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The Oasis: A Memoir of Love and Survival in a Concentration Camp Hardcover – September, 2001

4.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With historical sweep and accuracy, and a happy ending, this unique Holocaust memoir simultaneously elicits thrills and disquietude. Novelist and memoirist Popescu (Amazon Beaming) has rewritten the memoirs of his parents-in-law, Mirek Friedman and Blanka Davidovich, and fashioned their story of falling in love during and marrying after WWII into a cohesive narrative of interspersed first-person chapters. Their individual stories are unique and riveting: Blanka moved through various camps and job assignments, witnessing horror, enduring separation from her family and finding safety in carefully and continually breaking rules and asserting herself. Mirek, a political prisoner and an able technician who managed to keep his real Jewish identity hidden, survived the camps by doing maintenance work and defusing bombs for the SS. Their descriptions of their affair, conducted under excruciating circumstances, makes palpable their hope of surviving to make a future together. The drama unfurls intently and powerfully, filled with significant moments and insights Blanka's remembrances and contemplation of shtetl life; Mirek's attempt to smuggle a radio into the camp that gets him interrogated. In an afterword, Popescu explains how he searched for a narrative voice that would encompass both of his subjects (as well as his other background research); yet because of his curious, rather novelistic construction, Blanka's and Mirek's voices seem disconcertingly uniform. But by the end, their valor and their enthralling, remarkable determination to shape their own fates supersedes any distracting stylistic flaws.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

When Mirek Friedman first caught a glimpse of Blanka as she stumbled off the train into the Dachau 3b camp, he thought to himself, "She won't survive. None of those girls will." With shaved heads, emaciated bodies, and four days without food or water, many of the prisoners were unable to pull themselves from the cattle cars. Once in the camp, they endured beatings, starvation, and the constant fear of mass extermination. And yet, in the words of one Czech freedom fighter, "Human beings are so incredible. In the direst conditions, they still yearn for love." Popescu (Amazon Beaming), the son-in-law of Mirek and Blanka, has written a riveting and ennobling account of these two brave souls who fell in love and risked death nearly every day to steal a few minutes together by a break in the fence. From its opening moments at the concentration camp to Mirek's escape, Blanka's freedom at the hands of American soldiers, and their ultimate reunion in Prague, this book offers a powerful account of love and survival. Highly recommended for all libraries. Amy Strong, East Boothbay, ME
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 355 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (September 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312278691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312278694
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,085,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Not only is this a compelling novel made even more amazing by the fact that it is a true story, but the writing and the way the author captured the story - and his characters - leaves me in awe. The author did a wonderful job of portraying a camp from the inside and included enough historical facts to educate his readers, yet not weigh it down (which would be incredibly easy and sometimes happens in novels of this genre). I've read many books about this time in history - from historical documents to autobiographies and this one is among the best in its blend of fact and "personal story". You never for a second aren't aware that these people are real and lived through this amazing challenge. It will touch you forever and you will think about this amazing couple and incredible love story for a long time to come.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My mother, a Holocaust survivor, never talked to me about her experiences in a Nazi concentration camp. This novel gave me a vivid picture of what it was like to survive such an ordeal and the deep scars that such an event can imprint on peoples lives. I am grateful to Blanka and Mirek Friedman for making public such a personal account of their love story and more importantly to Petru Popescu for using his obvious literary talent to bring such a story to life. The novel evokes life in a concentration camp with such force that by the end of the novel I got the feeling that I have experienced life in camp Muldorf.
Many years ago I read some of Petru Popescu's Romanian novels. His English writing is as powerful as it was in Romanian. Great book, I strongly recommend it.
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By Amoe on November 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Rarely do I read a book or see a movie about the Holocaust. But as a fan of Popescu, I was curious (check out "Almost Adam" and "Amazon Beaming"). Popescu, more than anyone I've read, has the ability to evoke and make tangible the emotional space of extreme human experience. "The Oasis" is a remarkable achievement in this regard. We see and hear the "camp" but we feel and recognize the exhilaration and wonder of a high school romance. A story of love and dignity held close to the bone and the soul, "The Oasis" illuminates the "secret of life".
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Format: Hardcover
Popescu managed to hook the reader in with his extradordinary style and vivid descriptions. This is the best book I've ever read about the Holocaust era (and I have read almost all of them), and I urge you to read it even if you are uncomfortable reading about the era. The Oasis is a story about love that just happens to take place in a concentration camp.
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By A Customer on April 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is wonderful. It is so honest in such a dishonest time of history. You find yourself rooting for the main characters with all of your passion. You get to feel like you know Mirek (Karel) and Blanka like they were family. This book is such a pleasure. I will read it again and again until my copy if so worn, that I will have to buy it again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first I had a very difficult time getting into The Oasis, partly because the book is narrated by both of the subjects in the book: Mirek Friedman and Blanka Davidovich. The book also starts in the middle of Blanka being transferred from one camp to another. Because of that, I read the book a few times to get the flow of it. Basically, the book takes place in the camp of Muhldorf in Bavaria and Mirek and Blanka fall in love. It seemed totally out of place for two people to fall in love in such an unlikely place. A place where you are a slave and being beaten and worked to death just doesn't fit with my idea of a place to fall in love. Eventually though, I came to really love this book and that was the feeling I got from reading it. A wonderful love story that I am so glad I had the opportunity to read.
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Format: Hardcover
Blanka meets Mirek in Dachau after managing to survive Auscwitz. When she arrives in Dachau, she is only thinking about surviving the present and doesn't feel much of anything. Mirek befriends her and she begins to feel again-- love, hate, fear, everything.
This story of courtship that began during a time in a concentration camp is compelling and strange. This is more than just a WWII concentration camp story; it is timeless because it shows how hope might be killed due to human depravity and despair, but it can also be restored through love, family, and feelings. There is so much more I could say about this book that just can't be expressed in a review-- so I'll just say READ IT!
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