The Fifth Son

( 1 )

Overview

Reuven Tamiroff, a Holocaust survivor, has never been able to speak about his past to his son, a young man who yearns to understand his father’s silence. As campuses burn amidst the unrest of the Sixties and his own generation rebels, the son is drawn to his father’s circle of wartime friends in search of clues to the past. Finally discovering that his brooding father has been haunted for years by his role in the murder of a brutal SS officer just after the war, young Tamiroff learns that the Nazi is still alive....

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The Fifth Son

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Overview

Reuven Tamiroff, a Holocaust survivor, has never been able to speak about his past to his son, a young man who yearns to understand his father’s silence. As campuses burn amidst the unrest of the Sixties and his own generation rebels, the son is drawn to his father’s circle of wartime friends in search of clues to the past. Finally discovering that his brooding father has been haunted for years by his role in the murder of a brutal SS officer just after the war, young Tamiroff learns that the Nazi is still alive. Haunting, poetic, and very contemporary, The Fifth Son builds to an unforgettable climax as the son sets out to complete his father’s act of revenge.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A work of passion and intelligence.”
Chicago Tribune Book World
 
“Powerful [and] emotional.”
Newsday
 
“A voice that is humanist and universal even as it is Jewish-minded and special . . . The author makes all of us ‘children’ of that generation.”
The New York Times
D. M. Thomas
Superb...wonderously effective and moving.
— The Washington Post Book World
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805210835
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Series: Elie Wiesel Collection
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 220
  • Sales rank: 785,200
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Elie Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The author of more than fifty internationally acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, he is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and University Professor at Boston University.

Biography

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky." Since the publication of this passage in Night, Elie Wiesel has devoted his life to ensuring that the world never forgets the horrors of the Holocaust, and to fostering the hope that they never happen again.

Wiesel was 15 years old when the Nazis invaded his hometown of Sighet, Romania. He and his family were taken to Auschwitz, where his mother and the youngest of his three sisters died. He and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before Allied forces liberated the camp in 1945. After the war, Wiesel attended the Sorbonne in Paris and worked for a while as a journalist. He met the Nobel Prize-winning writer Francois Mauriac, who helped persuade Wiesel to break his private vow never to speak of his experiences in the death camps.

During a long recuperation from a car accident in New York City in 1956, Wiesel decided to make his home in the United States. His memoir Night, which appeared two years later (compressed from an earlier, longer work, And the World Remained Silent), was initially met with skepticism. "The Holocaust was not something people wanted to know about in those days," Wiesel later said in a Time magazine interview.

But eventually the book drew recognition and readers. "A slim volume of terrifying power" (The New York Times), Night remains one of the most widely read works on the Holocaust. It was followed by over 40 more books, including novels, essay collections and plays. Wiesel's writings often explore the paradoxes raised by his memories: he finds it impossible to speak about the Holocaust, yet impossible to remain silent; impossible to believe in God, yet impossible not to believe.

Wiesel has also worked to bring attention to the plight of oppressed people around the world. "When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant," he said in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. "Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must -- at that moment -- become the center of the universe."

Though lauded by many as a crusader for justice, Wiesel has also been criticized for his part in what some see as the commercialization of the Holocaust. In his 2000 memoir And the Sea Is Never Full, Wiesel shares some of his own qualms about fame and politics, but reiterates what he sees as his duty as a survivor and witness:

''The one among us who would survive would testify for all of us. He would speak and demand justice on our behalf; as our spokesman he would make certain that our memory would penetrate that of humanity. He would do nothing else.''

Good To Know

Use of the term "Holocaust" to describe the extermination of six million Jews and millions of other civilians by the Nazis is widely thought to have originated in Night.

Two of Wiesel's subsequent works , Dawn and The Accident, form a kind of trilogy with Night. "These stories live deeply in all that I have written and all that I am ever going to write," the author has said.

President Jimmy Carter appointed Wiesel to be chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust in 1978. In 1980, Wiesel became founding chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He is also the founding president of the Paris-based Universal Academy of Cultures and cofounder of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.

Since 1969, Marion Wiesel has translated her husband Elie's books from French into English. They live in New York City and have one son.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Eliezer Wiesel (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 30, 1928
    2. Place of Birth:
      Sighet, Romania
    1. Education:
      La Sorbonne

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2002

    A Prisoner of Davarowsk

    When Elie Wiesel writes of Ariel, the Angel, the Jewish child of Davarowsk, he is writing about himself. He is writing about the child that was killed by Auschwitz and the Nazi's. He is describing the Angel that was reborn from that experience which allowed him to sustain his personal journey. It is a phenomenal read as he shares his most ugly and horrifying personal experience with the reader in this work of fiction. The prisoner of the dead Jews of Davarowsk is Elie Wiesel. He is a prisoner of the dead Jews of Auschwitz. He saved himself by having faith in himself...there was litte evidence of God in Davarowsk and no evidence of God in Auschwitz. This is fascinating and quite moving to watch this unfold before your eyes as you read it. It is autobiographical when he writes that he has called upon all those whose destinies that have fashioned mine. He in fact, in order to survive, did indeed have to mobilize all the resources of his energy, imagination and memory to sustain his belief in God.......and himself. Ultimately, Ariel, the living Angel that arose from the ashes of Auschwitz and Davarowsk, saved him......and as result, Ariel is alive to save humanity.

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