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Taking Risks: A Jewish Youth in the Soviet Partisans and His Unlikely Life in California Paperback – January 26, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This memoir is not only a story out of the Holocaust... It is, in fact, much more sweeping, taking us from the Polish countryside to postwar Germany and America..., we gain invaluable insight into some of the secrets of modern Jewish suffering and survival. --David Baile, Professor of Jewish History, Univ.of California, Davis, and editor of Cultures of the Jews

A powerful story about a powerful man, Joe Pell, gives new meaning to the word survivor. --DEBORAH E. LIPSTADT, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, Emory University; author of History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier

From the Publisher

Copublished with the Western Jewish History Center of the Judah L. Magnes Museum, Taking RIsks, related in a a taut and vivid style, is a story of loss and torment but also daring, ingenuity and uncommon resilience. A remarkable account of the largely unhearalded Partisan Movement that was critical to the Soviet war effort to stop the Nazis, Taking Risks is the fascinating story of a modest man who became a remarkable hero. This book will appeal to students of European History, Judaica and World War II. It is a valuable document that will be welcomed in the classroom, the library and on any history bookshelf. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Wicker Park Press Ltd (January 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0978967690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0978967697
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,670,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. P. Grimsdale on August 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read this just after having finished The Kite Runner, which is an extraordinary novel about survival in an imploding society, based on the experiences of the writer. Taking Risks is not a novel. It the true story of one man's survival in impossible conditions. It is modest, extremely frank and utterly gripping.

So much has been written about the Holocaust experience yet this account feels entirely fresh. Towards the end of the book, Mr Pell says he regrets not getting more formal education. But I suspect the almost unnervingly straightforward manner in which the story is told owes much to the author's gift for observation and natural intuition - the intuition that helped him survive in war-ravaged Poland and Germany and excell in his adopted country of America.

Pell, a teenager at the time of the Nazi invasion of Poland evades capture and finds himself in forest, where he joins with other fugitives from the occupation forces. His account of life among the itinerant band of partisans he joins serves as a fascinating insight into how people organise themselves when society has completely broken down. The skills he has developed growing up in a rural community, qualify him very well for the challenges of survival that he faces (far better than the educated urban folk who are also on the run). Through his natural good judgement and his finely developed instincts about human nature he appears to thrive in this fractured world. He doesn't dwell on the tragedy that he has to live with - the loss of all his family - but the sense of his own good fortune is always tempered by that memory. And in a quiet way this resonates throughout the account.

Anyone seeking reassurance about the human spirit and its capacity for survival will find it here.
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Format: Paperback
What sets this book apart from all others is that here is a true story of a man who witnessed the holocaust and fought with the underground. In vivid clarity, the author tells his story giving you not only the facts but the thoughts, the emotions and the graphic details that make this a book that cannot be read in spurts - it must be read in one sitting. And it is a story that you'll never, ever forget.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The character of Joseph Pell shines in this almost unbelievable tale of courage, honesty and optimism? How are such characters forged? The book is riveting, read in one sitting. The personal integrity of the hero, and he is indeed a hero, not for his partisan feats, but for his personal insights about the entirety of his life which he forcefully shares as a legacy for his children and his readers. Pell's hopeful and positive persona seems finally to have become integrated with the sharp knife's edge of rage, emanating from the destruction of his life in Poland as he knew it, that led to his outcome as a Mensch; wise, successful, worldly, experienced, kind and a family man. Mazeltov to Pell with thanks to Rosenbaum for making the story available.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Best of the WWII memiors I've read; perhaps because of the great talent of the ghost writer, but certainly due to the greater story of Pell's life and what he made of it. Exciting and informative, a book that finishes fast and ends too soon.
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An incredible read. Pell is an immigrant who developed neighborhoods in Marin County, California, north of the Golden Gate Bridge. A lot of the homes in Marin. He came here with nothing from a devastated Europe after the second world war, started with an ice cream store - very inspiring. Worth reading.

It taught me you it can be better to start with nothing or to go broke and start over because you have to learn how to do it, and you learn you CAN do it, so you do.
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