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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Isaac's Army: A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland
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on May 3, 2013
I am an 85-year old survivor. My story is almost the same as Anne Frank's. (She lived a block from us in Amsterdam.)
When we were ordered deported in July, 1942, we went into hiding. Six months later, we were arrested and thrown
into prison awaiting the next transport. After three days we were separated. I was fourteen and never saw my parents
again. They were murdered in Sobibor and Lublin.
I managed to escape three times and went from one hiding place to another. I was liberated in Limburg, in the
Southern province of Holland. My last hiding place was on a farm which was requisitioned as a temporary headquarters
of a Wehrmacht entity. The Germans were in retreat. I stayed in plain sight, pretending to be the son of a German mother
and a Dutch father. I was there when the officers celebrated the surrender of the Warsaw uprising. A few days later the
Wehrmacht departed. A few more days later, around October 14, I was liberated by scouting tanks of the Second
Armor Division, "Hell on Wheels".
When I read this book, I wept.
34 people found this helpful
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on October 21, 2012
There are many books on the atrocities that occurred in Warsaw during World War II. This book, by a non-Jew, nicely ties together accounts and stories about not only the sufferings and courage of Jews in the Ghetto, but also the heroism, sacrifice, and perfidy or their Polish neighbors. The stories of the Jewish resistance fighters are riveting, but I have read very little about the righteous gentiles who helped hide them and arm them-- that to me was the new view offered by this book. Matthew Brzezinski also tells the story in a way that left me wondering form nearly the beginning whether I would have had the courage to leave my family and fight, or if I was Polish, to help Jews knowing discovery of such aid would mean death for me and maybe my family. The book ends with an interesting comment on that which I will leave for anyone fortunate enough to read it. It is an engaging read, and I can't recommend it enough.
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on October 4, 2017
In cinematic detail, Isaac's Army brings to life the period of death, destruction, survival and resistance that was wartime Warsaw under the Nazi occupation. In telling this history, Matthew Brzezinski masterfully weaves together the stories of half a dozen Jews, four of whom played key roles in the organized resistance. These stories might well have been lost had the author not been able to track down and interview those still living a decade ago with first-hand knowledge and intact memory of these events. The oral histories the book is based on alone make a major contribution to Holocaust studies. But the narrative goes well beyond transcriptions of witness testimonies recollected decades after the events. Equal parts tragedy and heroism to an unfathomable extent, it is as thrilling to read as was (in my faded recollection) Hersey's fictional account of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in The Wall or any of the WWII spy/resistance novels by Allen Furst, who provided his own laudatory review of this book ("told with care and compassion ... riveting account ... an intense story that transcends the horror of the time and finds real inspiration in the history of those who fought back ...").
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on September 20, 2013
An excellent researched and documented book that even at this late date in time, seven decades later, it is still most relevant. It is relevant because at the time it was researched in this early twenty-first century, many of the Warsaw leaders of that time were still alive except for Issac Zuckerman and his wife. Over the last couple of years, alas, most of them, if not all, have died. But their story and their experience is detailed, beautifully by the author, Matthew Brzezinski. There is much to learn and understand in retrospect about the German's-Nazi's actions and behavior during that time. And also, how Israel was populated, needed, and formed. It is very much connected in this story and experience. Ninety-five percent of Warsaw's buildings and streets during WWII were burned, or completely destroyed. There is not much to see of the old neighborhood today. The city has been entirely rebuilt, with multimillion dollar housing, apartments. This book is a page-turner, completely lose yourself in this gripping story of survival. I highly recommend
it and to share with others what you've learned. The lessons here are not unique to modern or present day holocausts, it has happened over and over again.
3 people found this helpful
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on December 7, 2015
Isaac's Army: A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland by Matthew Brzezinski should not be considered a definitive history of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Brzezinski does not try to handle the full sweep of events of the Uprising, nor does he give us a picture of the entire spectrum of people involved. Rather, he zooms in on some leaders of the movement, examines some Jews who escaped Warsaw altogether and lived in hiding or in convents. Finally, he handles, in great detail, the Warsaw Uprising by the Polish Home Army as the Russian army approached from the east.

So, this is not the definitive book; rather, it is a well-written, smooth slice of the topic.
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on December 4, 2015
Excellent book! Real people telling about the Warsaw Ghetto and the uprising. Hard to believe anyone survived this ordeal. I'm glad they told their story. Mr. Brzezinski did a good thing to get it all down. Hard for younger people to believe. I found it interesting how much time was spent just trying to find guns or weapons to use. Maybe a lesson. There were people who wanted to fight the Nazis but pretty hard without weapons.
One person found this helpful
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on February 12, 2013
Having just returned from a visit to Warsaw, Krakow and Auschwitz, Brzezinski's book was so on point and so very important. Even though the book focuses on Warsaw for the most part, it sheds light on the entire horror of the Holocaust, betrayals and brutality, heroism and uncanny bravery. It was heart wrenching in so many ways, that surviving the death camps didn't mean it was all over. The brutality continued, the greed, the rape, the horror. However, in spite of this, some brave souls survived, fighting for their personal and collective freedom.

As a Jewess, it connected me deeply to my people, but also to our absolute obligation to grant freedom and statehood to our neighbors.

The book is outstanding, and is a must read for all.
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on October 22, 2012
I agree with all the earlier reviewers of this powerful book. I have always been interested in Jewish resistance to the Nazis and this adds immeasurably to my understanding. A fair amount has been written about the rebellions at the Treblinka and Sobibor death camps but there hasn't been much about the Jewish rebellion in Warsaw, besides Leon Uris' highly romanticized novel.

I also agree with the criticisms about the lack of maps. I am not on the Amazon Vine and the only map is inside the covers, where it's split by the binding and very hard to read. Due to the destruction, it may be hard to determine just where certain streets were but there must be some pre-war maps out there somewhere. The author went to so much trouble to find and interview survivors and I wish he had continued on and found some maps, and maybe pre-war photos.

In any case, if you are at all interested, get this book, preferably at a time when you don't have too many demands on your time.
4 people found this helpful
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on October 15, 2015
Moving, well written account of the 1943 Ghetto Uprising & the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Mr Brzezinski cleverly describes events beginning with Hitler's invasion of Poland on September 1st, that are based on survivor's current recollections. He chronicles daily, sometimes hourly the terrible suffering & heroism of Poland's Jews and Gentiles under the horrible German Nazi occupation. The book covers a phase of World War II that is too often neglected. It will be of interest to anyone wishing to understand the power politics that ignored the Holocaust, led to the Allied betrayal of Poland & coming of the Cold War.
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on March 25, 2018
What a well written book. A very strong representation of what went on during that tragic time. A profoundly honest book. We all need to remember this tragic period to ensure it never happens again. BRAVO TO THE AUTHOR!
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