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Guarded By Angels: How My Father And Uncle Survived Hitler And Cheated Stalin Paperback – March 30, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yad Vashem (March 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976073919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976073918
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've been a journalist for 32 years, having lived in Israel, Britain, Sweden, Romania and the United States. I've flown with the Secretary of State and on Air Force One, gone jogging with George W. Bush, witnessed wars, terrorism and natural disasters.
I helped build a memorial in a Nazi extermination camp, helped expose the Rwandan genocide and wrote a Holocaust memoir.
I love literature, movies and music. I like to hear from fellow readers.

Customer Reviews

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The narrative is lean which only serves to enhance the amazing story he tells.
Avi Linden
This is a gripping and very moving real-life story with wonderful lead characters who reveal the incredible resourcefulness and resilience of the human spirit.
A reader from London
Everyone needs to read this book and take inspiration from it, especially the younger generations who cannot quite believe that this could be "real".
David R. Webber

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Neiman on April 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is truly wonderful. I was moved to tears by the end and read it cover to cover without pause because it was so engaging. It tells a story of World War II that I had never heard and gives an interesting picture of the Eastern front. Countries and cities were pitched back and forth between Russia and Germany, and through this madness we learn of the amazing survival instincts of two brothers. This book will grip you within the first 10 pages, just before the war began, and you will not want to put it down until you know how it and the war ends for the characters.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Avi Linden on June 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
In writing the story of his father, uncle and their cousin during the Second World War, Elsner brings a graphic yet immensely personal dimension to this tragic period of world and Jewish history. The narrative is lean which only serves to enhance the amazing story he tells. I would imagine that most readers like me, will devour this book in one sitting. The story it tells, of three young men being tossed by the diabolic caprices of two of the most evil regimes known to man, was the story of millions during this period. Most of them did not have the "troop of guardian angels" looking after them and perished like just so much excess baggage of humanity.

This book should become a basic educational text along with "Darkness at Noon", "1984" and "Animal Farm". Those immortal works of fiction depict the environment of totalitarian evil. Elsner's book is a true story of those who, by chance, time and time again, were saved and saved themselves. Its value is both in its form, as a well written book by a professional, and in content as a testament of those who went through the valley of the shadow of death and survived to tell the tale. Future generations must learn what was done in the name of ideologies which belittled the basic human need to be different.

Finally, the book demonstrates again the truth of the saying that while the Jews were not the only victims of Hitler, the Nazis and all their myriad helpers, all the Jews were targets and easy ones too. For Jews, my enemy's enemy was not necessarily my friend, but quite often my enemy too.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gary Berman on April 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Reading this book was an amazing experience. Not only did I get to live through the harrowing, freightening, funny, sad, romantic, miserable, lives of two brothers and a cousin during WWW II; but I also learned what life in many parts of the USSR during WW II for strangers and natives was like. This is a story everyone young and old should read for the history as well as a picture of what the human mind, body, and spirit can endure. These were normal guys who could be super heros. I can't wait for the movie!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By That Poet on May 21, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was deeply affected by this incredible portrait of the brothers Elsner and their tale of courage and survival as Jews during the dark years of Nazi power. I stayed up until the wee hours to finish this book, as I'd moved with Gene and Mark Elsner through harrowing and dramatic events and I needed to know their fate. Well-written, this is a gripping and ultimately inspiring ode to the triumph of the human spirit.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A reader from London on June 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was drawn into this book right from its powerful opening lines. This is a gripping and very moving real-life story with wonderful lead characters who reveal the incredible resourcefulness and resilience of the human spirit. Very highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
In May, 2002, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Holocaust Survivor's Memorial Project an organization under the auspices of Yad Vashem in Israel, issued a press release announcing that they would publish a series of ten memoirs of Holocaust survivors. The Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Museum explained: "there is no substitute for authentic testimony -- the voices of the Holocaust -- the survivors themselves." Among the volumes selected for publication was "Guarded by Angels: How my Father and Uncle Survived Hitler and Cheated Stalin" by Alan Elsner in which, as the May, 2002 press release indicated "Elsner recounts the Holocaust-era experiences of his father and uncle, both under the Nazi and Soviet occupation of Poland, in the Soviet gulag, in the Central Asian Caucuses, and in the Red Army." A journalist for Reuters News Service, Elsner has written several novels and works of nonfiction together with this memoir.

Elsner's book is an account of the wartime experiences of two brothers, Gene Elsner, his younger brother Mark, and their friend and cousin Henek Klafter who lived until adolescence in the town of Nowy Satz, Poland. With the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, the three young men began a long series of travels and death-defying adventures in the face of prosecution from both the Soviets and the Nazis. Alan Elsner is the son of Gene. Elsner's grandparents remained in Nowy Satz and ultimately were killed by the Nazis in the concentration camp at Belzec.

The book opens with the author's seemily paradoxical statement: "My father was killed on my birthday". In spite of this beginning personal reference, a striking feature of the account is the narrative distance that the author maintains throughout most of the book.
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