Thursday, April 17, 2008

Joshua and Isadora by Michael Benanav

While I am sitting here in the JFK airport in New York waiting for my flight to Bermuda, I need to tell everyone about my friend Michael Benanav's new book, 'Joshua and Isadora: A True Tale of Loss and Love in the Holocaust'. It's an incredible true story about how his grandparents escaped the Holocaust. Michael also wrote one of my favorite books of all time, Men of Salt, which is about Michael's trek across the Sahara desert on camel researching the ancient salt trade of Africa. Michael writes for the New York Times frequently, and was recently caught in China during the fiasco that ensued with the Tibetan people. He has a knack of getting into interesting situations, and his books always explain everything beautifully. Here is a bit of the story from the new book, which just came out:

“Joshua and Isadora: A True Tale of Loss and Love in the Holocaust" is about my grandparents’ experiences during World War II; it recounts the twists of fate, both tragic and miraculous, that enabled them to survive as their families perished, and serendipitously placed them on the deck of a refugee boat at the exact same moment, where they first met while escaping from Eastern Europe in December, 1944. With no common language between them, they married three days later. Through the lenses of their lives, the book delves into some lesser-known chapters of the Holocaust: the deportation by forced march of Romanian Jews into a frozen slice of Ukraine called Transnistria, which my grandmother – then a teenager – somehow endured; and the slave labor units in which Hungarian Jews, including my grandfather, were forced to serve. The book follows them into Palestine, where my grandfather became an agent in the Irgun, a radical wing of the Jewish Underground that fought the British for Israeli independence.

This book has been a long time in coming. I first interviewed my grandparents about their lives over ten years ago – in the interim, I spent countless hours with them, coaxing out details, getting new stories after I thought I’d heard everything they had to tell. But I think patience paid off, in the depth that their stories acquired over the years."

You can find Michael's book at your local book store or by clicking here.
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