Isaac's Army: A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Polandby Matthew Brzezinski
Starting as early as 1939, disparate Jewish underground movements coalesced around the shared goal of liberating Poland from Nazi occupation. For the next six years, separately and in concert, they waged a heroic war of resistance against Hitler’s war machine that culminated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Isaac’s Army, Matthew Brzezinski/i>
Starting as early as 1939, disparate Jewish underground movements coalesced around the shared goal of liberating Poland from Nazi occupation. For the next six years, separately and in concert, they waged a heroic war of resistance against Hitler’s war machine that culminated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Isaac’s Army, Matthew Brzezinski delivers the first-ever comprehensive narrative account of that struggle, following a group of dedicated young Jews—some barely out of their teens—whose individual acts of defiance helped rewrite the ending of World War II.
Based on first-person accounts from diaries, interviews, and surviving relatives, Isaac’s Army chronicles the extraordinary triumphs and devastating setbacks that befell the Jewish underground from its earliest acts of defiance in 1939 to the exodus to Palestine in 1946. This is the remarkable true story of the Jewish resistance from the perspective of those who led it: Isaac Zuckerman, the confident and charismatic twenty-four-year-old founder of the Jewish Fighting Organization; Simha Ratheiser, Isaac’s fifteen-year-old bodyguard, whose boyish good looks and seeming immunity to danger made him an ideal courier; and Zivia Lubetkin, the warrior queen of the underground who, upon hearing the first intimations of the Holocaust, declared: “We are going to defend ourselves.” Joined by allies on the left and right, they survived Gestapo torture chambers, smuggled arms, ran covert printing presses, opened illegal schools, robbed banks, executed collaborators, and fought in the two largest rebellions of the war.
Hunted by the Germans and bedeviled by the “Greasers”—roving bands of blackmailers who routinely turned in resistance fighters for profit—the movement was chronically short on firepower but long on ingenuity. Its members hatched plots in dank basements, never more than a door knock away from summary execution, and slogged through fetid sewers to escape the burning Ghetto to the forests surrounding the city. And after the initial uprising was ruthlessly put down by the SS, they gambled everything on a bold plan for a citywide revolt—of both Jews and Gentiles—that could end only in victory or total destruction. The money they raised helped thousands hide when the Ghetto was liquidated. The documents they forged offered lifelines to families desperate to escape the horror of the Holocaust. And when the war was over, they helped found the state of Israel.
A story of secret alliances, internal rivalries, and undying commitment to a cause, Isaac’s Army is history at its most heart-wrenching. Driven by an unforgettable cast of characters, it’s a true-life tale with the pulse of a great novel, and a celebration of the indomitable spirit of resistance.
Advance praise for Isaac’s Army
“Told with care and compassion, Matthew Brzezinski’s Isaac’s Army is a riveting account of the Jewish resistance in wartime Poland. This is an intense story that transcends the horror of the time and finds real inspiration in the bravery of those who fought back—some of whom lived to tell their stories. Highly recommended.”—Alan Furst, author of Mission to Paris
- Random House Publishing Group
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- 6.44(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.46(d)
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Meet the Author
After working for The New York Times in Warsaw in the early 1990s, Matthew Brzezinski served as Moscow correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. Following the September 11th attacks, he covered homeland security as a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. He is also the author of Casino Moscow, Fortress America, and Red Moon Rising. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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Absolutely captivating. To be able to put yourself in their shoes will bring tears. It's now one of my most favorite readings.
Well-written with tons of interesting stories.
Fantastic. Beautifully written. I thought I knew alot about the Holocaust but this book sheds light on the day to day horrors and struggles of those unfortunate enough to have found themselves imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto. A must read.
what a vivid, realistic, and heart wrenching account of the personal accounts of several people during horrendous Nazi years in Poland!!! It is a must to read!!!!!
This book has added to a much deeper insight into the national character of the Polish people and their involvement in helping their Jewish neighbors. It is only recently that books are coming to light about some of the saviors of those persecuted by the Nazi's. Irena Sendler, a Polish worker, who saved 2500 Jewish children comes to mind. The Polish Home Guard didn't have enough supplies to provide much aid to the Jews in the Ghettos because their own supplies of guns, bullets, plastique, etc. were in short supply. I highly recommend this book, Issac's Army, as it goes into more detail about the reasons the general population of the Polish people found it a challenge to aid their neighbors. Poles and those persecuted by the Nazi's often tried to help each other when all knew the Nazi's would kill anyone aiding the Jews. Courage knew no age limit, on either side, from 6-96.