“Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it” - a saying so well-known that it almost engenders a yawn. When recommending books of historical interest I’d rather use the Oscar Wilde quote: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Readers who like to burrow into a book, be given a chance to experience the curves and swerves of human experience, be “educated” with every turn of a page are offered this chance with the recent release of two solidly researched, compiled, and edited books.
In the Shadow of the Red Banner, by Yitzhak Arad is the fascinating historical record of the part Soviet Jewry played in the war against Nazi Germany. I, for one, will admit to ignorance about this aspect of WW II. The research is impressive and Arad’s ability to gather the facts and the atmosphere into one coherent picture is worthy of accolades. This is not a watered-down quick read but read in sections it is illuminating – I would even dare to say that one can choose chapters of more immediate interest and enjoy the book in a user-friendly manner. If you’re interested in the more intriguing facets of the history of WW II, this book is highly recommended.
(Published by Gefen Publishing House / Yad Vashem, Jerusalem)
If diaries, journals and memoirs that reveal the unaltered, dare I say gossipy aspect of history are the kind of books you are drawn to, Peace in the Making (The Menachem Begin-Anwar El-Sadat Personal Correspondence) is a book that will definitely interest you. It is a breathtaking collection of letters, transcripts of speeches, press conferences, interviews, photos and official documents. The echoes of the two men resound throughout this book and laid bare are the intricacies of the relationship forged between them and the courageous path they finally took leading two nations to peace with the historic agreement they signed. The two editors, Harry Hurwitz and Yisrael Medad, of this compilation are to be complimented for an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of this watershed moment. Whether you were in Israel when this all happened or at another point on the globe, this book deserves to be on your bookshelf.
(Published by Gefen Publishing House/ Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Jerusalem)
Pnina Kass is the author of children's books (BERALE series/Hebrew/KETER) and of the prizewinning novel, REAL TIME (English/Clarion-Houghton Mifflin). Originally from the U.S., she has been in Israel 44 years. www.pninamoedkass.com