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3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,450 Ratings  ·  211 Reviews
The prevailing image of European Jews during the Holocaust is one of helpless victims, but in fact many Jews struggled against the terrors of the Third Reich. In Defiance, Nechama Tec offers a riveting history of one such group, a forest community in western Belorussia that would number more than 1,200 Jews by 1944--the largest armed rescue operation of Jews by Jews in Wor ...more
Audiobook, Digital
Published February 1st 2009 by Playaway (first published 1993)
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Feb 15, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Defiance' just made it to the NY Times paperback best seller list even tho it came out more than 15 years ago. The reason for its popularity now, of course, is that the film has been released and has created interest in the story and in Nechama Tec's book.

That's why I read it. After seeing the film, I wanted to know more about the Bielski brothers/partisans and what really happened in the forest. As I suspected, the film does not do justice to the book, or, even more important, to what actuall
There are two books about the Bielski partisan group that I know of; the other is Peter Duffy's The Bielski Brothers. Both books were good but I found Tec's to be the better of the two. Her writing gave a better sense of what daily life was like in the Bielski camp, possibly because she herself was a "hidden child" Holocaust survivor. Tec was also able to interview Zus and Tuvia Bielski before their deaths, whereas Duffy didn't start writing his book until the brothers (excepting Aron, the young ...more
Emma Kelleway
Mar 13, 2013 Emma Kelleway rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read Defiance because last year I saw the film version of it and I enjoyed the film (even though it was sad) and found the film very interesting. So I finally brought a copy of the book and read it.
I have decided to put this book into the ‘A book based on a true story category’ on the bingo board, as this book is based on a true story. This book wasn’t quite what I had expected it to be. I expected it to be more of a story about what had happened in The Bielski otraid and the exper
Daniel L.
A Critically Important Chronicle of True Heroes

The passivity of the Jews during the Holocaust is a hotly debated topic - why are the Jews of World War II Europe so often portrayed as being passive, even being accessories to their own extermination. Much of this argument can be put to rest in reading the about underground dairies of Emmanuel Ringelblum (the Onyeg Shabbat), the lively intellectual and artistic achievements at Terezin and elsewhere, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and the partisans, fr
Westminster Library
Oct 17, 2016 Westminster Library rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drew
The book is a gripping account of the true story of the Bielski brothers who fled the German invasion during World War II and set up a village in the forest of Belorussia. Their efforts and resourcefulness saved thousands of Jewish lives. It is fascinating to learn how the group survived living off the land and stealing from nearby farmers and peasants. But they not only survived they fought against the Nazis and they started a mission to save as many Jews from extermination as they could. I vie ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Becky rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I was excited to read this book because the introduction said it wasn't a book based on the movie. The movie was based on this book. But after four chapters I finally had to stop - it was so dry. This isn't a novel at all. I thought it was going to be a novel because on the back it says "based on the extraordinary true story..." It was like reading a documentary. The style of the book was really choppy - with stories and then quotes.
I was really disappointed because a novel based on these event
Feb 11, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-wwii
Defiance paints a very good picture of what life as a partisan was like. Tec presents the life warts and all, even presenting detail about how the locals felt about the partisans. At one level the book fails. Tec seems to be trying to paint a picture of partisan life and write a biography of Tuvia Bielski, as a biography the book fails. The reader never really gets a sense of knowing any of the Bielski brothers. The only person that readers seems to know is Chaja Bielski, possibly because of the ...more
Nov 29, 2016 Leah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mature readers interested in Holocaust History
Shelves: history
I should begin by saying I read this book because I recently rewatched the movie Defiance about the Bielskis and the Jews who hid in the forest.

This was a book I went into expecting to love it and rave about it afterward. I ended up being both fascinated, disappointed, and ultimately let down. The fascination came from wanting to learn more about the formation, the every day struggle for survival, and the ins and outs of the "Forest Jews" and how they survived the war, evading their enemies. Th
May 30, 2013 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ended up reading this book after really liking Beyond Courage The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport which had a small chapter on the Bielski brothers. The book covers the story of these brothers, Tuvia, Zus and Asael Bielski who from 1942-1944 created a community of Jewish refugees in the forests of Belorussia who escaped from the Germans and created a haven for themselves and fellow Jews. Tuvia was commander of the group, which was linked to Soviet partisan groups and struggled for existence from both Soviet and Nazi threats. It was fascinati ...more
Mostly what I know about the Jews urging the war cones from school, which was mostly consentration camps and gas chambers, so when I saw the film a coupleof years back, it was great to see a new view and one that showed there were survivors out there. On browsing the charity shop for books for an elderly aunt, I spotted this and for 75p couldn't resist! And finally I sit down to read it. It's not a story as such, more of a factual book based on interviews with people that went through this. It w ...more
Feb 16, 2009 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an encouraging story about the largest armed rescue of Jews during WWII. In Belorussia Tuvia Bielski and his brothers started a group that would not submit to the Nazi invaders of Poland. Creating a Jewish community in the forests, escapees from ghettos had a place to flee before they were slaughtered in mass executions. At the end of the war the community had grown to over 1200 men women and Children.

The subject material itself was great. I longed to here about Jews who resisted the Naz
Feb 18, 2009 Grace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Grace by: Mandy Morrell
Fascinating. Approximately 1200 Jews survive World War II by living in the forests of Poland.I admit my ignorance of such partisan groups performing guerrilla warfare and subsistence living in order to survive and of the Bielski Partisans in particular for trying to save as many Jews as possible, even if they came dressed in rags, with no food, money, or weapons. It saddens me that this glimmer of hope during one of the darkest times in the world's history was not covered in any of my history cl ...more
Gloria Piper
Aug 11, 2012 Gloria Piper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Defiance tells the story about Jews during WWII, not as meek victims but as fighters for survival. Tuvia Bielski, a Belorussian peasant, has the necessary charisma to lead an independently minded people--not an easy task but vital. Tec puts a human face on history as she relates the struggles and resourcefulness of individuals who must adapt or die. Unlike many partisans, Tuvia values life so highly that he welcomes all Jews, into his protection, regardless of whether others consider them useful ...more
Jessie Blackwood
Amazing and poignant story of people who set out to save their Jewish countrymen from Nazi Germany by living in the forests of the Belarus. The bunkers they lived in are still there, testament to their tenacity and courage. I would love to have met Tuvia, and god knows how many people rode in his taxi and never knew or even gave him the time of day. Never, ever judge a book by its cover. Never disrespect a man for following a menial job. Who knows what lies beneath the surface of a seemingly ave ...more
Lady Knight
Jun 25, 2010 Lady Knight rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was an amazing story. I've read plenty of WWII and Holocaust literature (fiction and non) and I have to say that this was extraordinary. It was a look that I'd never seen before. Before this I'd only read from the viewpoint of soldiers on the front line, germans fighting inside of Hitler's Third Reich, and from the viewpoint of Jews destined for the concentration camps. While all of those are worthy tales, "Defiance" tells the true story of Jews, led by Tuvia Bielski, who refused to become ...more
Impressive work by Nechama Tec-I learned a lot. The extensive research the author did on Jewish resistance during World War 2 and the insights she gained from interviewing surviving members of the Bielski otriad made for a fascinating read. I was impressed by the fact that she gave her interview subjects a choice of four different languages to speak during their interviews-I'm assuming this means she speaks all four herself-Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish and English.
The focus of the book is on the lea
Aug 31, 2007 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This author taught a couple of my classes at UCONN. She was a cool lady and a Holocaust survivor. She's written a few other books, but this was the only one I read all the way through.

It's a great story about the Bielski brothers--European Jews during WWII that led a band of armed partisans who hid in the forests and actually allowed women and children to stay with them despite the insane danger involved. They actually had a whole Jewish mini city in a thick swampy forest in Eastern Europe (I th
Apr 12, 2009 Vicky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awkwardly written, but the subject matter transcends style. Mind-boggling account of a Jewish partisan unit in Belorussia during World War II. The group not only survived (amazing enough) and participated in the resistance but built a mobile town, a civilization, in the forest. Incredible.
Mar 14, 2014 Sabrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sabrina by: Amy
I want to read this AGAIN!!
Dec 15, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
Tato kniha je dokument. Sociologická studie Nechama Tec. Výborná, dobře se poslouchá (Stefan Rudnicki). Film je úplně jiný kafe (Daniel Craig) a je skvělý. Nelze srovnávat, každé má svoje.
Aug 13, 2015 Lance rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a long time I have been looking for a version of the Robin Hood story to blow my socks off. When I was little, I watched Disney’s Robin Hood, and also saw Kevin Costner’s infamous turn as the Prince of Thieves. I can clearly recall the romantic emotions those versions of the story drew out of me. Time and perspective have, as one may guess, tarnished my view of those films. Since then I have kept my eye out for a work of fiction whose objective quality lives up to the character’s impact that ...more
16/11 - Finally finished. This was a difficult book to read. It was too dense to really hold my attention and all those footnotes broke up the flow of the reading, making it even harder. I had trouble taking in the information I was reading. Whenever I took a break in order to sleep or because other books took precedence due to library due dates or simple lack of interest I found that when I went back to the book I couldn't remember what had been happening except in the vaguest way - WWII was ha ...more
Louise Fligman
May 20, 2017 Louise Fligman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very powerful and moving read

Having enjoyed the film, my interest was piqued to read the book; I wanted to learn more about the Bielski Otriad and its formation and time in the forest. Having now finished Defiance, I can confidently say that the whilst the film is good, the book has far more depth. History is given about the Bielski family and how and when Tuvia decided to rescue Jews. I did not realise just how vital a role Tuvia played in rescuing hundreds of Jewish individuals. His selfless
May 22, 2017 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tremendous story, Tuvia Bielski sheltered and saved over1200 Jews from extermination. While some of his methods were harsh, it was wartime and survival was difficult. The people needed a strong leader and her certainly was one. This is an amazing piece of history which is rarely shared and should be. It tells much about this brave group, and almost as much about the Germans and Russians as well.
Feb 25, 2017 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author Nechama Tec is a holocaust scholar. In this book, she profiles Tuvia Bielski and his brothers, Asael and Zus, who saved over 1200 Jews in the forest of Belarus during the Second World War. Daniel Craig's picture on the cover might imply that this book's hero resembles James Bond. He does not. Tuvia Bielski had none of Bond's slick gadgets or shaken martinis at his disposal. He had no budget. His only resources were his strength, his stubbornness, and his determination to save every Jewish ...more
Lauren Rev
Apr 27, 2017 Lauren Rev rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This book fills a gap in history as it has been assumed that most Jews went passively to their fates when overcome by the Nazis. However in the forests of Belorussia, Jews escaped ghettoes and Nazi persecution by setting up camps in which to live. Conditions at the camps were difficult but the people were free. More a biography of Tuvia Bieleski than anything, the book did however go into conditions in the ghettoes & villages & the camps once the Nazis had conquered this part of Russia. ...more
Amanda Whitbeck
Mar 23, 2016 Amanda Whitbeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the years since middle school, I have read as many books as possible about the Holocaust. I’ve watched almost every documentary and movie, but this book was definitely a new perspective for me. In everything I’ve read and watched, no one has even mentioned The Bielski Partisans or any of the Jewish resistance groups on the outside. There have been heart breaking tales of surviving the ghetto just to be sent to a camp and then barely surviving that. I’ve read re-tellings of hiding in inhuman ...more
Dec 20, 2016 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When considering the history of groups engaged in partisan warfare in Nazi occupied territory in Eastern Europe in World War II, most of the attention goes to the Polish and Soviet controlled groups. Other than the Warsaw ghetto uprising, armed resistance by Jewish groups generally goes unmentioned. However, there was one significant group of Jewish partisans that operated in western Belorussia and was commanded by Tuvia Bielski. Hence the name given to the group.
The Bielski group was differe
Dec 29, 2009 Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Defiance, also known as Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, describes how the leadership of Tuvia Bielski and his brothers helped save 1200 Jews in Nazi-occupied Belorussia. Unwilling to be taken to the ghetto by the Germans, the Jewish brothers escaped to the forest, which they knew well. They were joined by family and friends there, though they also lost some of their loved ones. Their partisan community – the Bielski Otriad – continued to grow in numbers as others escaped to the forest
this is an amazing book. not just because it held my interest from chapter to chapter, but because the story is true and incredible.

My husband rented the movie and when he told me it was a true story i got the book from the library the next day.

the book is written as a non-fiction history not as a narrative. the author really did her research by conducting personal interviews with those involved and from other archived information.

Tuvia and his brothers were not going to become captured by th
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