and Schindler stands as a symbol to those who survived because of him. He managed to do justice when no one else seemed to care.
This story was set in the early 1900's in Germany when Hitler was still in power and killing off the Jews.
The genre of this book I think is historical non-fiction.
The author of this book did a good job with dramatic scenes in this book and also the details and such in this book.
Schindler's list does a very good job at the descriptions in the book and they did a good job with the problem. The problem was that Schindler was trying to protect his men from Hitler because they were Jewish.
I would suggest this book to a audience who like historical novels and people who really love exciting interesting books.
This book reminds me of a lot of other books in the over all picture about discrimination and the fight to survive. The book it reminds of the most and that I would recommend if you liked this book is a One Day in the Life of Ivan Densavich.
The author in this book used a lot of metaphors and language and synonyms that I really didn't understand, but form what I understood I liked.
This book was very tough to read and I recommend reading it over a long period of time and in short intervals each time you read.
Schindler's List brought me to the edge of my seat every time I picked it up and it was hard for me to put it down when I started. The only reason that I would is because of lack of understanding but don't let that scare you from reading this book because it is a compelling and great story.
on August 16, 2003
Schindler's List, originally published as Schindler's Ark, is the true story of how Oskar Schindler, an aristocratic German industrialist, heavy drinker, briber, and womaniser, was transformed into a saviour during the horrors of World War II. His remarkable rescue of more than a thousand Jews is retold brilliantly in this honest and detailed account by Thomas Keneally.
The story is set in Poland, where Schindler struggled to protect his Jewish factory employees from the cruel and terrible claws of the extermination camps. Schindler's efforts in saving souls increased as the war worsened, and climaxed with Schindler's List, the book of life and ticket to freedom for many Jewish survivors, whose accounts are carefully retold in this book.
Although Keneally's long and descriptive sentences require patient concentration, and could become a stumbling block for some readers, once overcome, no reader could fail to be drawn into the action-packed plot. For Keneally summons terror and disgust with his gruesome profiles of the SS Gestapo, and draws smiles and smirks with his descriptions of Schindler's devious dealings with them.
In Keneally's book, metaphors and similes vividly contrast the characters and scenery, omitting no details, and succeed in taking the reader to a different time and place. Although a biography, and therefore brimming with names, dates, and numbers, Keneally manages to navigate history so that no event is left without significance.
Schindler's List is a riveting read which no one should miss out on, as not only is it an exciting story, it also gives an accurate glance into the labour camps of World War II, and takes a look at the darker side of humanity. A Booker Prize-winning novel, now also an Oscar-winning movie, Schindler's List is a must for anyone over 15.
on September 7, 2000
Okay. I watched the film, and it is clearly superior, for obvious reasons, to the book. Keneally is a good writer- but I was a bit bemused by the back jacket photograph of him wearing a big grin and a cowboy hat, given the nature of the book.
You learn a few things about Oskar Schindler here, which help you appreciate the film.
First, he had been a race car driver as a young man...
2. Schindler was a member of Admiral Canaris' Abwehr, the German Secret Service: the Nazi counterpart to the CIA. So, his "powerful friends" weren't just shmoozed SS officers; the German Secret Service also was looking out for him. Unlike the thugs of the Gestapo and the atheistic racists of the SS, the Abwehr was typically composed of level-headed, educated, well-connected gentlemen. And it was no friend of either the Gestapo or the SS. So Schindler's protection was doubly redundant. (And there was his friend General Schindler- no relative - but imagine the namedropping!)
3. He apparently decided early on to assist his workers, making trips secretly to Hungary and Turkey to make foreign powers aware.
4. He was arrested by the Gestapo three times, and each time it was more of a close call. The film shows the 2nd arrest, but the book indicates the incarcerated soldier sharing Schindler's cell was an SS man. In the film I believe he's wearing an Army uniform. And the off-color joke was real, (as was the little girl in the red jacket).
5. After the war, Oskar lived in South America, but eventually abandoned his wife there, (living off the charity of the former Schindler Jews, who took great pains to care for him). I wondered why the film's conclusion made the rather hard pronouncement that he "failed" at his marriage. Abandonment would certainly qualify.
6. Schindler suffered ostracism in Germany after the war once his heroism became known, but eventually was recognized and awarded civil commendations. And...he was always haunted by the feeling that he "could have done more".
I would hope he can rest in peace...