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Showing 1-10 of 57 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 69 reviews
on January 19, 2012
The Rescuer is the reason I now own a Kindle. I heard Ms Horn interviewed on Vox Tablet (an excellent podcast) and then read an excerpt of The Rescuer on the Tablet website. I had to read the rest and had wanted a Kindle, so by the very next morning it had been delivered (thank you Amazon!) and The Rescuer was the first thing I downloaded and read. It is a fascinating, little known and tragic story which addresses profoundly difficult truths such as; who we choose to value (who we choose to save first - famous artists vs non famous humans), the ingratitude and boorish behavior towards their savior of some of the elites saved (painful to admit), the policy of our State Department in choosing good relations with Vichy France over saving Jews, and the reasons that the very few risked everything to save others they did not know. Highly, highly recommended.
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on June 23, 2017
Dara Horn gives a very good portrait of a young man, Varian Fry, who risked his life during WWII to rescue some of the most brilliant thinkers, artists, and writers of that time. She seeks to explore why would someone do this? Especially someone who isn't related or connected in anyway. And why did those he rescue, Chagall, Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, Franz Werfel, for example not acknowledge the part he played in bringing them to the United States. Working with another person, Le Chamlon, who also interviewed Fry, she tries to develop her theory. It is a very interesting book for anyone interested in Righteous Gentiles.
Or in this day why people go into war torn countries to work as volunteers. To be their own type of rescuers.

Dara Horn writes a fascinating essay as to why some people become rescuers, such as those who worked to save Jewish writers, composers, musicians, and artists from the Nazis, and why some do not. She explores the story of Varian Fry, a person unknown to me, who worked with the Emergency Rescue Committee in France to save such individuals as Chagall, Hannah Arendt, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Franz Werfel. She interviewed LeChambon who conducted extensive interviews of his own to find out why Fry risked his life to save others. He decided that rescuers had a strong sense of self, and they were secure, happy people. Horn questions thT
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on January 23, 2012
When I first saw Dara Horn's The Rescuer on the list of Kindle Singles I assumed it would be another telling of Schindler's List, but with a different cast of characters. I couldn't have been more wrong.

True, the essay focuses on Varian Fry, an idealist American who volunteers to travel to occupied France to help leading artists, composers, writers and intellectuals of the day escape the spreading horrors of the Nazis. But Horn goes beyond the mere facts of Fry's heroism to pose the question of what makes a "rescuer," someone who puts his own life at risk to save others. She also ponders the psychology of the rescued as well, many of whom were indifferent to Fry after their escape to America. And what about the morality of deciding who is worthy of being spared while millions of others were ground up in the Nazi death machine? Horn poses that issue also in the brief essay.

I have to admit that when Amazon first started publishing Kindle Singles I had my doubts. Who, after all, would want to purchase just an essay or short story? Now I regularly scan the titles published as Kindle Singles. I've read some fascinating pieces of journalism, essays and fiction in the Singles format and Horn's The Rescuer is one of the most provocative titles I've encountered. It resonated with me long after I had finished and left me wishing the Single could have been a far longer work. But in the meantime I will content myself with re-reading the essay, certain that when I do fresh insights will pop out at me.
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on January 29, 2012
"The Rescuer" is a partial biography by author Dara Horn. This is a Kindle e-book that was a 117 Kb download and was priced at $1.99. (free for prime members)

This is a true story of Varian Fry, an american who was sent into Marseille, France in 1940 to try to rescue intellectuals from then Nazi occupied France. Marseille unoccupied, but was controlled during this time by the Vichy government who ruled under the direct thumb of Nazi occupied northern France. Varian Fry and his associates at the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC) during thier time of operation (1940-41), were able to save 2000 people from extermination in German concentration camps.

What is somewhat unusual about the story is that almost no one knows of this man, despite his deeds of heroics. It was author's intent to discover why... she talked to several people and read as many articles and interviews she could find to try to glean a little more information about this man and his life (before, during and after the war).
Some revealing findings about his personality... it appeared that Fry was difficult to get along with most people and as a result had few friends, had a labile temperament, had trouble holding jobs (when at home) both before and after the war, and had two unsuccessful marriages.

In her investigation she is confronted with some disturbing facts.

1.) the premise of the ERC was to try to save the intellectuals... prevent the best brains in Europe from falling into the wrong hands. Most of who were classified as undesirables, and were thus destined for extermination. As a result many 'normal' people were rejected from being 'saved' because they weren't famous enough.

2.) the lack of gratitude on part of those saved towards the 'rescuers'. Many interviews of now famous and successful persons who were rescued, when asked about this period of their lives, consistently omit the merest mention of this feat of heroics or a simple thank-you to those that risked their lives for them.
One can only surmise that his (Fry's) unpopularity, his general unlike-ability must have rubbed off on those being rescued in some way. But still, it's hard to believe that you could so annoy those you were saving that they'd completely forget you afterwards. Yet the facts remain, and this 'trend' of forgetting him, somehow speaks volumes.

3.) and maybe most revealing, at least about Varian Fry own story, was the fact that there appeared to be more than just 'righteous' intentions in his desire of leading the ERC in their rescue efforts. Apparently he'd volunteered for the job so he could associate with those intellectuals and artists who he really admired. He felt his period in Nazi controlled France in the early 1940s was the best time of his life. It's as if he was doing all the right things, but not necessarily for all the right reasons.

Cover Art...rather simplistic, yet somehow completely appropriate and effective for the telling of the tale found between the covers.

An interesting account of one of WWII little known rescuers. In addition to providing some intriguing facts on this unusual man, we learn many tidbits that give us some insights into the political goings-on of this era.

As it is...5 Stars

Ray Nicholson
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Dara Horn has written a fascinating essay about one of the heroes of World War II, a man credited with saving over 2,000 Jews and provided behind-the-scenes guidance to the Roosevelt administration's 1944 rescue program, the War Refugee Board.

I was struck by three key points:

1. Fry focused on saving intellectuals, artists and writers, in an effort to save those who had given him personal pleasure and, perhaps, to establish a personal relationship with them.

2. In this, according to Horn, Fry was generally disappointed; many of the survivors treated their experiences as a lark, a youthful adventure, and rarely expressed gratitude, either soon after their arrival in the United States or many years later when they were interviewed in their 80s.

3. Finally, it is something of a puzzle about why Fry took the risks that he did. Horn does seem judgmental in certain respects, that perhaps his desire to associate and help intellectuals and artists who he admired was not a "good" reason for doing so. Tough call, that -- are good deeds made "bad" if one doesn't agree with the motivation of the rescuer?

This essay could have been improved by a list of the major resources Horn relied on in preparing her essay. She mentions private papers and interviews, but Fry did write about his experiences in a book published under two different names: Surrender on Demand and Assignment: Rescue : An Autobiography (Point). I would have liked to have read what reasons, if any, Fry gave in his book.

Also, it isn't entirely true that Fry was totally forgotten: he received a number of honors over the years:

1967 -- Legion of Honor from France.

1980 -- Mary Jayne Gold's 1980 book titled Crossroads Marseilles, 1940 emphasized his contributions.

1995 -- first United States citizen as "Righteous among the Nations" at Israel's national Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem.

1998 -- given "Commemorative Citizenship of the State of Israel".

1997 -- David Kerr made a documentary entitled "Varian Fry: The America's Schindler" [not offered on Amazon] narrated by actor Sean Barrett.

2001 -- Barbra Streisand co-produced the made-for-television motion picture, Varian's War, written and directed by Lionel Chetwynd and starring William Hurt and Julia Ormond.

Among those that Fry helped are:

Hannah Arendt
Jean Arp
Hans Aufricht
Hans Bellmer
Georg Bernhard
Victor Brauner
André Breton
Camille Bryen
De Castro
Marc Chagall
Frédéric Delanglade
Óscar Domínguez
Marcel Duchamp
Heinrich Ehrmann
Max Ernst
Edvard Fendler
Lion Feuchtwanger

A longer list appears on Wikipedia.

Fry is certainly not forgotten, and this essay joins a distinguished list of memorials to his contributions and to his memory.

Robert C. Ross
May 2012
Revised March 2015
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on January 16, 2017
Yehuda Kurtzer mentioned this work at today's Conference on Jews and Muslims in NYC.

I thought I'd take a look. I could not stop reading it. Admittedly it i short. However brief it may be Dara Horn has brought to light a story which must be more widely known, that of Varian Fy.

The echoes of this story for our time are powerful as we live in a times when they world is again flooded with refugees seeking asylum. Read Dara Horn "The Rescuer." I dare you to do so and remain indifferent to one of the great challenges of our time.
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on July 23, 2014
This is a short, exceedingly well-written essay that does many things. It stirs the heart with the true tale of a hero who acted against a backdrop of brutality and death. It is a damning, if subtle, critique of many artists' frivolity and ungratefulness--grounded on a half-redeeming psychological analysis on the humiliation of being rescued. It moves the reader to reflect on the nature of heroism and the possible virtues of emotional instability, which are often most identifiable in extreme situations such as those of war and persecution. (Paraphrasing one of the author's interviewees, if the protagonist had had access to Prozac in the 1920s, would this book even exist?) Finally, the essay moves the reader to reflect on the terrible question of which lives were most worthy of being saved, morally and "civilizationally", during the Holocaust; the "luminaries" whose moral behavior allegedly left a lot to be desired, or the everyday men and women, philosophers and scholars, whose lives perhaps more congruently reflected the humanist values of European enlightenment.
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on December 28, 2012
The Rescuer is a fascinating take, not only on Varian Fry, but on the whole topic of "righteous Gentiles.". I have no reservations about the risk and the value of the work of Varian Fry. He was abandoned by our own government once the Vichy became the ruling body in France. Fry had a list of important Jewish intellectual icons to smuggle out of Nazi Europe. His intent was to save European civilization. He acted in many ways against his own self interest. Yet I had never heard of him, and no movie ever told his story. In fact the very people he saved turned their backs on him once established safely in America.

Horn raises several interesting points for me. She notes that in the Yiddish literature of the doomed Jewish population, there are no contemplations of the bravery of rescuers. Therebisnonly mourning, anger, and disbelief for the loss of a people. The story of rescuers is is a Hollywood story in which the brave and good are seen in resolution.

Why did the list to be saved only invoke the shining stars? Why did the nations of the world collude in the slaughter? Contrary to protestations, we did know and we could have done something.

Finally, what makes a rescuer? My favorite comment in the book was that rescuers do not think of themselves as heroes. They tell you honestly that the only choice was the one they took. This book is not fun to read, but itis thoughtful and well documented. Bear witness.
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A Kindle Single is a short noteworthy Amazon article, in this case approximately 43 pages long and a true story of a young American man who risked his life in 1940-1941 wartime France to rescue as many as 2,000 Jewish artists, writers, musicians and scientists from the hands of the Nazis. His name was Varian Fry and he was non-Jew and a Harvard graduate. Often, he had to make hard choices as to who to save and the trip over the mountains was fraught with danger for them all.

Eventually, his activities were discovered and he had to flee Europe. After that his life took a downward turn and he was never recognized for his work from either the government or from the artists he rescued and who later prospered and received accolades for their work in America, such as Marcel Duchamp, Hannah Arendt and Marc Chagall. Not one of these prominent people mention him in any autobiography and when, at the end of his life he asked Mark Chagall for a small piece of his work, he was reluctantly given a piece but Mark Chagall never signed it, thereby reducing its value.

The author of his book did extensive research for this piece and her discoveries display a troubled man who lived a troubled life and never received recognition for his work. This piece brings him out of the shadows however, and now, years after his death, his wartime contribution is finally being acknowledged.

This is a fine piece, well written and full of interesting history.
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on November 12, 2012
This book shows that Dara Horn is not only a great writer but a profound explainer of the essense of Judaism. Although the editorial reviews highlight the " Rightous Gentile" meme, the real heart of her work is that Western culture puts arts and intellectualism on a pedestal. Mr. Fry, the article's subject, went to France to save famous artists. Horn asks the deeper question: why did no one try to save all those Jews whose culture revolved around how to live a holy, just and ethical life? It reminds me of today when even Jews do not know the true value of Judaism. Judaism is treated like an old antique that they put out in the trash or sells at a yard sale for $1.00, but someone who knows true value takes it to the Antiques Road Show where it is valued at a MIllion Dollars! This work of Dara Horn should be disseminated to every school person so we can begin to understand the incredble value and worth of the Jewish tradition. Signed, Charlotte H.
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