14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A tribute to a Wonderful Woman,
This review is from: A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor (Hardcover)
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A Century of Wisdom is a tribute to Alice Herz-Sommer, the world's oldest living Holocaust survivor. This book does not focus on Alice's experiences in the Holocaust. She did not want to talk about her time in Theresienstadt; a way station to Auschwitz for many, and known as the `model' German concentration camp where she gave concerts. Alice played more than a hundred concerts there between 1943 and liberation.
Music gave her hope and helped the other prisoners forget finding their names on transport lists to Auschwitz, and their hunger and their harsh surroundings. (More than 156,000 passed through the gates of Theresienstadt and only 11% would survive.)
The book skims across the surface of Alice's life, beginning with her idyllic early days in Czechoslovakia, her time as a prisoner in Theresienstadt, to her time in Israel and London. The book focuses less on Alice's time as a concentration camp prisoner and more on Alice's illustrious musical career and famous people she knew.
There are some interesting anecdotes about Kafka who was a friend of Alice's sister's fiancé. Alice remembered Kafka as an `eternal child' who when he couldn't decide what to study, became a lawyer. He was often late and often got lost, and made up stories of wild imaginary beasts and could be a lot of fun.
Alice became friends with Israel's Prime Minister, Golda Meir and tells about the day Golda helped her peel potatoes in her kitchen.
The book jumps around in time which at times makes the narrative difficult to follow, but this is more an observation than a criticism. There is little to criticize here. It was written about, and with the help of, a woman who is 107 years old who has had a long and rich and interesting life.
The book imparts simple, but not profound wisdom about a sensible way to live one's life: accept reality, don't let anger or frustration dominate your time; have the courage to trust your own instincts instead of depending on the approval of others; it is how you handle good and evil that's important. Each of us must vigilantly guard against prejudice and hatred in our own minds.
This is a nice book about a nice lady who survived a horrible experience in a terrible time and went on to live a beautiful life.