Night  Night by Elie Wiesel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m doing a booktalk for the Friends of the Library on Saturday. Thought I’d build the talk around Tolstoy’s War and Peace (which I still intend to finish reading some day!) and then expand on all the World War II books that have come out lately like Suite Francaise, The Guernsey Literary…Society, Sarah’s Key, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Book Thief, etc. This one is a staple of high school required reading lists, and it is short but eloquent. I listened to the book on CD which included the new preface and Wiesel’s acceptance speech on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I was especially struck by this comment in the preface: “I am not so naive as to believe that this slim volume will change the course of history or shake the conscience of the world. Books no longer have the power they once did.” Is that true? – Surely books still have the power to change and/or to inspire individuals. That book for me growing up was Vinzi by Johanna Spyri about a boy overcoming his father’s disapproval and prejudice to follow his dream of becoming a musician, and of the power of music to heal lives. But I digress…
Do you agree? Have books lost their power in today’s world?

Description: Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie’s wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author’s original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.