Night – Historical Non Fiction Book Review

  • by

Namo Namaha, January has been a good reading month for me. Read a few 5-star and 4-star books. DNF’d a few, but, I am more happy about the quality of books I read than the quantity. For a change, I read more physical books than Audiobooks or Kindle ebooks.

This post is my thoughts on a very poignant, honest and heart-wrenching book named Night, authored by Elie Wiesel. Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor and this book is his story of the Holocaust and how he survived that horror. This post is not a review. How can you possibly review a book written on personal experiences? How can we possibly capture, gauge and judge human emotions? What parameters can we use to measure an experience?

The human race hasn’t yet developed a technique to accurately pass on personal experiences. To each his own. So I cannot possibly review an autobiography, especially one so poignant. This post is simply an attempt at laying my thoughts on this book out for you. What you do with those thoughts is up to you as always. Some rare books surpass the dualities of regular life: Like-dislike, Hate-Love, Belief-Disbelief. This tiny book is one such book. You cannot like or dislike this book. But I can assure you that you will not be able to read it and forget about it.

Originally published in Yiddish, the author’s mother tongue. It was later translated into French and subsequently to English. The book was translated to English twice, the second and better translation (according to the author) was done by his wife Marion Wiesel.

Book name – Night
Genre – Non-Fiction
Author – Elie Wiesel
Goodreads rating – 4.33

Night Synopsis

Elie Wiesel, a Jewish teenage boy from Romania was rounded up along with his family by the Nazis and was sent to the Nazi camp at Auschwitz and later transported like cattle to Buchenwald. This book is an account of his harrowing experience in the death camps and his thoughts as a Holocaust survivor.

Ruminations

Night is a tiny book, barely 115 pages but every page is dynamite. It rips your heart, it tears you up and it will make you wonder how this world survives despite such horrendous brutalities. How is the human race surviving despite the wars, plagues and 100 things that befall humanity? I cannot comment much on the book and the experiences mentioned in it because reading it is one of the most personal experiences you can have.

The author was shuttled from camp to camp. From one horror to another. He lost his family members, friends and almost came close to losing his humanity and sanity. When he survived the hell on earth, he did the one thing every survivor must ideally do. Pass on the experience as much as possible. One quote from Night will demonstrate why passing on the memory of your struggles is so important:

For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.

Another hard-hitting statement that I especially hope my Hindu brethren take to heart. Hindus have faced multiple holocausts in their land. Multiple invasions and holocausts, killing off people like flies. Yes, Hitler was a monster but everybody forgets the other monster from the same time, Winston Churchill. The death he caused in Bengal, was it any less inhumane than holocaust? Why is that not a blot on history? The dozens of manufactured riots against Hindus ( Moplah killings, Kashmiri Hindus holocaust, etc) as a result of fanaticism, why are they not discussed on the world stage? Do brown Hindu lives not matter as much?

Just as Jews, Hindus have been fighting to keep their culture, heritage, and memories alive for centuries and yet we don’t have a Holocaust memorial, our history books don’t give the actual history. Our children do not have any clue about the sacrifices their ancestors made, the atrocities they suffered and the pain they had to go through just to survive. Time and again there have been serious efforts on wiping out Jews and Hindus from the face of the earth. Both sets of people have been reduced to a tiny geographical location on earth.

The below statement, I am sure will give some food for thought for every Hindu who hasn’t yet realized that this always was, is and will be a cultural, civilizational war! A war where one side wants to wipe out the other side and the other side fights to celebrate it’s right to live.

I only know that without this testimony, my life as a writer — or my life, period— would not have become what it is: that of a witness who believes he has a moral obligation to try to prevent the enemy from enjoying one last victory by allowing his crimes to be erased from human memory.

The above sentence shook me. Amnesia lulls you into a false sense of security. It makes you believe in your delusions. As the author says it’s important to remember. Passing on the truth is more important than sparing the feelings of your progeny. History is repeated when we have not learned the lessons from it.

I have covered my book with annotations. Every statement was impactful. I especially loved the below paragraph:

I explain to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at the moment — become the center of the universe.

Conclusion

This must be a book that comes under the category of mandatory reading for high school kids if not middle school kids. Though it is a very grim tale it teaches important lessons in truth and responsibility.

Review, recommendation, and rating

Heirloom – book worth treasuring and passing on as an heirloom

Rrkreads rating Heirloom grade. A book that must be cherished and passed on to future generations.

My GoodReads rating – 5 stars

This was a difficult book to write about, but, I am glad I read and wrote about it. So, have you read this book? Are you planning to? Have you read similar or better books than this that give a glimpse into the realities of our world? If yes, and, If you like to discuss, let me know in the comments section. Till then, stay blessed and happy. Om Shanti.

Let's Discuss