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The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews Paperback – June 15, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Captivating...a welcome story of bold, determined, and successful resistance....[An] unjustly neglected story.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“As amazing as Schindler’s List.” (People)

“This remarkable story would make a terrific movie…. A story about heroes, and Duffy does a masterful job.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Fast-paced and deeply moving...inspiring in its representation of the heroism of ordinary people.” (Washington Post)

“An engrossing, inspiring narrative ... of an incredible victory amid an immeasurable tragedy.” (Dallas Morning News)

“A haunting book...with the grip of good fiction and the punch of hard truth.” (Chicago Tribune)

“An extraordinary story of resistance.” (Jonathan Mirsky, The Spectator (A Book of the Year))

“Powerful! The strength of the human spirt shines on in [this] beautifully written book.” (Paula Zahn, CNN Live from the Headlines)

“Remarkable [and] surprising ... Duffy’s book is a gripping and overdue tribute to the brothers’ resourcefulness and courage.” (London Times)

“A fascinating story!” (The Economist)

“[A] dramatic and heartfelt story of unbelievable courage in the face of unspeakable adversity.” (PW Daily)

“Uplifting....A powerful recounting of a little-known story.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A wildly daring, untold tale of resistance .... inspiring and harrowing.” (Jewish Bulletin)

“An exciting, well-paced story about honor, courage and duty. An inspiration.” (Howard Blum, author of THE BRIGADE)

About the Author

Peter Duffy is the author of The Bielski Brothers. He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060935537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060935535
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
When the Germans finally retreated from Belarus in the summer of 1944, almost twelve hundred Jewish survivors of the Holocaust shocked the world by materializing from the forest where they had lived in hiding during the German occupation. Tuvia, Asael, and Zus Bielski, three brothers, had managed to establish a well-organized community in the forest which lasted for almost three years, protecting hundreds of Jewish citizens while wreaking havoc on their German occupiers. Author Peter Duffy places this extraordinary story of survival in context by describing the Bielskis' lives and achievements, quoting from Tuvia Bielski's previously unknown journal, and revealing the sociopolitical history, including the anti-Semitism, of Belarus, a region south of Lithuania.

In establishing their forest community, open to all Jews, the Bielskis had to fight "wars" on four fronts: the immediate threat from the Germans and the local police; the danger from local peasants and collaborators; the suspicions of Soviet partisans who questioned whether the Bielskis were sufficiently dedicated to their cause; and most of all, internal dissension. This was no "utopian community of enlightened democratic and egalitarian governance," and many readers may cringe at the extremes to which the leadership occasionally resorted in order to eliminate dissension.

At its height, the forest village consisted of long, camouflaged dugouts for sleeping, a large kitchen, mill, bakery, bathhouse, tannery, school, jail, theater, and two medical facilities. Tailors, seamstresses, shoemakers, watchmakers, carpenters, mechanics, and experts in demolition provided the 1200-member community with necessary skills, and about sixty cows and thirty horses provided food and transportation.
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Format: Paperback
If you have any interest in the Partisan movement, the Jewish resistance, the Warsaw uprising, the White rose, Edelweiss Pirates, Oskar Schindler or anyone else that defied the nazi regime, you have to read this book. First off, this is not a bang bang shoot em up account of the Bielski brothers. This is more about the massive effort it took to move over 800 people-quietly- thru a forest crawling with thousands of Nazis whose only purpose was to find them. Truly, an amazing feat of logistics that can be marvelled at, but then to think that they did it more than once?!?! Unbelievable!

If you didnt know any better, you'd swear it was a work of fiction, moreover, after reading it, you are going to wonder why on earth are our children not taught about such brave souls! truly one of the more memorable and gripping books I have read in quite a while. get it, you will not be sorry.
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Format: Hardcover
When the Germans finally retreated from Belarus in the summer of 1944, almost twelve hundred Jewish survivors of the Holocaust shocked the world by materializing from the forest where they had lived in hiding during the German occupation. Tuvia, Asael, and Zus Bielski, three brothers, had managed to establish a well-organized community in the forest which lasted for almost three years, protecting hundreds of Jewish citizens while wreaking havoc on their German occupiers. Author Peter Duffy places this extraordinary story of survival in context by describing the Bielskis? lives and achievements, quoting from Tuvia Bielski?s previously unknown journal, and revealing the sociopolitical history, including the anti-Semitism, of Belarus, a region south of Lithuania.
In establishing their forest community, open to all Jews, the Bielskis had to fight "wars" on four fronts: the immediate threat from the Germans and the local police; the danger from local peasants and collaborators; the suspicions of Soviet partisans who questioned whether the Bielskis were sufficiently dedicated to their cause; and most of all, internal dissension. This was no "utopian community of enlightened democratic and egalitarian governance," and many readers may cringe at the extremes to which the leadership occasionally resorted in order to eliminate dissension.
At its height, the forest village consisted of long, camouflaged dugouts for sleeping, a large kitchen, mill, bakery, bathhouse, tannery, school, jail, theater, and two medical facilities. Tailors, seamstresses, shoemakers, watchmakers, carpenters, mechanics, and experts in demolition provided the 1200-member community with necessary skills, and about sixty cows and thirty horses provided food and transportation.
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Format: Paperback
After having watched the film "Defiance" a moving and upsetting portrayal of the story, I noted that some here on Amazon criticized the director for straying from the real story. So, I got this book from the library, read it and here are my views.

The book is thoroughly sourced and researched and it shows. While there is a coherent narrative the book borrows from direct quotes from those who were there. We hear first hand impressions and they are raw and nightmarish. While I was upset at the depictions in the movie, it really does not come close to the fullness of suffering, depredation, murder, evil and heroic efforts described in the book. The scale of evil, in my view, as Jews in particular were singularly targeted in Eastern Europe, is amongst the most vile actions of the despicable Nazi regime. When the war was slipping away from them the SS stepped up their efforts to complete the destruction of European Jewry at the expense of evacuating their own soldiers from the front. Such was the determination of the Nazi hierarchy to demolish Jews even if they were going to lose the war. We read of how the SS recruited men (by freeing) criminals from German jails, suiting them up in uniforms, issuing guns and sending them to the Eastern front with the sole job of killing as many Jews as possible. This is what the Jews had to face: a monstrous killing machine led by a revolting bunch of "devils henchmen", for lack of a better term.

In the most unlikely way the brothers Bielski decided that they would fight back as partisans as well as shelter as many other Jews as possible. To do so they had to fight endless battles: some to convince meek shtetl and ghetto dwellers that hiding in the forest was better than avoiding the random killings all around.
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