Again, seeing that this is apparently targeting the YA audience, I just can't agree. He/She would have to be a very mature young adult before I handed them this book. Maybe I'm not giving young people enough credit but the stories included here I wouldn't want my daughter reading at a young age. I'm 100% for knowledge, most especially of anything like this, but one has to be able to process the information being learned or no good will come from it, only pain, if anything.
That being said, this is outstanding. It really is. The reason I'm giving it four stars instead of five is personal. I'm not much of a short story person. I think, as much as I "liked" reading this, that I'd have much more enjoyed a whole sequencial book by Nomberg-Przytyk.
One thing I did not like - the afterword. I felt like I was being sold the author, her writing, and this book. Anyone that read the book before the afterword (as it should be) would already be sold on all three things IMO. And if not, the afterword isn't going to change anything. I don't like anything being pushed on me and the afterword really should be cut out of here. Scratch that - it shouldn't be cut out. There are a number of good points brought up, a lot of which a reader may not think about on their own. What should be cut out are the selling points. It takes away from the book in a horrible, horrible way.
I can't even recommend skipping this afterword altogether because of the parts I mentioned above. I would only suggest to be aware and not fall into the sales pitch. If you got something from the book it won't be because of the afterword.
It is said, in the afterword no less, that Nomberg-Przytyk writes without absolute memory on some subjects. This had be skeptical at first but after reading one of the "good parts" in the afterword I changed my mind. I do believe that there is a good arguement for this type of writing. In one story the author writes about the first time she hears the word "organize" in the "Aushwitz term". Instead of organize meaning 'forming as or into a whole', in the Aushwitz sense organize means to steal to survive. Whether that means stealing food to trade for cigarettes to trade for a "good" job or something else, there is a new meaning for an old word.
The point of bringing this up is because it's said that it's unlikely this was the first time she heard the word. After all, that one word was probably spoken dozens and dozens of times in a day since "organizing" was so very important to survival.
Now, when I'm reading non-fiction I tend to want it exactly as it happened. I want to believe in that because without, is it really non-fiction in the strictest sense? Here I think yes. I don't think I'd care for this in many books but it works here and that's a great feat for Nomberg-Przytyk.
This book is an eye opener. It shows what human beings will do just to survive. I always heard about the horrors committed on the prisoners by soldiers but not about the prisoners turning on each other. I was able to see all sides in this book. There were evil SS men and yet there were ones that showed compassion. There were prisoners that would beat and starve other prisoners and ones who stuck together through all. A wonderful read but I would have liked to know more at the end though... more of her life after the war was over.