- The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe
- Night by Elie Wiesel (Biography 921/Wiesel)
- Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wien
- An American Heroine in the French Resistance: The Diary and Memoir of Virginia d'Albert-Lake by Virginia d'Albert-Lake (Biography 921/D'Albert-Lake)
The New York Times Bestseller by Heather Morris is a touching true story of a young man from Slovakia who volunteers to go to what he is told is a work camp to work for the Germans because he is told that this will keep his family safe. In April 1942, Lale Sokolov is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners. At great risk to himself, he manages to use money and jewels passed to him from the belongs of murdered jews to get extra food and medicine for his fellow prisoners.
If you are interested in life in the Nazi concentration camp, try these books from the Turner Ashby Library collections;
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe is based on the experiences of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraous. This is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during ehe Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.
Awards and Honors:
If you are interested in other books about the Holocaust, try these titles from the Turner Ashby Library:
Invasion by Walter Dean Myers is marketed as a prequel to his books Fallen Angels (Vietnam War) and Sunrise Over Fallujah (Gulf War).
Josiah Wedgewood and Marcus Perry both grew up in Bedford, VA and have know each other their entire lives. Josiah is white and Marcus is black. Both face fear and death in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, but in very different capacities.
Thirty-four Virginia National Guard soldiers from the town of Bedford were part of D-Day. Nineteen of them were killed during the first day of the invasion, and four more died during the rest of the Normandy campaign. The town and the "Bedford Boys" had proportionately suffered the greatest losses of the campaign, thus inspiring the United States Congress to establish the D-Day memorial in Bedford, Virginia.
If you are interested in more information about the Bedford Boys, the invasion of Normandy, or the roles blacks filled in the U.S. military, check out these books which are part of the Turner Ashby Library collection:
Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy tell the little known story of young women recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.
Book trailer and interviews with some of the code girls.
If you are interested in other books on the topic of women in the time of war or of coder breakers, I would recommend the following books in the TAHS library:
The 10 True Tales series by Allan Zullo including the titles above and more are short, easy to read nonfiction books. The author uses memoirs, diaries, biographies, battle reports, and military files to research his subjects. He uses real names, dates, and places to write factual versions of his subjects heroism, dramatizing certain scenes and recreating some dialogue.
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Barzelay Stelson is a narrative nonfiction book that tells the true story of six-year-old Sachiko Yasui's survival of the Nagasaki atomic bomb on August 9, 1945, and the heartbreaking and lifelong aftermath. August 9, 1945 was a normal day for Sahiko growing up on war-time Japan. At 11:01 A.M., she was playing house outdoors with four other children making mud dumplings. There was a flash in the sky. In moments the other children were all dead. The atomic bomb had exploded half a mile away from them.
Caren Stelson conducted extensive interviews with Sachiko Yasui. The resulting story chronicles Sachiko’s trauma and loss as well as her long journey to find peace, looking to her father, Mahatma Gandhi, Helen Keller, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The author also includes chapters in between the narrative which gives excellent information about the bomb itself, the decision to use it, the peace movement in Japan after the war, and the nuclear proliferation and effort to stop it. I was interest to see that the slogan in Japan in protest of nuclear weapons: "Never again!" was the same thing used in reference to the Holocaust in Europe.(Nonfiction - 921/Yasui)
Awards and Honors:
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin is one of a growing number of books being publish in the genre of alternate/alternative history. These books ask the question "What if..." In this case, the question is what if the Axis powers had won World War II?
Ten years later (1956), in a world controlled by the New Order (Germany) and the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (Japan), the Resistance is still at work. Yael, a death camp survivor, undertakes a nearly impossible mission to assassinate Hitler at the grand Victor's Ball marking the end of the tenth annual Axis Tour, a grueling and dangerous motorcycle race from Germania (Berlin) to Tokyo.
As a result of medical experimentation in the concentration camp, Yael is a skin shifter. able to take on the appearance and voice of anyone she chooses. In order to carry out her mission, which will be a signal to resistance fighters all over the world, Yael becomes Adele Wolfe the winner of last year's Axis Tour. Author Interview
Graudin has also written an e-novella Iron to Iron which tells the story of the 1955 race from the point of view of Luka Lowe. It adds to the framework of Wolf by Wolf and further explains the relationship between Luka and Adele, a relationship of which Yael knows nothing.
The sequel came out in November 2016. Blood for Blood, follows Yael, Luka, and Felix as they attempt to escape after Yael fails in her mission to kill Hitler. Yael is reunited with a friend that she has assumed had died in the concentration camp. They now set out together to try again to free the world of Hitler and the Nazis.
We Were the Lucky Ones: A Novel by Georgia Hunter is the remarkable story of the Kurc family who, against all odds, survived the Holocaust intact.
In 1939, increasing hardships threatens Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. Soon the horrors overtaking Europe became inescapable. The Kurcs found themselves flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety. Eventually, the entire found their ways back together again.
If you like this type of book, check out other similar reads available in the TAHS library.
Those who know me know that I like historical fiction. It must be good, accurate history, as well as a good story. Rita Sepetys does extensive research for her books. While researching Between Shades of Gray (nothing to do with Fifty Shades of Gray other than they were published about the same time), she visited surviving members of her own family in Lithuania. She was even able to stand inside one the the cattle cars that were used to transport native Lithuanians, Latvians, and other Baltic peoples to the gulags of Stalin in Siberia where everything was just a different shade of gray and survival was a constant battle. Author speaks about the true history of her family behind the book.
Ms. Sepetys spent three years researching material for Salt to the Sea. I am always amazed when I read about an historical event of which I have never heard. I was never told in any history class about the Japanese Interment camps in the U.S. during World War II. I knew nothing about them until I read the book Farewell to Manzanar after I started teaching. The same thing was true of Salt to the Sea. I had never even heard of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustoff, the greatest maritime disaster in history. Everyone knows about the sinking of the Titanic and the loss of 1,517 lives. The Wilhelm Gustoff was built for about 1,700 passengers and crew, but was carrying about 10,000 civilians and German millitary personnel desperately trying to escape East Prussia before the Soviet army arrived. When the Wilhelm Gustoff was torpedoed by a Soviet sub, 9,000 lives were lost. Four other ships being used in the evacuation were also sunk that day with a total loss of 17,500 lives on those four ships. Salt to the Sea follows four of the people who were on the Wilhelm Gustoff. Author Introduction to book
If you are interested in other books like this, try the following books from the TAHS library:
Awards and Honors
Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WW II Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of The USS Indianapolis by Edgar Harrell, USMC with his son David Harrell is a detailed and graphic account of the sinking of the Indianapolis as told by one of the few survivors of the event. About midnight on July 10, 1945, (just weeks before the end of the war), Edgar Harrell was sleeping on deck to avoid the stifling heat below deck, when the Indy was hit by two torpedoes fired from the Japanese submarine I-58. In less than fifteen minutes, the heavy cruiser sank without a trace and without anyone other and the men on the two vessels knowing that the ship had been lost. Of the Indy’s crew of 1,196 men, about 900 ended up in the shark-infested waters of the Philippine Sea. After five horrific days of dealing with injuries suffered in the attack on the ship, the effect on oil and saltwater on human flesh, saltwater poisoning, hypothermia, dehydration and shark attacks, only 317 remained alive. Even then their rescue was a miracle because no was actually looking for them.
Harrell is not hesitant in crediting God for his survival. He begins each chapter with a quote from the Bible and frequently uses Bible verses in the telling of his story.
He also includes what happened to the survivors after they are rescued and about their efforts to have Captain Charles B. McVay, iii exonerated of any blame for the lost of the ship and most of its crew.
The TA library also has a second book on the sinking of the Indianapolis:
I am a former high school English teacher and now a high school librarian.