In this riveting book Nechama Tec offers insights into the differences between the experiences of Jewish women and men during the Holocaust. Her research draws on a variety of sources: wartime diaries, postwar memoirs, a range of archival materials, and most important, direct interviews with Holocaust survivors. Tec reveals how women and men on the road to annihilation developed distinct coping strategies and how mutual cooperation and compassion operated across gender lines.
Tec is able to paint a more nuanced picture of the realities of Jewish resistance than previous historians. . . . A remarkable and important book.”Tikkun
"Tec offers compelling evidence that gender-related analyses add significantly to our understanding of Jewish experiences during the Holocaust.”Jewish Book World
While this is a work of powerful emotionality, it is also a groundbreaking study of how gender is inexplicably bound to history and experience.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"I remember once she got hold of some mildewed flour. Mother baked rolls out of it. Everyone got one roll. And after I finished, I asked her, `Mom, maybe I could have another roll?' And she just started crying." It is details like this that make Tec's book both historically vital and emotionally unsettling. Drawing upon dozens of interviews with Holocaust survivors, Tec (who won a Christopher Award for her 1991 The Lion's Den: The Life of Oswald Rufeisen) has attempted to understand how gender influenced the experience of the Holocaust-a topic rarely treated in comprehensively before. This alone makes Tec's book almost unique, but her amazing skill as an interviewer and accomplished ability to analyze this raw material in a historical context makes this a significant addition to the field. Tec organizes a tremendous amount of personal and historical material succinctly-in such chapters as "Life in the Ghetto," "Leaving the Ghetto," "The Concentration Camps"-while making nuanced connections. She notes, for instance, that, in the early stages of Nazi control, the self-esteem of Jewish men was damaged by new laws forbidding them to work; in the camps men were "more affected by their prewar social standing than women." Often she comes up with surprising data, observing, for instance, that while women frequently and easily took on the "male role" when needed, when Jewish men did have more power (as among partisans in the forests), women were expected to return to their roles as caregivers and sexual partners. While this is a work of powerful emotionality, it is also a groundbreaking study of how gender is inexplicably bound to history and experience. Agent, Pam Bernstein. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.