Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hope and Lessons for Living

The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage
The dark cloud of disaster can't hide the brilliant light of joy and altruism in the human spirit. Somedays I don't turn on the news; it's too depressing to bear. But in this book, author Mark Klempner gazes unflinchingly at one of the blackest episodes in human history . . . and finds there hope and lessons for living.

Klempner interviewed ten of the "Righteous Gentiles": people who risked all to save Jewish children from the Nazis. A folklorist and oral historian, Klempner lets his subjects take center stage and tell their stories in their own words. This is precious documentation of the experiences of a generation that is passing on.

As counterpoint, Klempner relates the autobiographical saga of his own search for an ethical compass. This journey led him from the amoral canyons of the Los Angeles music scene to explore his Jewish immigrant roots in Europe. Klempner also includes historical and political essays that place the individual stories in the context of world events. The narratives are not homogenized into a smooth package. Think of these gems as displayed in their natural state, not cut and mounted so as to preserve the authenticity of the historical record.

To sum up, this book contains:
  • Fascinating true stories, very accessible to the casual reader.
  • Primary source historical material, lovingly preserved.
  • Troubling questions about ethics, psychology and the meaning of life; pat answers not included.
  • Inspiration, and proof that in the face of the most horrifying threats imaginable, some people will step forth and risk all to do the right thing.

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