If you haven’t yet seen the Oscar-winning Spielberg film Schindler’s List, you absolutely must. It’s a heart-wrenching story of a German who used his power, influence, and charisma to save over a thousand Jews from the Holocaust. This book by Thomas Keneally is the source for that fantastic movie, and I have to say that in some respects, the book is even better.
First of all, although Oskar Schindler’s story is told in the style of a novel, none of it is made up. Schindler’s flaws and virtues are equally discussed, and stories which may be apocryphal are noted as such. Keneally got his information from the group of Schindler’s Jews and from documentation of the time. I found this even more compelling than the movie, which (of necessity) had to add to and subtract from the facts in order to make the story flow.
Unlike the movie, this book didn’t make me sob. I did tear up a few times–who doesn’t, reading about the horrors of the Holocaust?–but it wasn’t quite as emotional. But I think that’s a good thing. Because the book sticks to the facts and doesn’t attempt to tell a sweeping story, the characters and events described get a chance to stand out individually. Schindler was a fascinating guy who used his charm and his connections with the black market to save people he had no connection with, and I loved getting to know him as a real person.
Some of the stories in this book just seem unreal. Many of the events are so brutal, so random, that it hardly seems like they could have happened in real life–but they did. Schindler’s List isn’t a fun read, exactly, but it is a fascinating and chilling and, in the end, hopeful look at one of the darkest times in history. Whether or not you’ve seen the movie, this book is worth a read.
Rating: Pretty Darn Good