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The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews

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The inspiring and harrowing true story of three brothers who established a hidden base camp in the Belorussian forest eluding the Nazi's extensive efforts to capture them. In July 1944, after two and a half years in the woods, more than one thousand Jewish men, women and children, emerged from the woods triumphant and alive. It is one of the most remarkable dramas of World The inspiring and harrowing true story of three brothers who established a hidden base camp in the Belorussian forest eluding the Nazi's extensive efforts to capture them. In July 1944, after two and a half years in the woods, more than one thousand Jewish men, women and children, emerged from the woods triumphant and alive. It is one of the most remarkable dramas of World War II -- untold until now. In 1941, three young men -- brothers, sons of a miller -- witnessed their parents and two other siblings being led away to their eventual murders. It was a grim scene that would, of course, be repeated endlessly throughout the war. What makes this particular story of interest is how the survivors responded. Instead of running or capitulating or giving in to despair, these brothers -- Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski -- did something else entirely. They fought back, waging a guerrilla war of wits and cunning against both the Nazis and the pro-Nazi sympathizers. Along the way they saved well over a thousand Jewish lives. Using their intimate knowledge of the dense forests surrounding the Belorussian towns of Novogrudek and Lida, the Bielskis evaded the Nazis and established a hidden base camp, then set about convincing other Jews to join their ranks. When the Nazis began systematically eliminating the local Jewish populations -- more than ten thousand were killed in the first year of the Nazi occupation alone -- the Bielskis intensified their efforts, often sending fighting men into the ghettos to escort Jews to safety. As more and more Jews arrived each day, a robust community began to emerge, a "Jerusalem in the woods." They slept in camouflaged dugouts built into the ground. Lovers met, were married, and conceived children. The community boasted a synagogue, a bathhouse, a theater, and cobblers so skilled that Russian officers would wait in line to have their boots reshod. But as its notoriety grew, so too did the Nazi efforts to capture the rugged brothers; and on several occasions they came so near to succeeding that the Bielskis had to abandon the camp and lead their massive entourage to newer, safer locations. And while some argued in favor of a smaller, more mobile unit, focused strictly on waging battle against the Germans, Tuvia Bielski was firm in his commitment to all Jews. "I'd rather save one old Jewish woman," he said, "than kill ten Nazis." In July 1944, after two and a half years in the woods, the Bielskis learned that the Germans, overrun by the Red Army, were retreating back toward Berlin. More than one thousand Bielski Jews emerged -- alive -- on that final, triumphant exit from the woods. The Bielski Brothers is a dramatic and heartfelt retelling of a story of the truest heroism, a historic testament to courage in the face of unspeakable adversity.


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The inspiring and harrowing true story of three brothers who established a hidden base camp in the Belorussian forest eluding the Nazi's extensive efforts to capture them. In July 1944, after two and a half years in the woods, more than one thousand Jewish men, women and children, emerged from the woods triumphant and alive. It is one of the most remarkable dramas of World The inspiring and harrowing true story of three brothers who established a hidden base camp in the Belorussian forest eluding the Nazi's extensive efforts to capture them. In July 1944, after two and a half years in the woods, more than one thousand Jewish men, women and children, emerged from the woods triumphant and alive. It is one of the most remarkable dramas of World War II -- untold until now. In 1941, three young men -- brothers, sons of a miller -- witnessed their parents and two other siblings being led away to their eventual murders. It was a grim scene that would, of course, be repeated endlessly throughout the war. What makes this particular story of interest is how the survivors responded. Instead of running or capitulating or giving in to despair, these brothers -- Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski -- did something else entirely. They fought back, waging a guerrilla war of wits and cunning against both the Nazis and the pro-Nazi sympathizers. Along the way they saved well over a thousand Jewish lives. Using their intimate knowledge of the dense forests surrounding the Belorussian towns of Novogrudek and Lida, the Bielskis evaded the Nazis and established a hidden base camp, then set about convincing other Jews to join their ranks. When the Nazis began systematically eliminating the local Jewish populations -- more than ten thousand were killed in the first year of the Nazi occupation alone -- the Bielskis intensified their efforts, often sending fighting men into the ghettos to escort Jews to safety. As more and more Jews arrived each day, a robust community began to emerge, a "Jerusalem in the woods." They slept in camouflaged dugouts built into the ground. Lovers met, were married, and conceived children. The community boasted a synagogue, a bathhouse, a theater, and cobblers so skilled that Russian officers would wait in line to have their boots reshod. But as its notoriety grew, so too did the Nazi efforts to capture the rugged brothers; and on several occasions they came so near to succeeding that the Bielskis had to abandon the camp and lead their massive entourage to newer, safer locations. And while some argued in favor of a smaller, more mobile unit, focused strictly on waging battle against the Germans, Tuvia Bielski was firm in his commitment to all Jews. "I'd rather save one old Jewish woman," he said, "than kill ten Nazis." In July 1944, after two and a half years in the woods, the Bielskis learned that the Germans, overrun by the Red Army, were retreating back toward Berlin. More than one thousand Bielski Jews emerged -- alive -- on that final, triumphant exit from the woods. The Bielski Brothers is a dramatic and heartfelt retelling of a story of the truest heroism, a historic testament to courage in the face of unspeakable adversity.

30 review for The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews

  1. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Mayfield

    There is no doubt that this is a compelling story, but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect. These brothers were indeed heroes to some, but what of the several Jews summarily executed by them for not following them unquestionably? To those people and their families, these men were perhaps no better than the Nazis. This book did nothing but make me sad. Sad to see those who would aspire to saving their own so quickly turn to the tactics of their enemies in order to keep the order they des There is no doubt that this is a compelling story, but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect. These brothers were indeed heroes to some, but what of the several Jews summarily executed by them for not following them unquestionably? To those people and their families, these men were perhaps no better than the Nazis. This book did nothing but make me sad. Sad to see those who would aspire to saving their own so quickly turn to the tactics of their enemies in order to keep the order they desire. There was no room for dissent, no sharing of power; for the Bielskis, it was their way or the highway. This is an important story, but not because Jews were saved. It demonstrates clearly how power is corrupting and how even those we would hold up as heroes are people with faults. Not everyone will find the Bielski story inspiring even if it is captivating, fascinating, extraordinary, and engrossing. In my opinion, the best single-word review of the book printed on the back cover is haunting.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joe Wisniewski

    I have to say that I am quite embarrassed as to not fully appreciating the breadth and scope of the Holocaust atrocities. I wasn't aware of the scope of brutality as it related to extended efforts the Nazi regime took to attempt Jewish extermination in the relative far reaches of Nazi-occupied USSR. This occurred all the way into 1943, only ceasing as the Nazi' were routed by the Red Army in their retreat back to Germany from the eastern front. I especially appreciated Duffy's apparently slavish I have to say that I am quite embarrassed as to not fully appreciating the breadth and scope of the Holocaust atrocities. I wasn't aware of the scope of brutality as it related to extended efforts the Nazi regime took to attempt Jewish extermination in the relative far reaches of Nazi-occupied USSR. This occurred all the way into 1943, only ceasing as the Nazi' were routed by the Red Army in their retreat back to Germany from the eastern front. I especially appreciated Duffy's apparently slavish service to historical accuracy, as the Bielski brothers were NOT depicted as simply rough and tumble Robin Hood's of 20th century Eastern Europe. They fell victim, one might claim, to the sins of vengeance and acts of overreactive aggression resulting in the death's of others; even a fellow Jew near the end of the saga. Definite 5 star read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susan Bennett

    I'm a big fan of narrative history and this book reminded me of why I love that genre so much. The subtitle explains what the book is about and it always amazes me to discover the number of WWII heroes previously unknown to me. The narrative is coherent and fast paced. The description of the German atrocities in the Belarus region is unflinchingly horrific. The book covers stories of individual and collective courage, but also is a lesson in choices when the regular behavior norms and governance I'm a big fan of narrative history and this book reminded me of why I love that genre so much. The subtitle explains what the book is about and it always amazes me to discover the number of WWII heroes previously unknown to me. The narrative is coherent and fast paced. The description of the German atrocities in the Belarus region is unflinchingly horrific. The book covers stories of individual and collective courage, but also is a lesson in choices when the regular behavior norms and governance of a society are disrupted. Some citizens show extraordinary bravery while others abandon their humanity and become willing participants in the Nazi machine. The refugee society in the woods is itself far from Utopian, and the decisions the brothers make to discourage dissension may be necessary but are also startling.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This book really does read like a non-fiction thriller. It was life affirming and heart breaking at the same time. Given the knowledge of where the brothers settled in the later years of their lives, reaffirms my awe and wonder at how sometimes hidden among ordinary neighborhood, hidden behind ordinary jobs, there might just be an incredible hero. What I find wonderful about Duffy's account is that while some parts may be, out of admiration, recounted slightly fonder than they actually occurred, This book really does read like a non-fiction thriller. It was life affirming and heart breaking at the same time. Given the knowledge of where the brothers settled in the later years of their lives, reaffirms my awe and wonder at how sometimes hidden among ordinary neighborhood, hidden behind ordinary jobs, there might just be an incredible hero. What I find wonderful about Duffy's account is that while some parts may be, out of admiration, recounted slightly fonder than they actually occurred, there is little "romanticization". The survivors are portrayed as humans; exceptional in their bravery and compassion, but humans none the less.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    This is a great story ... but probably not one I can use in my novel (the sequel to A FLOOD OF EVIL)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Having written so many reviews today, I am getting lazy and sloppy. Let me just summarize by saying that I really liked this book b/c it showed how some Jews fought against the Nazis. So many just say they dumbly put themselves on trains to the concentration camps. THAT IS FALSE! Their active attempts to fight against all odds must be made known. This book helps make clear the truth. Jews did fight for their ives. Secondly, Tuvia was a fighter. To be that you cannot at the same time expect him t Having written so many reviews today, I am getting lazy and sloppy. Let me just summarize by saying that I really liked this book b/c it showed how some Jews fought against the Nazis. So many just say they dumbly put themselves on trains to the concentration camps. THAT IS FALSE! Their active attempts to fight against all odds must be made known. This book helps make clear the truth. Jews did fight for their ives. Secondly, Tuvia was a fighter. To be that you cannot at the same time expect him to always balance his anger perfectly. In time of war maybe you need these people too. It is utterly amazing the non-descript role he took as a taxi-driver after the war. You might look at this taxi driver and NEVER, ever imagine the acts of courage that lay in his past! You never know who a person REALLY is until you sit down and talk and talk and talk. It is amazing what one person can hide inside themselves. Thirdly, this book presented an absolutlely stunning overview of all parts of WW2. It is wxorth reading just for that. Nope, I think I will switch it to five stars, from my previously allotted four! Through page 130: This is hard to swallow. Tuvia becomes just too vengeful for my tastes.I have absolutely no intention of stopping, but this is not a pleasant read. Through page 118: At times this is an extremely difficult and detailed read about the atrocities committed during war. Actually it is the historical overviews that gives your emotions a reprieve. Through page 60: The book begins by giving a clear overview of WW2 from 1939-1941. It is on the basis of these events that Tuvia Bieski begins to realize that he has to do something to save the remaining members of his family and other Jews in his community. It is in this man's nature to fight back. So he began to plan. I particularly liked the degree of detail given to the historical events - not too much nor too little. The sources for each chapter are noted in the back of the book. Along with the "historical events" the readers learns what was happening to the Bielski family. This makes the "historical events" have a more personal tone. This is what happened to the mother, the father, this brother and that brother. You understand the fury and determination of Tuvia and his brothers, Asael and Zus. Starting: Lovely it has a good map! It takes place in what is today Belarus, a deep forest area west of Minsk. I so want to read about these Jews who courageously fought for their survival in WW2. they didn't just succumb.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    An amazing true story of the Bielski Brothers during the Nazi invasion of Belorus. Tuvia Bielski hd a vision of saving Jews from the Nazis and he carried it out come hell or high water. In spite of all odds he kept bringing in refugees and providing a place for them. He said "We cannot sit in the bushes and wait until the wolf comes for us. We must send people into the ghetto to save Jews." Amazing. It is heartbreaking to think of all those poor people had to do to survive. It is almost impossibl An amazing true story of the Bielski Brothers during the Nazi invasion of Belorus. Tuvia Bielski hd a vision of saving Jews from the Nazis and he carried it out come hell or high water. In spite of all odds he kept bringing in refugees and providing a place for them. He said "We cannot sit in the bushes and wait until the wolf comes for us. We must send people into the ghetto to save Jews." Amazing. It is heartbreaking to think of all those poor people had to do to survive. It is almost impossible to understand what could cause anyone to conceive of killing all the Jews (or any other race) and yet over 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis while lots of non-Jews stood by and allowed it to happen. Shame on them.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    This was an ultimately satisfying and fascinating account. I’ve read a lot of holocaust books but how this could have happened was new to me. About forest partisans who literally lived in the forest, moving when necessary, in huge groups, right under the Nazi’s noses. Brought up a lot of conflicted feelings for me because these people were merciless and committed quite a bit of violence – and not just against the Nazis but anyone who they perceived as threatening their safety. I normally think o This was an ultimately satisfying and fascinating account. I’ve read a lot of holocaust books but how this could have happened was new to me. About forest partisans who literally lived in the forest, moving when necessary, in huge groups, right under the Nazi’s noses. Brought up a lot of conflicted feelings for me because these people were merciless and committed quite a bit of violence – and not just against the Nazis but anyone who they perceived as threatening their safety. I normally think of myself a pacifist but in the end it seemed as though the end might justify the means, but it was tough reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    The movie Defiance is based on the true story of the Bielski Brothers, amazing men who saved over 1000 Jewish people during WW2. The book was written in a very simple style--but it was informative and direct. These men were so brave and skillful--they faced so much opposition--the Nazis of course, but there were internal threats to their authority, and they were also incorporated into the Soviet partisan movement and had to answer to the Russians, empahsizing to them that they were saving Soviet The movie Defiance is based on the true story of the Bielski Brothers, amazing men who saved over 1000 Jewish people during WW2. The book was written in a very simple style--but it was informative and direct. These men were so brave and skillful--they faced so much opposition--the Nazis of course, but there were internal threats to their authority, and they were also incorporated into the Soviet partisan movement and had to answer to the Russians, empahsizing to them that they were saving Soviet citizens, which was true, but the real mission was to save the Jewish people. The atrocities are documented and so are the acts of heroism. I kind of wish this book had been written in more of a creative non-fiction style, getting more into the heads of the main characters, but that wasn't the purpose of the book. It fufilled its purpose very well. I felt really sad when I read about Tuvia, the oldest brother's life in America. Truck driver, taxi driver. He was a hero that got very little recognition and even less worldly sucess. It was sad. According to this book, the Bielskis saved more Jewish lives than any other Jewish person during the war. I'm glad they made the movie and now more people than ever know about these great men.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gigi

    What I have come away with, after reading this book, is something I was not expecting when I started reading it. The reviews told me the book is written more like a thriller which happened to be a story of true events. I agree that the author did an impressive job of making a story about WWII so personal, engaging and thrilling. But on top of that, I am overcome by what I am now aware of; the importance these brothers have for their Jewish history. WWII is a topic that can be found in many forms What I have come away with, after reading this book, is something I was not expecting when I started reading it. The reviews told me the book is written more like a thriller which happened to be a story of true events. I agree that the author did an impressive job of making a story about WWII so personal, engaging and thrilling. But on top of that, I am overcome by what I am now aware of; the importance these brothers have for their Jewish history. WWII is a topic that can be found in many forms, whether it be movies, books, museums, etc. So I find it difficult to find a new perspective that I haven't already seen. The things these brothers were able to accomplish is something I had no prior knowledge about. Although this book is aimed at showcasing the incredible accomplishments of the Bielski's, I was pleased that the author was honest in adding any negative opinions others had of them. The author laid it all out on the table, which made it easy for me to feel comfortable drawing my own opinion/ conclusion on whether I felt some of their actions were just.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Scott Rauland

    A well documented account of the heroic efforts of the Bielski brothers to save hundreds of Jewish residents from certain death in the ghettoes of Novogrudek, Lida and other cities in Belarus during WW II. The story was dramatized in the film "Defiance," starring Daniel Craig, but the author provides a great deal of additional detail about how the brothers sought to help Jews in the nearby ghettoes escape before it was too late and how they coped with the hardships of life in the forest and the A well documented account of the heroic efforts of the Bielski brothers to save hundreds of Jewish residents from certain death in the ghettoes of Novogrudek, Lida and other cities in Belarus during WW II. The story was dramatized in the film "Defiance," starring Daniel Craig, but the author provides a great deal of additional detail about how the brothers sought to help Jews in the nearby ghettoes escape before it was too late and how they coped with the hardships of life in the forest and the persistent efforts of the Nazis to track them down. The narrative is based on interviews with eyewitnesses and/or their written accounts, and is thus a fascinating look at a harrowing era of modern history.

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Anglis

    An easy to read, gripping journey of brothers trying to save their own. Written so the reader can literally put his or herself in the shoes of the Bielski brothers as they battle Nazis and their allies, starvation, sickness, the bitter cold, and each other. A story that leaves you wondering why it is you decide to complain about little things in life, after people have gone through this.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joanie

    Until I read this book I had never heard of the Bielski brothers but now, having finished the book I will never forget them. The bravery, the suffering, the horror and devastation described in this well written and researched book is unlikely to leave you unmoved.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Polly

    Learned a lot about the Jews in Russia. Guess I never realized they were there. A lot I didn't know about history was in this book. These people were amazing at what they pulled off. They're strength & courage to do this was awe inspriing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Saleh MoonWalker

    Onvan : The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews - Nevisande : Peter Duffy - ISBN : 60935537 - ISBN13 : 9780060935535 - Dar 336 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2003

  16. 5 out of 5

    Say

    Really amazing story. Looked for this book after I saw a preview for a movie based on this story that came out last year. Never saw it. Always read the book. Moving account of survival.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nimrodds

    מסמך היסטורי חשוב לכל אדם, נקרא במשך אחר צהריים אחד, בקלות

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aonarán

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I finished reading this book a few days ago and I'm still pretty torn about how I feel about it. It's the story of three brothers who lived in rural, secluded Belarus, and whose intimate understanding of their woodland environment gave them a huge advantage over the occupying Nazi force and so were slowly able to house, feed and fight together with more and more escapees from the ghettos, work camps and concentration camps in the area. Eventually over a thousand jews had assembled in their camps I finished reading this book a few days ago and I'm still pretty torn about how I feel about it. It's the story of three brothers who lived in rural, secluded Belarus, and whose intimate understanding of their woodland environment gave them a huge advantage over the occupying Nazi force and so were slowly able to house, feed and fight together with more and more escapees from the ghettos, work camps and concentration camps in the area. Eventually over a thousand jews had assembled in their camps to the point where they had miniature factories, a hospital, theatrical productions, etc. I read all that on the duskjacket when I first got the book, and I immediately got excited. I've been reading a lot about Nazi era Europe and the holocaust and resistance to it all, but much of it is written from the perspectives of people who have lost everything dear to them, or have survived intentionally or unintentionally by screwing over other people that they cared about - a position that they all acknowledge and seem to be greatly pained by. And in these stories the characters begin to see their only worth as witnesses to the atrocities. The motivation becomes survival and survival alone for the sake of letting others know. But this book gave me a new sort of hope about the situation. Immediately, the brothers begin thinking of revenge, the escapees begin coming to them because they want revenge. They do some ambushes and sabotage (all very entertaining and inspiring) and build their confidence. They begin to see that it doesn't just have to be revenge, they can be a part of the force that drives the Nazis out of their lives - they can be active participants, not just vessels of horrific information. I was also thinking that the villages they set up would be more of a new society in the woods - some sort of autonomous zone, and that they would not only be fighting the things they hated, but created new relationships and interactions with each other in spite of the situation. And right there is where the story lets me down. But before I launch into my criticisms (which seem to be there because I got my hopes up too soon) I want to give my praise. The brothers don't let themselves get pushed around, they seem to almost intrinsically understand that the best way not to get sucked up into the deadly nazi bureaucracy is to never let themselves become a part of it at all - resist it even on it's lowest level, their survival rate (especially compared to other partisan groups and other jewish groups) is insanely high, and their ability to move undetected and knowing their strengths and using them is awesome. It's the best, most hopeful account of holocaust survivors that I've encounter. All that said I guess I put a lot of faith into the village they created, that it would break down a lot of old, outdated, messed-up dynamics, but all the trauma and horror only seems to have enforced them more, often under the idea that they would not let the Nazis change their way of life, none of it. So all the hierarchies based on class, age, "usefulness", fighter/noncombatant, gender etc seem to prevail. The town even has a jail, a sketchy economy, class structure - all things that one would hope would dissolve but apparently didn't. The brothers themselves are also pretty tyranical, exiling and executing individuals who question or disagree with them, which is all swept under the rug by survivor testimonials that regard them as messiahs and gods. They ally themselves with the slightly less anti-semitic soviet partisans, but once the Stalinists take power from the Nazis, the brothers all high-tail it out knowing there's no good future for Jews in Soviet controlled Belarus. Those criticisms aside, it's an incredible story told well and smoothly. 4.1

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christina Sesok

    I found this story absolutely amazing and inspirational. The three Bielski brothers managed to save the live of many Jews during the Holocaust while simultaneously creating a safe haven in the Belorussian forest and sabotaging the Nazis' attempts to carry out the Final Solution and conquest of Europe. I feel like these two sentences perfectly sum up how amazing the story of the Bielski brothers was, "Three men, brothers, saved as many Jews during World War II as Oskar Schindler, and organized a I found this story absolutely amazing and inspirational. The three Bielski brothers managed to save the live of many Jews during the Holocaust while simultaneously creating a safe haven in the Belorussian forest and sabotaging the Nazis' attempts to carry out the Final Solution and conquest of Europe. I feel like these two sentences perfectly sum up how amazing the story of the Bielski brothers was, "Three men, brothers, saved as many Jews during World War II as Oskar Schindler, and organized a military force that killed hundreds of enemy soldiers, nearly as many as did the fighters of the Warsaw ghetto uprising." They created a village in the heart of the forest that "had living quarters; workshops for tailors, shoemakers, seamstresses and carpenters; a large herd of cows and horses; a school for sixty children; a main street and a central square; a musical and dramatic theater; and a tannery that doubled as a synagogue." It's absolutely amazing that these three men could save roughly 1,300 Jews while also attacking the Nazi invaders. What surprised me most about the story of the Bielski brothers was the fact that they worked so closely with the Russians and peasants all around the forest for survival. I was under the impression that they were completely independent in their survival. I was also surprised at the normal lives the brothers lived when they cam to America. They were truck drivers. They lived average lives and very rarely talked about their heroic actions. It made me think about the lives of the average people around you. You never know what amazing things the person next to you at a stoplight has done. Duffy obviously did his research, which was no easy task. While they lived in the forest, one Jew interviewed as many people as he could and compiled all the information into 60 journals, all of which were subsequently destroyed by outside forces. Despite that, Duffy weaves a tale of survival, endurance and the willingness to fight back. The story is inspirational, how one small action (such as taking your family into the forest to save them from the Nazis) can create a domino effect that essentially saves 1,300 from unspeakable horror and certain execution.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Stoltzfoos

    In my book, The Bielski Brothers, there are three brothers, Tuvia, Zus, and Asael. It describes their story and how they saved the lives of over twelve hundred Jews. The brothers provided a place for these Jews to live by building a small town in dense forest of the Naliboki Puscha. It also describes how instead of fleeing from the Germans they fought back with the little weapons they could obtain. Since The Bielski Brothers is a nonfiction book it does not have a constant theme, but it is stil In my book, The Bielski Brothers, there are three brothers, Tuvia, Zus, and Asael. It describes their story and how they saved the lives of over twelve hundred Jews. The brothers provided a place for these Jews to live by building a small town in dense forest of the Naliboki Puscha. It also describes how instead of fleeing from the Germans they fought back with the little weapons they could obtain. Since The Bielski Brothers is a nonfiction book it does not have a constant theme, but it is still generally about not giving up. The book shows this theme when the brother and their group are trying to escape the Germans in the Naliboki Puscha. I also heard their story of how they started a campaign that ended up saving the lives of over twelve hundred Jews because I had not even heard of partisans before this book. It was filled with suspense even though it is nonfiction. It is also very evident that he researched their story very well before he started writing. However, sometimes the author strays from only telling the brothers story and puts in filler information. An example of this would be the story of the family that escaped the train that was taking them a concentration camp. In my opinion the book was very well written. I would recommend my book to people who like reading about the hardships of the Jews in World War II, because this book tells you just how hard it was. It is also for people that like to read nonfiction historic novels in general. In conclusion I chose to read The Bielski Brothers because it looked interesting and I cannot say that I was too disappointed. The book’s theme is never give up even when it is hard. The book was very well written, but some of the wording was hard to understand. Finally this book is for anyone that likes to read true historic novels.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    What a great read! This book tells the amazing story of three Jewish brothers and their struggle to survive the Holocaust. These brothers saved more Jews from the Nazis then Oskar Schindler. This book serves as a good reminder of the anti-semitic tendencies of almost all of Europe. While the Holocaust was so extreme and evil, it didn't come out of nowhere. The family history of these brothers shows how the Jews had been fighting for survival for generations leading up to the Holocaust. This book What a great read! This book tells the amazing story of three Jewish brothers and their struggle to survive the Holocaust. These brothers saved more Jews from the Nazis then Oskar Schindler. This book serves as a good reminder of the anti-semitic tendencies of almost all of Europe. While the Holocaust was so extreme and evil, it didn't come out of nowhere. The family history of these brothers shows how the Jews had been fighting for survival for generations leading up to the Holocaust. This book is heart breaking in its true descriptions of the mass executions of hundreds of thousands of Jews in Russia and Poland. In fact, these 3 brothers were forced to flee into the thick of the Belarus forest after their parents, a wife and a baby girl were herded into one such mass execution and made to stand in front of an open grave while they were gunned down. While reading such material is emotionally hard, I think it is important to understand what happened and to not let the suffering of those people be forgotten. I found it interesting that after the war the Jews who had managed to survive were not necessarily welcomed back to their homelands. Many of them didn't have any choice but to flee to Isreal or the United States. Two of the Bielski brothers emigrated to Israel, but eventually ended up in New York City, where they lived average lives struggling to pay the bills and dying without recognition of their heroic acts during the war. The other brother was unfortunately conscripted into the Soviet Red Army and killed in battle shortly after the end of WWII. While this book was certainly an emotional read, it was well worth the time and I'm glad I now know the story of these brothers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karlee Davidson

    This was another book that I had watched the movie for long before I read the book. The movie was it's own emotional roller coaster and the book lived up to my expectations. It is a hard story to take in, and at the same time, it is a great and inspiring story. The book shows the opposite side of the story. Holocaust writers often write of their experiences or of other's in concentration camps but this takes us through the story of those who fought back against the Nazi's and stood their ground. This was another book that I had watched the movie for long before I read the book. The movie was it's own emotional roller coaster and the book lived up to my expectations. It is a hard story to take in, and at the same time, it is a great and inspiring story. The book shows the opposite side of the story. Holocaust writers often write of their experiences or of other's in concentration camps but this takes us through the story of those who fought back against the Nazi's and stood their ground. At times I felt it hard to get into, especially the more central portion of the book when all that really happened was arguing. Now, obviously that's a pretty normal thing to do in the situation the three brothers and several hundred other people were put into but I just felt that it wasn't necessary to include all of it. However, other than that, I loved the book and have no other complaints and would love to read it again. -----POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW---- The three Bielski brothers after the murder of their parents and the idea of having the Nazi's relocate them, chose to diappear into the forest and resist against the Nazi forces. The camp grew to over 1200 people and they constantly were providing home and refuge to fleeing Jews and those who were able to get away as well as those who wanted to fight. The brothers all so different are able to overcome tremendous difficultly and harsh conditions and dangerous tasks just to save a few hundred people but all of this was worth the risk and effort.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jarom

    An intensely fact-focused book, The Bielski Brothers narrates the fantastic, nearly reality-defying story of the Jewish Bielski brothers and their heroic actions during World War II. Unfortunately for the characters, the author who discovered their demeanors fails to qualify for the occupation of storyteller. Instead of telling a gripping tale, Duffy opts out of potential drama as he prefers to keep to the relative safety of fact; merely recounting what he had been told and read. Hence another v An intensely fact-focused book, The Bielski Brothers narrates the fantastic, nearly reality-defying story of the Jewish Bielski brothers and their heroic actions during World War II. Unfortunately for the characters, the author who discovered their demeanors fails to qualify for the occupation of storyteller. Instead of telling a gripping tale, Duffy opts out of potential drama as he prefers to keep to the relative safety of fact; merely recounting what he had been told and read. Hence another violation of great story. Author's ineptitudes aside, the account of Asael, Zus, and Tuvia Bielski is awe-inspiring and more. A daring mixture of Robin Hood, Zorro, and the Scarlet Pimpernel, the brothers took a stand against the Third Reich that would statistically overshadow even the record of Oskar Schindler. Retreating into the dense woods of Poland as occupying Nazi troops ask a bounty for their deaths, the brothers rescue over 1,300 Jews over the years 1941-43. Harboured in the snowy forests, the Jews create a community out of the mixture of partisan fighters and noncombatants. Even as Reischfuhrer-SS Himmler orders lawless Sonderkommando-SS units (known for clearing minefields by having captured women and children precede their front lines) into the natural fortress, the Bielskis continue to fight on, a simple quest for vengeance transforming into a war for a way of life, an onslaught crescendoing into one of the greatest escapes of all time. Raids, twists, betrayal, romance, heartbreak- the brothers' tale has it all.

  24. 5 out of 5

    GraceH

    This book is a very fascinating book, and the author wrote it well. He keeps you interested even through the parts that should be boring. It blows me away that they could pull something that huge off (don't want to say anything that might ruin the story). One thing that did bother me about the author is that he kept using phrases like "Luck was on their side..." " And luck was with them..." right after a miracle would happen.The part that bothered me the most was near the end (don't worry I'm not This book is a very fascinating book, and the author wrote it well. He keeps you interested even through the parts that should be boring. It blows me away that they could pull something that huge off (don't want to say anything that might ruin the story). One thing that did bother me about the author is that he kept using phrases like "Luck was on their side..." " And luck was with them..." right after a miracle would happen.The part that bothered me the most was near the end (don't worry I'm not going to tell you what it was) something that could only be explained as a HUGE miracle, and he says that luck was on their side. I couldn't believe it. How can you research something like this and still think that it was just luck. Anyway, I spent more time on that subject then I planned to. : ) I have to agree with Joe on the revenge part. I thought that it was a classic telling of that. Overall it was a sad, but interesting, story to read. And it's the kind of book that makes you think.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meirav Rath

    Duffy's had it easy; the story of the amazing miraculous work of the Bielski brothers is an easy subject to research (thanks to the brothers' work there were many survivors to tell their tale) and a light, relatively gore-free subject unlike many in the holocaust period. Duffy wastes no chance to make this already amazing story even greater by describing the era, deeds and people with a light artistic style. This is a nice, easy to digest book about a very heavy time, and is aught to be read to Duffy's had it easy; the story of the amazing miraculous work of the Bielski brothers is an easy subject to research (thanks to the brothers' work there were many survivors to tell their tale) and a light, relatively gore-free subject unlike many in the holocaust period. Duffy wastes no chance to make this already amazing story even greater by describing the era, deeds and people with a light artistic style. This is a nice, easy to digest book about a very heavy time, and is aught to be read to honor the wonderful actions of the Bielsky brothers.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    This was a good book,making a harsh reality clear to me. I think I had romanticized the period somewhat, thinking of the bravery of those that survived and ignoring the brutality that was sometimes necessary to ensure that survival. It is a hard book to read but it leaves you wiser

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leah Goldschneider x

    A good combination of facts and story telling. This is a story I think everyone should read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    I picked up this book because of a graduate class James is taking, and I figured it was an interesting subject, and I hadn't heard much about this aspect of World War Two. Tuvia, Asael, and Zus Bielski were born in modern-day Belarus (then Poland) and before WW2, they lived in Red Army occupied territory. However, once the Nazis attacked and began rounding up Jewish residents, the three brothers knew they had to resist. What began as a group of 20 family members and close friends grew to a group I picked up this book because of a graduate class James is taking, and I figured it was an interesting subject, and I hadn't heard much about this aspect of World War Two. Tuvia, Asael, and Zus Bielski were born in modern-day Belarus (then Poland) and before WW2, they lived in Red Army occupied territory. However, once the Nazis attacked and began rounding up Jewish residents, the three brothers knew they had to resist. What began as a group of 20 family members and close friends grew to a group of nearly 1,200 escaped Jews, essentially giving the Bielski brothers the title of the leaders of the biggest resistance movement for Jews by Jews. The group relied on the Soviet fighting groups for military direction, but remained independently 'governed' for the most part. It was a very well-written account of the Bielski resistance. The formatting of the book was also very well done. I learned a lot about Jewish resistance of all types, and also the Russian side of WW2, which isn't often discussed (at least in what I've read and been exposed to). The book did a really nice job of cataloging the events of the Bielski group in regards to what was happening on the fronts. I'd give it a 3.5 rating - I didn't love the topic and I don't often read and love non-fiction, but for what it was, it was a good read (pun intended).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    Heroes! That, I finally realize, is my fascination with Holocaust stories. The people aren't military leasers, recounting their battles and victories. They aren't politicians expounding their philosopies. These stories are about ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times -- and acted to try to make a difference. The Bielski brothers were Belerussians, overrun by Nazis during the invasion of the USSR. Their family ran a grain mill in a village, and they lived ordinary lives, except that Heroes! That, I finally realize, is my fascination with Holocaust stories. The people aren't military leasers, recounting their battles and victories. They aren't politicians expounding their philosopies. These stories are about ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times -- and acted to try to make a difference. The Bielski brothers were Belerussians, overrun by Nazis during the invasion of the USSR. Their family ran a grain mill in a village, and they lived ordinary lives, except that they were Jewish, the only Jews in the village, known, appreciated and respeccted in their neighborhoods. When war and the Nazi goal of elimination of all Jews invaded their world, they hid, and then, out of their hiding they acted to rescue Jews rounded up into ghettos, aznd to serve as partisan fighters for their mother country. At the defeat of the Nazis in their area in 1944, more than 1000 Jews, young, old, sickly, and fighters came out of the forests alive thanks to these brave men. Read this and weep and cheer. This isn't scholarly history. It's a true story about people, told as people remembered it. Well worth the reading.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    An extremely strong & valiant war-time story of Jews rescuing other Jews. Truly inspiring. A point of pause was the lack of build up to a plot. I must temper that with the fact that reading the story came years After having seen the 2008 film starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber. I appreciated the map near the beginning and background facts and life style explanations. This helped give context to events with other nationals living in this same region. It is an incredible piece of preserve An extremely strong & valiant war-time story of Jews rescuing other Jews. Truly inspiring. A point of pause was the lack of build up to a plot. I must temper that with the fact that reading the story came years After having seen the 2008 film starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber. I appreciated the map near the beginning and background facts and life style explanations. This helped give context to events with other nationals living in this same region. It is an incredible piece of preserved history and should be disseminated more widely. I never heard any of this while studying WWII in school. This and Unbroken has helped me, personally, understand a bit of the complexites in tradition, religion and nationalism from the Jews' perspective.

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