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Hostage Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 21, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1St Edition edition (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307599582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307599582
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #631,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Wiesel takes us on a journey through dream, memory, and especially storytelling in Hostage . . . He continues to remind us of the brilliant possibilities of the philosophical and political novel.”
                -Starred review, Kirkus
“[Wiesel’s] terse first-person, present-tense narrative will hold readers . . . With the intense contemporary action, the prisoner’s memories also bring close the sweep of Jewish history, including persecution and survival . . . Sure to spark discussion about Middle Eastern history and politics.”
“Wiesel takes us into the heart of the [hostage’s] experience: How do we survive in a universe where all logic, all reason, has been stripped away and we are at the mercy of chaotic forces? What is the effect on our humanity?”
-David L. Ulin, Chicago Tribune
“The strength of Hostage is Wiesel’s exploration of the psychology of being a hostage, as well as the complex nature of memory and its role in our lives . . . Fans of Wiesel’s strong prose who are looking forward to a return to familiar themes will be gratified.”
-Library Journal

About the Author

Elie Wiesel is the author of more than fifty books, both fiction and nonfiction. He is a recipient of the United States Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the French Legion of Honor’s Grand-Croix, an honorary knighthood of the British Empire and, in 1986, the Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1976, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University. 

More About the Author

Elie Wiesel is the author of more than forty books, including his unforgettable international best sellers Night and A Beggar in Jerusalem, winner of the Prix Médicis. He has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States Congressional Gold Medal, and the French Legion of Honor with the rank of Grand Cross. In 1986, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. He is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and University Professor at Boston University.

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Customer Reviews

As with all of his books, very thought provoking.
Through his characters, he examines mankind's history, meaning, and purpose.
Charles S. Weinblatt
A beautifully written book with great character developement.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mary Jane on August 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Hostage is the first book I have ever read by Elie Wiesel. While I was certainly familiar with Night and some of his other works, the opportunity to read one of his books never presented itself. He was always an author on my "to-read list" never managing to make it over to my "currently reading list", that is until recently. A good friend sent me a copy of the book a few days ago and said I must read it. I'm so happy they have good taste in books and I took their advice. Wiesel uses the hostage situation of the narrator Shaltiel Feigenberg as a framing device. I initially believed the book would be only about the relationship between the narrator and his captive, but that would be far too simplistic of novel instead the narrator is a storyteller like Elie Wiesel and uses the stories of his past to think about his own life and connect with humanity of his captors. Wiesel masterfully creates a multifaceted story encompassing large spans of history so intricately woven into the story. While it may seem didactic at times to some readers, I appreciated the detailed explanations of the narrators opinions and especially historical context. Hostage is not a novel of politics nor a thriller, but a far more subtle combination of two forcing readers to confront questions of faith and identity.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1975 New York City. Shaltiel Feigenberg, a gentle Jewish husband, professional storyteller, and writer is abducted from a Brooklyn street by an Arab and an Italian. He is placed in a basement, bound, and blindfolded. His life is to be exchanged for imprisoned Palestinian terrorists. Although Shaltiel is unknown to almost everyone, his abduction and captivity generate global news attention.

As the world waits apprehensively for his release, Shaltiel regales his captors with stories of his family, his childhood spent hiding from Nazis, the compassion of Russian soldiers who liberated him, and his older brother who turned from Judaism to communism and later escaped from Stalin's ruthless leaders. All the while, his rescue has become paramount for every police officer and spy, as well as for leaders of the Western nations, the Israeli government, and the global news media.

Tied up and blindfolded in a dark basement, Shaltiel gradually unravels the fabric of a life filled with brutality, captivity, remorse, and fantasy. He struggles to find meaning among memories coated with fear and remorse.

On the emotional front, his Arab captor is filled with anger and cruelty, hurling anti-Semitic invectives, engaging in physical brutality, and he torturing Shaltiel. The Italian captor is less violent; he is a listener motivated by political purpose and an eye toward insurrection. His goal is to change the beliefs and habits of the masses in order to foment revolution.

Author Wiesel's use of metaphor in Hostage is superb. Through his characters, he examines mankind's history, meaning, and purpose. The Arab is the killer. His goal is to use imprisonment and murder to intimidate Americans and Israelis.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Pollock on August 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The story started slowly, but built in suspense, as the reader begins to identify with the innocent hostage, a Holocaust survivor and storyteller. His abductors are a fanatic Arab terrorist and an Italian anarchist. As a child, Shaltiel, the hostage, was a self taught chess master and his life was saved because an aristocratic Hungarian officer wanted to play chess with a master. These games are dead serious, as the child Shaltiel must decide whether to win or lose, depending on his judgment of his opponent.

Forward 30-some years to 1975: Shaltiel is abducted off the street by the two terrorists, at random. They don't know who he is and believe he must know important Jews who will influence Israel to release imprisoned terrorists. Shaltiel enters into another chess game, this time a game of wits, with the more "humane" of his captors, the Italian. They argue the validity of the Italian's anarchistic view of the world. This is not a story, but a brilliant philosophical tour de force.

There are flashbacks to Shaltiel's original captivity in Hungary at the mercy of the Hungarian officer who hides him and his father and cousin, and does so merely to play chess with the child. Once again Shaltiel is a hostage to fate.

I mentioned the name "Elie Weisel" to a Jewish professional of 35, who to my amazement, did not know who he was. This to me is the denouement of the book. Within a generation since 1975, Elie Weisel, witness, embodiment of memory, Nobel Prize-winner, has been forgotten by the new generation of Jews. This is the true tragedy.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In 1975 in Brooklyn, Luigi the radical Italian revolutionary and Ahmed the Palestinian anti-Zionist abduct Shaltiel the Orthodox Jew. Luigi and Ahmed demand the release of three Palestinian prisoners in exchange for letting Shaltiel free. They hold him captive for eighty hours while the world media depict this previously nonentity in dramatically different ways.

The two kidnappers treat Shaltiel differently as Luigi has nothing against Jews while Ahmed loathes all Jews. Shaltiel is confused why him as he offers no value to anyone as a simple storyteller who enjoys telling tales. Still while in captivity and facing torture especially from the angry Palestinian Shaltiel begins to tell the story of his life. He starts with his family at Auschwitz where his grandmother died while a Nazi officer hid him. He thinks of his first meeting with his future wife Blanca and other family matters over the years as time is running out.

This is a taut thriller starring three fascinating but diverse individuals. Shaltiel tells his story while defending Israel's position towards the Palestinians as security for the Jewish State; Ahmed makes a case for a free Palestine; and Luigi takes a world position; none of them attempt to truly understand their two "companions.". Although the ending is contrived, readers will enjoy Elie Wiesel's latest work as Shaltiel's past is incredible and his present dilemma interesting with its psychological insight into captivity as everyone is a prisoner.

Harriet Klausner
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