In a word: wow.
Night is the memoir of Elie Wiezel, a Jewish-Hungarian who in the spring of 1944, at the age of 15, was put in a concentration camp with his mother, sisters, and father. Wiesel retells his experience starting in 1943 (when his small town starts hearing stories of what was happening to the Jewish people) to the day the American tanks rolled up to the gates of Buchenwald. This was the most heart breaking book I’ve ever read.
It’s hard to find the words that describe why this book is so impactful. The preface to the book (written by Robert McAfee Brown for the 25th Anniversary Edition) probably says it best:
“Lean, taut, and spare in style, employing no tricks, but providing no avenues of escape for the readers…” -Brown
At 109 pages, the book is short but inescapable. Wiesel writes with candour, so much so that it is hard to believe he was actually able to put these words down on paper. His frankness is unapologetic. He does not dress it up, or create euphemisms. He retells the events.
I do not think I have fully digested this book yet; there is more to it than I can put my finger on. At the moment, the one thing that struck me bitterly was the utter, crushing, and total defeat of the people who were forced through this human tragedy. They were defeated. In every possible way. Yet some how found the strength to continue. I don’t know how they did.