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on September 25, 2000
In Elie Wiesel's beautiful book, Memoirs: All Rivers Run to the Sea, he again accomplishes what he has accomplished most perfectly in all of his previous works--translating the personal into the universal. Wiesel is also a master storyteller and he does his job flawlessly in this poignant and unforgettable book, relating his memoirs in a frame, both beginning and ending All Rivers Run to the Sea with a dream.
He beings with a dream about his father, and the haunting words, "Last night I saw my father in a dream." Of course, this is no ordinary dream, but a dream that reveals volumes about Wiesel's life and its ever-present themes. Imprisoned at both Buchenwald and Auschwitz, Wiesel, who shared the darkest moments of his life with his father, saw the man he never really knew die of starvation and dysentery, while his mother and youngest sister, the beautiful little Tzipora, were murdered in the ovens of Auschwitz.
In the second dream, Wiesel brings his memoirs to a close as he describes his joyous wedding day in the Old City of Jerusalem. Although a happy groom, Wiesel is by no means a traditional one. Retreating into a silent reverie, he tries somehow to include his parents and baby sister in the wedding festivities, thus rounding out the family circle he loved so much.
Between these two sad and haunting dreams, Wiesel, who often employs frames in relating a tale, tells us the story of the early years of his life.
Born in Sighet, Romania on 30 September 1928 to Shlomo and Sarah Feig Wiesel, Elie Wiesel lived the early years of his life happily, in the center of Jewish culture. Although his family was quite traditional, it was in Sighet that Wiesel began experimenting with more mystical lines of thought. Possessed with a passion for learning, he studied both Hebrew and Yiddish as well as delving into the ancient texts of the Jewish faith.
It was on 19 March 1944 that this idyllic boyhood with an intensely spiritual family came to an abrupt end. An unspeakable darkness fell upon Sighet's entire Jewish community as all of the nearly 15,000 residents were arrested and deported to Auschwitz, Poland.
Wiesel is chilling as he relates the horror and uncertainty of traveling in the cattle cars, of the painful separation of loving families and the violation and exploitation of human beings by...other human beings.
It was only after the liberation of the camps in 1945, that Wiesel discovered that his two older sisters, Hilda and Batya had survived. Although overjoyed at their reunion, the loss of his younger sister is something so painful, so beyond Wiesel's imagination, that even today, he cannot speak of it.
For a full ten years, Wiesel remained silent regarding his experiences in the death camps, wondering why he had survived while so many others had perished. He said, "In those years, it was very difficult to talk about the subject. I grew up in a mystical atmosphere, believing in silence, so I tried to use what I learned to purify the words, to purify language."
Relocated to France, Wiesel studied at the Sorbonne where he learned French, philosophy, literature and psychology while working at a variety of odd jobs. Eventually, he chose journalism as his career and he tells of his travels to Jerusalem, New York and many other places.
Although a dark and somber book, All Rivers Run to the Sea is not without its lighter moments. One of these occurs in New York after Wiesel was struck by a taxi, hospitalized and cornered by a somewhat overly-zealous attorney. As Wiesel lay in the hospital, immobilized, his French travel documents expired and he became a United States citizen.
Although it is Wiesel's own father who haunts his sleeping dreams, it is another Being who troubles his waking thoughts, a Being Weisel, through the teachings of his faith, calls God.
Evident in the quote taken from Ecclesiastes Wiesel chose as the subtitle of his memoirs, is the question that haunts his daily life: How could God, during the Holocaust, remain silent and watch the senseless death of six million human beings? Human beings, He, Himself, created?
Although Wiesel's observations have been brilliant, he has, by his own admission, failed to reach an answer. Like the Hebrew sage who wrote Ecclesiastes, Wiesel observes that, "All rivers run to the sea, yet the sea is never full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again."
Like the author of Ecclesiastes, Wiesel, in this book, makes a wide investigation of life, leading the reader from the happiness of his boyhood to the misery of his youth to the honors of his mature life (including the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize). And, like the author of Ecclesiastes, Wiesel finds no satisfying answer. For him, the joys of life are forever tinged with sadness; the specter of death is never far away.
In All Rivers Run to the Sea, Elie Wiesel makes full use of the piety and wisdom of Hasidism and his memoirs read like a novel of the highest order. Intended for those who have made, or want to make, their own investigation of life and its mysteries, most especially that of humanity's incomprehensible inhumanity, this is a superb tale of unvarnished truthfulness, humility and awareness.
Wiesel, in beautiful language that mingles sadness and joy, horror and triumph, writes for those of us who dare to look into the darkest moments of life, searching for a little light, a ray of the faintest hope. He writes, not so we know, but that we may hunger for more.
An incredible human being whose tragedy became the impetus for a life filled with the profoundest meaning, Wiesel, like Martin Buber before him, is ready to "hurtle down deep pathways, wander through invisible cemeteries, both seeking and fleeing solitude and receiving stories already told and those...yet to be told."
All Rivers Run to the Sea is more than just a supremely important book; it is one of the most important books in the literature of humankind.
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on May 8, 2000
I liked this book, but not for most of the reasons I read in other people's reviews. I believe they have overvalued it because of what the author has undergone, because he's written other, more stunning books, and because Wiesel is almost a monument in himself.
Having heard of his Holocaust speeches and read his famous early concentration camp account, _Night_, I was unprepared for the naivete and gentle self-mockery that pervade this book. Yes, it talks about his roots, his tussles with religion, his adventures and misadventures as a journalist and friend/antagonist of the great.
But what a surprise to see his repeated references to all the pretty faces that caught his eye and how badly he usually fared in approaching them: "I indulged in some serious flirting, by which I mean that I talked to them of things too serious to achieve the desired result." "I thought about all the girls in Versailles and all the unknown women in trains who didn't know how much I loved them, and about all the sins I lacked the courage to commit." "I knew if I lowered my guard I would be hit by one of those thunderbolts I never knew how to handle. So of course I lowered my guard." "I spoke to her of destiny, and of Dante for good measure. She told me not to be a fool."
It may strike some readers almost as monotonous, but I found Wiesel's willingness to speak of things all men experience, yet never include in their autobiographies, refreshing. The other reviews stress the IMPORTANCE, almost PONDEROUSNESS, of this book, yet that's not what I'm left with at all. Wiesel is also amazingly open and childlike. For instance, recovering from injuries suffered in a massive car accident, he writes:
"Confined to bed and condemned to immobility, one dreams, one thinks about and sees the world in a whole new way. A simple painkiller is worth more than a dozen wondrous poems. I was more grateful to the nurse who came to turn me onto my back or stomach than I would have been to the most ravishing of creatures granting me her all. The most astonishing world news affected me less than the doctor's smile."
This book shows the very human side of a "mere" journalist who in his time has become almost an institution.
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on November 6, 1998
How many people in this world, as they go about living out their lives, will ever come to an understanding of the human cost that was exacted in the Holocaust? Sure, there will always be the auto-pilot responses in which people quote the six-million figure while shaking their heads, but often their knowledge does not go beyond this point. In the pages of "All Rivers Run to the Sea," Elie Wiesel is willing to lay bare his soul in order to create understanding as a living, yet still wounded, witness of the Holocaust. Without this premise, perhaps this would be just another autobiography of a globe-trotting journalist, and the intrigue of international diplomacy. But it is much, much more than that. Indirectly, Wiesel shows himself as a man who is never able to be completely happy, completely alive...completely whole. When the Jewish people in his village were rounded up, shipped off, imprisoned, starved, and killed, a part of himself dies as well. Thus, there are constant flashbacks in the book to his parents who did not survive. As Elie experiences the events of life, and the decades pass on, the reality of what occurred to his family and so many others haunts his dreams and his writings. By and by, the reader is able to see that the human cost of the Holocaust is as close as their own mother and father. This is the subtle power of these memoirs.
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on July 9, 1999
I received this book as a gift from my father a few years ago. I've just recently graduated from high school and found the time to read this book. I have always been interested in the atrocities of the holocaust, myself being Jewish; and after reading Wiesel's "Night" I've wanted to know more. I am reading Wiesel's memoirs right now and I can't say how much he is inspiring me to follow whims and dreams that I might have. I have a friend who is attending Boston University, and will have Prof. Wiesel for a Humanities professor. I have been so touched by Wiesel's words that I am forcing my friend to allow me to sit in on one of his classes. I will do anything just to meet, or even see the man who has suffered and survived so much.
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on November 15, 2004
I found this a very compelling read, lasting over several readings. It's true the author did not stick tightly to chronological order, but anyone who has read his fiction knows his style tends to be very esoteric and rather free-floating (I personally do not care for his fiction, which I admit I do find to go over my head). However, as a reader, I certainly got a feel for emotions he felt throughout different experiences in his life. I found the last scene describing his emotions before and during his wedding to be really profound. It's true that there is a lot of Jewish content in this book, which may cause some of his analogies etc. to be less accessible to someone from a different background. However, for someone who wants to read a first-hand Holocaust experience without very strong graphic details, I do recommend it. (As a side note, just last week I actually attended a speech by Mr. Wiesel, and he is really a personable, funny, self-effacing and sweet man, not the really sad and somber person you might expect from his writings. I was surprised by this, pleasantly so!)
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VINE VOICEon October 16, 2000
Usually, I do not read much in the biography/autobiorgaphy category, but M. Wiesel's work is excellent. In surviving horrors which still have no words, he has also been present & known some of the most interesting figures of the latter 20th century. I appreciate that M. Wiesel continues to question himself and motivations throughout his life. His thoughts on writing and the use of space/silence is wonderful to include within the memoirs-- especially as a companion to a first-time reader of his other works.
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HALL OF FAMEon October 25, 2004
I would strongly recommend that all readers on Amazon read the review whose title caption is ' Remember'. It is far more extensive and far better than the small remarks I am about to post.

Elie Weisel is the one human being who more than any other has helped the world understand the horror of the Shoah , the Holocaust the Nazi destruction of one - third of the Jewish people six million human beings.

For this he should always have a place in the historical consciousness of both the Jewish people and mankind.

His memoir is at times very moving .For those who know his other work and his masterpiece ' Night' there will be much familiar here, though here the story is enriched by greater detail.

I find myself whenever I am reading Weisel unable to really judge in abstract or purely literary terms. His significance as a human being, as a witness as one who has spoken to me in my own life is so great that my feeling is closer to reverence than anything else.

I read this book with the idea that any additional detail about his life and work, any additional understanding of his thought about Man's relation to G-d would be worthwhile. I read this work as I will read all his future works as an admiring student of a great teacher.

May he be blessed by many more years of great creative work.
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on February 29, 2004
I read the book All Rivers Run to the Sea, by Elie Wiesel. This book is about his amazing journey all throughout the Holocaust. Elie was split apart from his family and had to experience the worst pain that you could imagine all on his own. I think this book is very depressing but it also makes you think about how glad and grateful you should be for having a family who loves and cares for you.
Elie Wiesel is a very skilled writer and he easily makes you picture in your mind what he is writing about. I think that this book would be well suited for people who are either twelve or older. It is also well suited for people who enjoy reading about the Holocaust and all the people who experienced it. This book is more of a bibliography rather than a fairy tale so you have to be willing to read a lot. This book is also very long and at some parts it gets a little confusing but at other times it is really hard to put the book down. I do not think that this would be a very good book for teachers to have their students read in class because of the length. I think that they should use one of Wiesel other great books on the Holocaust.
I really enjoyed this book and the style of Elie's writing. He described every thing very well and he kept my attention throughout the whole book. I hope that others get the chance to read this book and learn as much as I did about the Holocaust. This is a very good book and is well suited for young adults and people who are older as well. It teaches you a lot and makes you think about your life. This was a very good book and I hope others will read this book and get as much out of it as I did.
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on April 19, 2004
This is one of the times when I think we should be able to go higher than 5 stars. Elie Wiesel's All Rivers Run to the Sea gave us a more in-depth look to the concentration camp survivor. He really gives us a rich experience in weaving together the threads of his past, from his days in school to the horror in the concentration camps, right up to his days of being a journalist, and ending with him as a groom. You really get a feel for the type of person he is as well - a wonderful, compassionate, and intelligent man. If you've read Night already, you're definitely going to want to check this out.
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VINE VOICEon May 27, 2008
Elie Wiesel may be best known as the author of "Night", his harrowing and sparse account of his time spent in the concentration camps. His literary works have focused around the events that shaped Holocaust survivors and the questions those survivors had about their faith afterwards. His life's work is heavily imbued by those events early in his life, his novels vast testaments to making sure the world never forgets the atrocities man inflicted upon man.

Yet there are many sides to this amazing man, which can often be forgotten when one dwells solely on his literary works. The first volume of Wiesel's memoirs, "All Rivers Run to the Sea", is a brilliant introduction and elucidation of the author. He relates quickly his early childhood and his time in the camps, but moves onto and focuses on his path after those events. As he forges a career as a journalist, meeting statesmen and celebrities, he finds himself and what causes he is willing to fight for. As a stateless person, his life is often difficult as he arouses suspicion, and he struggles constantly to make ends meet. Reading about his personal adventures, the reader sees how he is passionate, full of empathy, timid and captivating, a brilliant man with many stories to tell.

For anyone who has read Wiesel's writings, the style of "All Rivers Run to the Sea" will be just as familiar: while it is divided into sections, his reminiscenses are as tangential as his fictional stories. Learning about his real-life adventures, readers can easily see how Wiesel has woven his experiences into all of his fictional works. The praises and accolades he has received are more than well deserved, for as long as he writes, his people will have a testimony to their past and to their faith.
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