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The Rescuer (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Dara Horn
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In 1941, a young Harvard-educated classicist named Varian Fry arrived in occupied France on a daring mission to rescue more than 2,000 of Europe's leading writers, artists, and intellectuals from the Nazis. Hounded by the Gestapo, he smuggled Marchel Duchamp, Marc Chagall, Hannah Arendt and dozens of other 20th century cultural luminaries out of France and brought them to America. So why did even the people Fry saved want to forget him? In this fascinating psychological profile, acclaimed novelist Dara Horn, chosen by Granta magazine as one of the 25 best young novelists in America, follows the peculiar life and legacy of an American Oskar Schindler. In the process, she reveals the secrets of a man who risked his life when others were silent — and the unforeseen consequences, personal and cultural, of his bravery.

Editorial Reviews Review

Thanks to an Oscar-winning film by Steven Spielberg, the name Oskar Schindler is almost as familiar as the name Anne Frank. Hollywood, and history, hasn't been as kind to Varian Fry, even though he shared a similar heroic streak. Varian Fry saved hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust, including some of the "brightest stars of European culture." Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Hannah Arendt... these are just a few of the luminaries who owe their lives to him. How is it, then, that Fry's name isn't just as recognizable as theirs? Dara Horn aims to remedy that in this Kindle Single, and in the process examines other interesting questions: Is there such a thing as a rescuer's mentality? Do individuals like Oskar Schindler and Varian Fry agonize over their dangerous work, wrestle with the moral complexities involved--are they ever afraid? Or, are they hardwired to "immediately recognize what [any given] situation calls for" with an almost auto-response? For that matter, did the Nazis agonize over their actions? Hannah Arendt reasoned that the evil perpetrated on the Jews was possible because of certain individuals' "inability to think." Horn's Kindle Single begs us all to do the opposite: think, ask questions, and remember the Varian Frys of the world, whose work she convincingly argues should be lauded just as much as, if not more than, any of the "bright stars" this forgotten hero saved. --Erin Kodicek

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Product Details

  • File Size: 117 KB
  • Print Length: 43 pages
  • Publisher: Tablet Magazine (January 15, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006Y409UW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,091 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating account of a little-known hero of WWII January 17, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Millions of people know the name of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who saved many Jews from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. There were many others who also saved Jewish lives, but few of them have had big budget, award-winning films made about them. Varian Fry, an American, is one of those rescuers whose name has largely faded into obscurity.

Thanks to author Dara Horn for writing a short, engrossing story about Varian Fry. In 1940, France fell to the Germans. By this time, many of Europe's Jewish cultural elite had fled to southern France, which was ruled by the collaborationist Vichy government. A young American idealist, Varian Fry, volunteered to go to France on behalf of the Emergency Rescue Committee to rescue the "guiding lights of Western civilization." Over the next year, Fry helped about 2,000 of Europe's leading Jewish artists, writers, musicians, philosophers, and scientists escape from the Germans.

But what made The Rescuer notable was not just the brief, but fascinating, biography of Varian Fry and his role in saving European Jews, but Ms. Horn's persistence in asking difficult questions. Questions like "Why do some people willingly go in harm's way to save others whose lives are in danger?" The answer, as Ms. Horn found, isn't at all obvious, nor is there any consensus opinion. In the case of the Holocaust, Ms. Horn points out that the real story--and a painful one--is that thousands were saved, but millions were lost due to the world's inaction as nations tried to accommodate and compromise with the Nazis, while closing their eyes to the plight of the European Jews. Does that devalue the rescuers' accomplishments?

The anecdotes about Fry, members of his volunteer staff, and some of their "clients" were especially intriguing.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable story January 19, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Rescuer is the reason I now own a Kindle. I heard Ms Horn interviewed on Vox Tablet (an excellent podcast) and then read an excerpt of The Rescuer on the Tablet website. I had to read the rest and had wanted a Kindle, so by the very next morning it had been delivered (thank you Amazon!) and The Rescuer was the first thing I downloaded and read. It is a fascinating, little known and tragic story which addresses profoundly difficult truths such as; who we choose to value (who we choose to save first - famous artists vs non famous humans), the ingratitude and boorish behavior towards their savior of some of the elites saved (painful to admit), the policy of our State Department in choosing good relations with Vichy France over saving Jews, and the reasons that the very few risked everything to save others they did not know. Highly, highly recommended.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rescuer January 21, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This essay is extraordinary. I really enjoyed Ms. Horn's fiction and happily borrowed this single from the Amazon library. Now I feel as if I should distribute copies to everyone I know. Here are many important themes in the work but the one that resonated with me had to do with the compulsion some people have to do putatively futile and actually dangerous work - to be a rescuer. So good! Highly highly recommended.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insights into the rescuer and the rescued January 23, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I first saw Dara Horn's The Rescuer on the list of Kindle Singles I assumed it would be another telling of Schindler's List, but with a different cast of characters. I couldn't have been more wrong.

True, the essay focuses on Varian Fry, an idealist American who volunteers to travel to occupied France to help leading artists, composers, writers and intellectuals of the day escape the spreading horrors of the Nazis. But Horn goes beyond the mere facts of Fry's heroism to pose the question of what makes a "rescuer," someone who puts his own life at risk to save others. She also ponders the psychology of the rescued as well, many of whom were indifferent to Fry after their escape to America. And what about the morality of deciding who is worthy of being spared while millions of others were ground up in the Nazi death machine? Horn poses that issue also in the brief essay.

I have to admit that when Amazon first started publishing Kindle Singles I had my doubts. Who, after all, would want to purchase just an essay or short story? Now I regularly scan the titles published as Kindle Singles. I've read some fascinating pieces of journalism, essays and fiction in the Singles format and Horn's The Rescuer is one of the most provocative titles I've encountered. It resonated with me long after I had finished and left me wishing the Single could have been a far longer work. But in the meantime I will content myself with re-reading the essay, certain that when I do fresh insights will pop out at me.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible story. Brilliantly written January 22, 2012
By Mo
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is not your typical, feel-good righteous gentile story (not that there is anything wrong with those) but this story goes deeper. Dara Horn's writing is entertaining - it reads like fiction- yet is nuanced and smart. This is an amazing story, expertly told.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The untold tale of Varian Fry January 29, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"The Rescuer" is a partial biography by author Dara Horn. This is a Kindle e-book that was a 117 Kb download and was priced at $1.99. (free for prime members)

This is a true story of Varian Fry, an american who was sent into Marseille, France in 1940 to try to rescue intellectuals from then Nazi occupied France. Marseille unoccupied, but was controlled during this time by the Vichy government who ruled under the direct thumb of Nazi occupied northern France. Varian Fry and his associates at the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC) during thier time of operation (1940-41), were able to save 2000 people from extermination in German concentration camps.

What is somewhat unusual about the story is that almost no one knows of this man, despite his deeds of heroics. It was author's intent to discover why... she talked to several people and read as many articles and interviews she could find to try to glean a little more information about this man and his life (before, during and after the war).
Some revealing findings about his personality... it appeared that Fry was difficult to get along with most people and as a result had few friends, had a labile temperament, had trouble holding jobs (when at home) both before and after the war, and had two unsuccessful marriages.

In her investigation she is confronted with some disturbing facts.

1.) the premise of the ERC was to try to save the intellectuals... prevent the best brains in Europe from falling into the wrong hands. Most of who were classified as undesirables, and were thus destined for extermination. As a result many 'normal' people were rejected from being 'saved' because they weren't famous enough.

2.) the lack of gratitude on part of those saved towards the 'rescuers'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read on so many levels
A wonderfully written essay searching what motivates a person to do the right thing. And thankfully brings to light the heroic story of Varian Fry saving the Jewish "great artists"... Read more
Published 4 hours ago by John W Edelglass MD
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book about an "unknown" man
A revelation to me about one man's heroism and tortured soul. Also a revelation of the obstacles that anti-Semitic forces in the US State Department in World War II put in the way... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ellen
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Interesting but not riveting-just touched the surface of the subject I think.
Published 6 months ago by Lois
2.0 out of 5 stars confusing read
the book seems to be a little hard to follow. i really did not care for it. it seemed to jump around different people , different places. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Paulette p
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
so good
Published 8 months ago by lbh
5.0 out of 5 stars Varian Fry--A Forgotten Hero
Well, maybe not hero. Dara Horn tells the true story of a man I had never heard of before, a Righteous Gentile, who saved some of the world's greatest artists from certain death by... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Pamela Sawyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating bit of often overlooked history, and so much more
If this book only told the story of Varian Fry and his work rescuing people from the Nazis, it would be worth reading. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Tungsten Hippo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Extraordinary tale of an extraordinary life!
Published 9 months ago by Elena Piatok
5.0 out of 5 stars A profound reflection on vanity, mental illness, and the contents of...
This is a short, exceedingly well-written essay that does many things. It stirs the heart with the true tale of a hero who acted against a backdrop of brutality and death. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jaime Martínez Bowness
3.0 out of 5 stars A Little Dry
I was interested in learning about Varian Fry's
mission the book seemed to lack a spark. Part of the book gave me what I was looking for, but it was lacking something. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Michelle Mednik
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More About the Author

Dara Horn was born in New Jersey in 1977 and received her Ph.D. in comparative literature from Harvard University in 2006, studying Hebrew and Yiddish. In 2007 she was chosen by Granta magazine as one of America's "Best Young American Novelists." Her first novel, In the Image, published by W.W. Norton when she was 25, received a 2003 National Jewish Book Award, the 2002 Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and the 2003 Reform Judaism Fiction Prize. Her second novel, The World to Come, published by W.W. Norton in 2006, received the 2006 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, the 2007 Harold U. Ribalow Prize, was selected as an Editors' Choice in The New York Times Book Review and as one of the Best Books of 2006 by The San Francisco Chronicle, and has been translated into eleven languages. Her third novel, All Other Nights, published in 2009 by W.W. Norton, was selected as an Editors' Choice in The New York Times Book Review and was one of Booklist's 25 Best Books of the Decade. In 2012, her nonfiction e-book The Rescuer was published by Tablet magazine and became a Kindle bestseller. Her newest novel, A Guide for the Perplexed, is available in September 2013. She has taught courses in Jewish literature and Israeli history at Harvard, Sarah Lawrence College, and City University of New York, and has lectured at over two hundred universities and cultural institutions throughout North America and in Israel. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children.

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