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The Last of the Just
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on January 16, 2017
A beautifully woven story about a family of Just Men. I wasn't aware of the Talmudic tradition of the "Lamed-Vov," which is portrayed in a fictional, though no less mysterious and sacred, account of the men of the Levy family. We learn of the history of the family, its traditions and its colorful characters in their eastern European beginnings, as they migrate westward into Germany for economic opportunity, and further, harsher journeys eastward by necessity and force.

The characters made an indelible mark--I smiled at their eccentricities, the beauty in their flaws. Their strength in faith in the face of atrocity moved me to tears. I heard about this book on Dennis Prager's radio show...he made a passing comment, but something made me write the title down. I'm so glad I did, for it's a book that will forever remain etched in the moral part of my brain, and the innermost confines of my heart. It's a rare book that I've finished and felt changed...this is such a book.

The Kindle edition (as I purchased) has a few flaws--some inconsistencies in casing most often. The most confusing (but still discernible) error is that of the female name "Ilse" which distorts to "Use" at some points in the text. E-books can be buggy, but it hardly mars this story.
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on August 17, 2013
I just finished reading this beautiful novel, crying and I am once reminded how almost impossible is to accept, understand, grasp : yes, indeed, an Holocaust occurred in our mist.

I discovered this novel through an Holocaust online class offered by Coursera.org (can't recommend it enough!).

This is a very unique novel enrapt of figurative narrative giving a tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.

How did the author accomplish such mission? By sharing the legacy of a Jewish family, the Levys, from the 12th Century up the end of WWII. Through the epic story of their ancestors, the author clearly portrays the Jewish culture, their customs, their beliefs and what they go through up until the Holocaust. We witness how the Levy family suffers through several persecutions (pogroms from Eastern Russia, Poland, Germany); the injustices of antisemitics agenda, the involvement of the Hitler Youth group in the school system and so on. But most importantly, what makes this novel a piece of art of its own, is the quest to determine the reasons of the Jews' fate. Why do the Jews have to suffer all these misfortunes? Why the hate? Why the Holocaust? I don't want to state the reasons here, you have to read this novel to discover them.

Reading this novel to me, was like listening to a symphony full of beauty, strong feelings, sensing the suffering yet being a song from the soul of human heart.

I can't recommend this novel enough. Be open-minded, it's a unique novel. Give it a try.
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on January 27, 2014
I purchased the book from a very fine seller. The book arrived in better than expected condition. Sadly, a number of the last pages were missing. The seller told me they wanted to refund my money so that was good of them.

As for the content, it was excellent. I wish I could have read this book in the original Yiddish but as my Yiddish is nearly non-existent, I was happy for the fine English translation.

As usual, with books that have to do with the Pogroms and the Shoah, it never ceases to shock me at how many times the Jews (and others) are run out, rounded up, arrested, murdered or accused of crimes they did not commit. Their children are bullied by school mates and also by the authorities that they should be able to trust. This book was no different. I am happy that I read this fine work and would encourage people who enjoy a well-written novel to make the purchase.
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on November 6, 2016
It's hard to say I "liked" this book. It was a painful read at times. I did find the translation left something to be desired, but overall the translator had a difficult task. There were times I wanted to give up. It's not like I didn't know how the book would end. What made this book different from other holocaust literature was that it focused on the lead-up to the Nazi regime, and it increased my understanding of what a Jew in that era might have experienced, long before entering an extermination camp. I would imagine that in 2016 this book is not attracting a lot of readers, but I'm sure in its time it was eye-opening.
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on January 10, 2018
A profound examination of Jewish history and identity through a quasi-mythological appproach.
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on August 26, 2017
Powerful. Like Wouk's great work of WWII it brings you the horrors of the final solution. This is a must read.
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on January 7, 2014
I have read much of the Holocaust literature,, both fiction and non-fiction. This is one of the finest written books I have read. It is well written and evocative. At times the book is most painful to read but it certainly captures the ongoing horror over the centuries of being Jewish and the scapegoat of many cultures.
I would recomend it to anyone who is interested in the life of Jews in Eastern Europe.
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on February 14, 2013
This book is long, and can be very hard to read, but I have read it four or five times now; each new reading brings something that I didn't see before, or I understand it in a different way. Of all the books with the Holocaust as the central theme tht I have read, this one stands out as almost unique; it's hard to compare it to any other book, but I have recommended it to so many people I have lost count, since I first read it when my husband lent me his copy, which he had when I met him in 1969. , It isn't for the faint of heart, but real books about real people going through literally hell are rarely easy to read.
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on July 7, 2016
too long since I read it - maybe 30 years. possibly my first book about the Holocaust. the title refers to the theme, which is magisterial: in every generation there are a very "just" men - only nobody knows who they are, not even the men themselves. the book leaves you praying that you yourself may be one of the (hidden) just.
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on August 29, 2013
Gives one insight into the reasons for Jewish non-violence in the face of the Holocaust. Also provides understanding of Jewish beliefs that the innocent never suffer due to the presence of 36 just men in the world at all times, though a reader concludes that the title of the book stems from the author's perception that Ernie Levy, the protagonist, was the last of the just men, that the horrors of the Holocaust led inextricably to a Jewish state that would be prepared to defend itself.
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