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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
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. One of my favorites was the well known woman refugee who showed up with seventeen pieces of luggage, all of which she insisted were essential, knowing that she had to face the grueling trek across the Pyrenees into Spain.

The Rescuer is a short book, with 745 Kindle locations. Lending and Text-to-Speech are enabled.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2012
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
on January 21, 2012
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
on January 23, 2012
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
on January 22, 2012
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
on January 29, 2012
"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'. Many interviews of now famous and successful persons who were rescued, when asked about this period of their lives, consistently omit the merest mention of this feat of heroics or a simple thank-you to those that risked their lives for them.
One can only surmise that his (Fry's) unpopularity, his general unlike-ability must have rubbed off on those being rescued in some way. But still, it's hard to believe that you could so annoy those you were saving that they'd completely forget you afterwards. Yet the facts remain, and this 'trend' of forgetting him, somehow speaks volumes.

3.) and maybe most revealing, at least about Varian Fry own story, was the fact that there appeared to be more than just 'righteous' intentions in his desire of leading the ERC in their rescue efforts. Apparently he'd volunteered for the job so he could associate with those intellectuals and artists who he really admired. He felt his period in Nazi controlled France in the early 1940s was the best time of his life. It's as if he was doing all the right things, but not necessarily for all the right reasons.

Cover Art...rather simplistic, yet somehow completely appropriate and effective for the telling of the tale found between the covers.

Conclusion:
An interesting account of one of WWII little known rescuers. In addition to providing some intriguing facts on this unusual man, we learn many tidbits that give us some insights into the political goings-on of this era.

As it is...5 Stars

Ray Nicholson
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2012
Up until this point, everything we read from Dara Horn has been (fantastic) fiction. Now she gives us a very interesting non-fiction piece, describing Varian Fry and the work he did to rescue artists, writers and intellectuals in Nazi-occupied France. This is a relatively short (but well-packed) piece that will show you a whole new side of the "righteous gentile" story. Horn does a great job of illustrating the different perspectives of the rescuer and the rescued, and shows the hard-to-understand ingratitude of many whose lives were saved by Fry. Well worth the read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2012
This is a very interesting chapter in Holocaust literature - rarely addressed. Varian Fry died in obscurity. He had made it possible for some of the most creative minds in Europe to escape death at the hands of the Nazis & to come to the United States. The astonishing part of the tale is that collectively, they ignored him as they went on to fame and fortune and he died alone and virtually penniless. Not one showed any gratitude or appreciation. I have always wondered why...this is the first treatment of the subject to explore this sad tale in any depth. Dara Horn has done a fine job - wish it was longer.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2012
And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.
- Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 37a

Enter the disturbing world of the altruist,who sets out on a mission to rescue select members of Europe's artistic and intellectual community from certain death at the hands of the Nazis and their Vichy puppets.

The author, using manuscripts recovered from archives,and personal interviews,reveals the personal turmoil of a dedicated individual who created a list of preferred survivors in a large community of unfortunates marked for certain death in Nazi dominated Vichy France. Bereft of consistent organizational and government funding and support, the main character selects those creative individuals whose loss he feels would represent a disater for modern civilization and sets about, often at great odds and personal danger to bring them safely to America.

His country, and mainstream relief organizations eventually turn against him. Those he rescued at great personal risk shun him out of embarassment at having required relief. His underlying motive of altruism is challenged by those who feel he sought only personal recognition and a wish to bask in the glory of the famous he saved. The ethical reader will challenge his right to select the life of one human as being more valuable than another.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2013
I'm glad this was written as so many people were saved, despite the hierarchy that prevented even more rescued lives. The 'surprise' was the almost total lack of gratitude, or even acknowledgement, by the recipients.
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