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The Last of the Just (Library of the Holocaust) Hardcover – August, 1996

4.6 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Schwarz-Bart's 1959 novel is a chronicle of Jewish persecution beginning in England in 1105 and ending with the Holocaust. This book was a huge hit when first released, eventually being translated into several languages. It is both a historical document and a compelling piece of fiction.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Has the inspiration, the strength and the poetic feeling to make it unique."  -- Sunday Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of the Holocaust
  • Hardcover: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Fine Communications; Reprint edition (August 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567311407
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567311402
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
...and that's no exaggeration.
This was assigned reading for a class on the Holocaust that I took as an elective in college many moons ago. Once I got around to reading it (near the end of the semester, of course), I was completely unable to put it down. I started it on Good Friday and read straight through the weekend. It shattered me. I was flat out weeping as I read that final page late on Easter Sunday (which, as a non-Jew, spun me around into a whole different perspective). I've been teary-eyed over a good book or two, but I had never read (nor have I since) any book that moved or affected me so profoundly.
I find it hard to string together an adequate sentence to describe this book. I can only come up with images...vast, timeless, dream-like, sometimes surreal, but totally human and earthbound at the same time. Gently funny, lush, warm and tender, fluid, truly poetic, painful, pure, sacred, prayer-like. Schwarz-Bart is a master, a pied piper, and this book is a piece of literary art. Five stars just doesn't cover it.
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Format: Paperback
OK, you've read many holocaust books, probably seen several movies, been there, done that.
This one is different, and different in so many ways that you'll never believe you've read one before.
Of course there are not many that start the story in 1105, that's different. There are not many that try to fix the story in a context that is greater than the ending. This one does that, and makes it so strong that you can not put it down.
First the context, the myth if you will. There are in the world 36 `just men' that take on the suffering of the world, that are the reasons God allows the world to continue. There are among these men, some number of `unknown just' who see the world differently from most of us. That when one of these `unknown just' dies his soul is so cold that God must hold him in his fingers for a thousand years so that he can open to paradise.
Ernie Levy is one of those men. A thousand years of history, two thousand years of suffering are all concentrated in the story of one boy, the movement of a family from Poland, to Germany, to France, to extermination. It's all so simple. It's all so wonderfully told. The story of a people, the story of a family, the story of a man, the story of the twentieth century, all in so few pages.
I hope you'll take the time to read it.
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Format: Hardcover
Difficult to describe and impossible to forget, this book takes us out of whatever 'normal' world we inhabit and casts us into the horror of the Nazi's 'final solution'. The story of a young Jewish boy - the 'last of the Just' - is so powerful, so full of pain and confusion, so beautifully written, so honestly realized, that the reader will never be able to forget it. The last section alone, where the names of all the death camps are listed, in the midst of a kind of elegy, is among the most moving pieces of prose I have ever read.
Read this book. It will change you and stay with you when everything else you have read about the holocaust is forgotten.
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Format: Paperback
In this classic of 1959 André Schwarz-Bart reworks the Jewish legend of the Lamed Vavs, the handful (36 in most versions of the story) of Just or Righteous Men who live among the Jews in every generation and who provide the merit on which the world depends. The tradition dates back to the 5th century Babylonian Talmud. It was elaborated by kabbalistic Jews in the 16th and 17th century and by hasidic Jews in the 18th century: the Lamed Vavs are humble men and unnoticed as special by their fellow Jews. At times of great peril, so this version has it, "a Lamed Vavnik makes a dramatic appearance, using his hidden powers to defeat the enemies of Israel" (Encyclopedia Judaica).

Schwarz-Bart was born in France and lost most of the members of his family in the Holocaust. His will not have been the first persecuted Jew in history to question whether any Lamed Vav has ever arisen to defeat the enemies of Israel. He retains the idea that he will be humble and unknown, but he totally subverts the idea that he can be a saviour. Instead his role is to offer to God his own martyrdom for his faith and for his people.

Schwarz-Bart imagines the story of the Levys, one family in which the role of the Just Man was hereditary. They have suffered death down the ages, beginning with the massacre of the Jews of York in 1185. In later generations this wandering Jewish family suffers at the hands of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions; they are expelled from one area after another; the Cossacks add their contribution; and when we come to the late 19th century, the family leaves its home in Zemyock in Russian Poland and settles in Germany.
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Format: Paperback
The legend of the Thirty- Six Just Men , the Lamed Vov whose righteousness sustains the world is at the heart of this work. It traces a family of such Just Men through generations of suffering, and climaxes with Ernie Levy, the Last of the Just whose sufferings in the Shoah( Holocaust) bring the story to a climax and an end. The powerful and painfully poetic conclusion of this story is one of the most moving in Literature. In one sense it might be said that the work presents a one- sided view of Jewish history. But it does tell the story of Jewish suffering through the generations and in the Shoah with incredible compassion and feeling. And it arouses in the reader too a deep identification and sympathy with that history, and with the story and ongoing life of the Jewish people.
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