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The Brigade : An Epic Story of Vengeance, Salvation, and World War II Hardcover – November 6, 2001

111 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although the official history of the Jewish Brigade Group (a unit of some 5,000 Jews who fought with the British Eighth Army in Italy in the waning months of the conflict) has been written, Blum (Wanted! The Search for Nazis in America) breaks new ground by looking into the clandestine operations that occurred after the shooting had stopped. Once they learned the true extent of the holocaust, soldiers of the brigade began using intelligence reports to pinpoint the location of former SS officers and camp guards. The enraged Jewish troops took vengeance into their own hands, eventually slaying hundreds of Nazi death dealers. Blum follows the story of three men Israel Carmi, Johanan Peltz and Arie Pinchuk in detail, interviewed dozens of others, read unpublished personal memoirs and had Hebrew-language documents translated for him. During the war, the more daring Jewish soldiers formed a secret unit that appropriated British supplies trucks, weapons and food and diverted them to ships heading illegally for Palestine The plan included the "repatriation" of thousands of war orphans, who were clandestinely taken from displaced person camps and smuggled to Palestine. The underground Jewish Haganah figured prominently in these operations, which contributed directly to the creation of Israel. Blum, twice nominated for a Pulitzer as a New York Times investigative reporter, and now a Vanity Fair contributing editor, presents the material masterfully, building suspense and carefully documenting all the action. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Nov. 2)Forecast: A BOMC and Traditions Book Club alternate, this book should get a push from Blum's journalistic cronies. Rights have been sold in Germany, Holland and the U.K., and to Miramax. Blum's The Gold of Exodus is currently in development with Castle Rock.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-There is a perception that during the Holocaust, the Jews rarely physically fought back against the Nazis. The most avid readers of World War II books know that resistance did occur (the best known is the Warsaw Ghetto uprising), but it was not enough to change the course of the genocide. The Brigade tells a different story. A 5000-man "Jewish Brigade" was formed from settlers in Palestine, but it was not until the waning days of the war, in November 1944, that the British sent it to fight. This account is told from the perspective of three soldiers and relies heavily on interviews the author conducted with them. It takes readers from the early days of the brigade, through the frustration of the soldiers who were sitting out the war, to the combat operations of the closing days of the war in Italy. The Jewish Brigade had little impact on the outcome of World War II, but its existence was critical to the future state of Israel. Almost from the very beginning, it was involved in smuggling Jewish refugees out of Europe and into Palestine. This book is not a standard military history, but is written more like a novel. It is packed with detail but moves along quickly. It will have great appeal to those students who want to explore beyond the standard histories of the period.
Robert Burnham, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (November 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060194863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060194864
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #859,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Having started out my career as a reporter for the NY Times, I've moved on to being an author. And while I'm still writing non-fiction, I'm now more focused in writing books that are driven by characters and a sustained narrative. I live in Connecticut and am the father of 3 teenagers - one in college, one starting next year, and one still struggling through high school geometry. My tenth book will be published by Crown/Random House April 26. It's entitled THE FLOOR OF HEAVEN and its a true story about a cowboy turned Pinkerton detective who goes off to the Yukon Gold Rush to pursue a puzzling and suspenseful case. Twentieth Century Fox just bought the film rights, and I find the prospect of a movie based on the book to be exciting - as do the bursars at the colleges attended by my kids.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Bruce J. Wasser on March 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Rarely does a history interweave compelling personal histories and enormous social/moral themes as does Howard Blum's moving and convicing "The Brigade." This work does far more than describe the formation, engagements and ultimate triumphs of the first organized Jewish armed forces in two millenia; it firmly places the five thousand Jewish Palestinian volunteers who fought with the Star of David proudly placed on their shoulders in the center of Jewish history. The men who would don British uniforms would fight for a myriad of purposes: out of anger against the unspeakable evil of the Holocaust, from an awareness that they were living rebukes to the notion that Jews served as deseerving recipients of passive suffering, with a sense of their historical purpose of establishing a Jewish homeland and becoming ironic adversaries of the very nation (Britain) which enlisted their service.
Though "The Brigade" nobly treats the themes of Jewish armed resistance, vengeance and ultimate salvation, this memorable history above all signals the profound development of a renewed Jewish identity, forged in battle against the background of genocide and ruin, tested by personal sorrow and fortified by a messianic vision of a Jewish homeland for the shattered remnants of European Jewry. The Jewish fighters are proud, heroic and consecrated to their vision; they become increasingly aware of their role in a Jewish future. Initially consumed by rage and the obvious need to crush their German enemy, the three members of The Brigade on whom this history focuses evolve morally. From muderous avengers of the crime of mass murder, these men ultimately perceive their role as guardians of those Jews who survived the Holocaust, especially the children, as central to their lives' meaning.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By James Foley on December 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
An Israeli "Band of Brothers"
All those who loved the recent HBO miniseries (and Stephen Ambrose book) "Band of Brothers" will also enjoy "The Brigade" by Howard Bloom.
"The Brigade" is the story of the Jewish Brigade Group, a unit made up of Jews - mostly from the then-British mandate of Palestine. Also known as the Jewish Fighting Brigade, it was formed in 1994 and played a critical role in the defeat of the Nazi armies in Northern Italy in 1945 as integral part of the British 8th Army.
Like "Band of Brothers", "The Brigade" not only gives us a history of the unit as a whole, but also allows us to get a better understanding of some of the individual members. In place of Dick winters, Lewis Nixon,Carwood Lipton, etc. we have Sgt. Israel Carmi, Cap't Johanthan Peltz, and Lt. Arie Pinchuk.
And while "Band of Brothers" reaches it's anticlimax in May of 1945 (or even in earlier in '45, after the victory at Bastogne), the story of the Jewish Brigade only gets more interesting after the war "officially" ends.
Though nominally part of the British army, the loyalty of most members was to the Jewish people. Service in the British army was seen merely as a means to an end. It was in this spirit, that the Brigade (aided by elements of American intelligence) started to carry out a campaign to identify and eliminate Nazi war criminals that had evaded Allied arrest. Their efforts as infiltrating and destroying a secret Nazi cabal that was spiriting former SS officers into hiding in South America was as exciting and as filled with intrigue as anything that could come out of the imagination of John Le Carre.
The adventure, however, doesn't stop there.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The turning point of this masterpiece is a short scene in a church. Two soldiers, wearing their Jewish Brigade uniforms, show up to assassinate a Nazi in hiding. Instead, one of the congregants, a young girl, sees them and confesses to them in broken Herbew that she is a Jewish orphan and wants to leave with the soldiers. Suddenly, the soldiers see a shift in their mission from being assassins to rescuing Jews and smuggling them to Israel. This noble mission is completed, at times at odds with the British Army and at times with their tacit aid. This story how one chance encounter leads to the rescue of tens of thousands is a magnificant story that should stand alongside the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By KATHI on July 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Howard Blum has written a compelling true narrative of a small group of Jewish soldiers who fought the Nazis along side the British Army in WWII. This little known slice of history is conveyed persuasively in The Brigade.

Blum discovered this small piece of history by accident when visiting the US Holocaust Museum. After he pulled together scores of interviews, he chose to tell the story through the eyes of three soldiers and one survivor, the sister of one of the soldiers. This telling is what gives this book its potency.

The strength of The Brigade is that it reads as a novel, and the reader cannot turn the pages fast enough to find out what happens next. Blum's accurate portrayal and attention to details is what keeps us focused on the reality of this amazing story of courage and perserverance. He reminds us through his excellent storytelling that this did happen.

The book is not another war novel that expounds on the accounts of military victories. It shows the sacrifices and the souls of these men who risked their lives to save their people. It reveals their struggles and their doubts as well as their triumphant spirits.

The Brigade is a must read. It is uplifting and demonstrates the human spirit at its best.
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