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The Emperor of Lies
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The Emperor of Lies

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  532 ratings  ·  99 reviews
From NYTimes

It would seem all the more difficult, then, from this remove in time and after so much retelling, to write a freshly felt, fully absorbing novel about the Holocaust — and yet that is precisely what Steve Sem-Sandberg has done. It is even more unexpected given that the novel, which has been translated from the Swedish, co
Kindle Edition, 672 pages
Published (first published 2009)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: I really do not know. Say three stars just to put a value here.

The Book Report: "There's no business like Shoah business." It's cynical, it's infuriating, and it's inevitable that this huge, horrific, and richly dramatic story should be exploited in a million different ways. This novel manages, seventy years after the fact, to find a new and interesting, if completely depressing, angle on the oft-told tale: The life and times of Chaim Rumkowski, the Eldest Jew as the Germans called him,
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
The Emperor is Naked

Some books puzzle me, the lavish praise they attract puzzles, verbal excesses that seem to set the world on one side and me on the other. I feel like the little girl who wants to cry out please, look; the emperor is naked!

It was a mood that came across me when I read The Kindly Ones, Jonathan Littell’s tome-like novel set in the Second World War. One hysterical commendation placed on the dust jacket by the publisher (naturally) compared it to War and Peace. It’s complete ru
I really need to think about this. It's a good but really depressing book. The writing is brillant.

I might come back and add more latter, but right now that's all I've got.

Low and behold it’s another non-detective novel from Sweden. That’s my second in a couple weeks. Could this be a publishing trend? Or is it that this novel The Emperor of Lies and The Long Ships are the only two Swedish novels that do not involve Perps.

Back in the land of Heidi and gruesome murder mysteries, The Emperor of Lies was big bestseller. It is a prize winning novel about the Lodzghetto by Steve Sem-Sandberg. Thanks to Sarah Death it has been translated into English.

The novel is based o
Mark Staniforth
Does the world really need another Holocaust novel? Not according to historian Simon Schama, who said, in a scathing review in the Financial Times, that 'The Emperor Of Lies' is 'all fugged up with the kind of "fine writing" that succeeds only in drawing attention to the emotional and moral void at its centre.'
The literary world is, of course (as Schama readily accepts) hardly placed to issue any kind of moratorium on Holocaust literature, and for all those who could not begin to contemplate wad
a masterpiece of literature destined to go through time as a benchmark and meditation of nazis in poland, ghettos of 1940 on, collaborators and resisters, and holocaust writings. swedish author sem-sandberg based much of this novel on the "ghetto encyclopedia" of lodz which has recently, and finally been printed, cataloged and made available and that he mined.
so, was Mordechai chaim rumkowski a megalomaniacal monster bent on sexually molesting his many orphans and ripping off as many jews of th
I know I offered to review this for Stu’s Shadow Independent Foreign Fiction Prize team, but having plodded through the first 51 pages of 664, it’s quite clear to me that I don’t like it at all, and so I’m not going to read the rest of it.

Simon Schama at The Financial Times says it so much better than I ever could: whatever is the point? If you are disposed to try to understand the unfathomable Holocaust, this tawdry novel is not going to help you, and if it is the only book about the Holocaust
Zohar -
The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg is an award winning historical fiction book. The book was translated from Swedish and tells about real life, as well as fictional characters.

The ghetto at Łódź, Poland has existed for two years. Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, the Nazi nominated “elder of Jews” is asked to supply 20,000 Jews for deportation. The lies and shadows of this complex man cover many pages of this book.

Adam Rzepin lives with his father and mentally ill sister. Adam is trying to survi
Ik heb heel lang na moeten denken over wat ik nou écht van dit boek vond. Door de enorme lof die de schrijver en het boek op de kaft toegezwaaid krijgen, heb ik namelijk het gevoel dat ik iets gemist heb. De indruk die bij mij overheerst is dat dit boek een verhaal vertelt dat het waard is om gehoord te worden, een goede aanvulling op de lange rijen Holocaust-vertellingen die alleen al opgemerkt dienen te worden ter nagedachtenis van en uit eerbied voor de slachtoffers. De geschiedenis van één v ...more
Eiríkur Norðdahl
Mér finnst lífið of stutt til að klára bækur sem ég næ ekki sambandi við. En stundum verða þær bækur furðulega margar – í fyrra var hlutfallið skuggalega hátt. Svo ég ákvað að drösla mér í gegnum Öreigana í Łodz jafnvel þótt hún væri búin að missa á mér takið, ég búinn að missa á henni takið, þótt hún væri tæpar 600 blaðsíður.

Ég veit ekki hvað það er við helfararbókmenntir sem gerir þær svona óþolandi. Mér þótti það áður en ég skrifaði Illsku, vel að merkja, og var ein aðalástæðan fyrir því að é
Possibly a masterpiece...we've had the Holocaust done in so many ways and think we know it all...but this uses fact in a new way, looking at how manipulative people are in survival mode.

The detail is extraordinnary as is the standard of unusually high standard these days...and althogh it is unrelentingly grim, that gets you to read on.

You'll be staggered at how people behave when you know it is factually based.

The one issue is: you don't engage with anyone as nobody is really sympath
Translated from the Swedish, this is a harrowing depiction of Chaim Rumkowski and his control of the Lodz ghetto and attempt to turn it into a Jewish 'state'....think of words such as 'harrowing', 'cruel', 'evil' and times them by 10.....the characters are almost Dickensian in their portrayal and the story leaves you bereft....Rumkowski the monstrous dictator, and yet, if the war has ended a few months / a year would he have been perceived then.....?
Skuli Saeland
Steve Sem-Sandberg lýsir hér í sögulegri skáldsögu sinn á hrollvekjandi máta örlögum gyðinga í gyðingagettóinu í Lodz í Síðari heimsstyrjöldinni. Örlög þeirra og gettóið hafa orðið alræmd vegna þess að æðsti öldungur þeirra, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, tók upp virkt samstarf við nasista í von um að það tryggði honum og helstu fylgismönnum hans grið fyrir morðæði SS-sveitanna. Hlutverk hans og gjörðir eru mjög umdeildar enn í dag, hann nýtti sér aðstöðu sína til að stjórna gettóinu sem harðstjóri ...more
Thom Dunn
{Advertised NYRB 9-29-2011: "In February 1940, the Nazis established a Jewish ghetto in the Polish city of Lodz. The leader they appointed was Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, a sixty-three-year-old Jewish businessman and orphanage director. The Emperor of Lies--a sensation throughout Europe--is the tale of Rumkowski's monarchical rule over a quarter-million Jews for four and a half years."

Farrar Straus Giroux
This is a well-written, interesting book, but the lenght, and impending sense of doom, made it hard to finish.

More than usual with Holocaust books, the story is overshadowed by what most people know to be the outcome, so everything feels entirely futile, and misguided.

Definitely worth pushing through, but this is not a book you can just finish in a day.
Heidi Murphy
One of the most vivid and disturbing Holocaust novels I've ever read, and yet I really didn't want this to end. A dark but utterly compelling tale of life in a Jewish ghetto.
Oh. My. God.

Also, I think I deserve like triple "Kevin Owens Points" for finishing this book.
By reading this historical novel about WWII that is on the topic of the Holocaust, I was deeply affected. I found that it was impossible to stay distant from the characters of The Emperor of Lies, those who were in the Łódź Ghetto, those who survived, those who were shipped away to die.

To be surrounded by danger, by violence and the threat of violence, every moment of your life is an incomparable experience, no matter what place or historical age that it may be. To know your own evil, and to be

During WWII, the Lodz ghetto was the last to be evacuated. Its chairman Rumkowski had turned it into a special production zone, whose inhabitants produced useful output for the German war economy and thus were spared the transfer to the extermination camps until very late in the war. At the same time, Rumkowski had to accommodate the Germans, and eliminate all non-productive elements from the ghetto, amongst which were its children. His notorious "Give me your children" speech is included in the ...more
It's a massive tome, 650pp, about the Lodz ghetto, and its leader, Chaim Rumkowski.

Rumkowski is usually thought of as a bad man, not because he collaborated with the Germans per se (what choice exactly did he have about that?) but because of the way he did so, in contrast to eg Adam Czerniakow, leader of the Warsaw ghetto. He believed (or pretended that he believed?) that if he could show the Germans how productive his ghetto was, they would allow it to remain in business, and refrain from kill
Inge Vermeire
In tegenstelling tot 'De welwillenden' van Jonathan Littell heb ik dit boek, ondanks de gruwelijke en weerzinwekkende beschrijvingen van het gettoleven, bijna in één keer uitgelezen. De auteur van dit boek heeft zich onwaarschijnlijk goed gedocumenteerd. Als lezer krijg je een zeer gedetailleerd, weliswaar zeer schrijnend beeld van de levensomstandigheden in één van de grootste getto's tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog..

Ik heb hier op goodreads in een kritiek op het boek gelezen dat de verhaallijn
Joseph Sverker
Det är bara att överlåta sig till den här boken helt och hållet. Sem-Sandberg drar in mig i misären och det förryckta hoppet som råder i Lodz. Jag lever på något sätt hela tiden i en känsla av att det blir värre, eftersom man känner till förintelselägrena, samtidigt känner jag den totala nöden och känslan av att det blir inte värre än såhär. Det är upprivandet av familjeband som kanske gör ondast här. I De fattiga i Lodz är det på något sätt extra ångestladdat att läsa om det. Det kan vara att j ...more
The Emperor of Lies: A Novel, by Steve Sem-Sandberg is quite the ambitious undertaking, and filled with exceptional, emotional and horrific captures of history. The book has left me for weeks unable to totally formulate a review due to the unimaginable content.

The novel revolves around Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski and his dynamics within the Lodz Ghetto in Poland during World War II. His actions have been debated, applauded and also detested throughout the decades. His motivations have been questio
In 1939 as the Nazis furthered their reign of terror on Poland and quarantined a large number of Jews into the Lodz ghetto, Chaim Rumkowski presented himself as a representative of his people. The understanding was that he would help control his people by making them useful to the government and turning them into a massive workforce. The Nazis, glad to further exploit this population agree to Rumkowski's offer and allow him almost unfettered power over the ghetto. Through this agreement, a few t ...more
Patricia O'Sullivan
Lodz, Poland was home to the second-largest Jewish ghetto during the Second World War. Established in 1940 with a population of 230,000, it was liquidated in 1944. When Soviet troops liberated the ghetto in 1945 only 877 people were living there. The Emperor of Lies is the story of the Lodz ghetto. In particular, it is the story of the ghetto’s controversial leader, Jewish businessman Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski. Appointed by the Nazis, Rumkowski turned the ghetto into a factory over which he cont ...more
Bearing profound witness
Known as the "Chairman," Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski led the Jewish Council, the governing body of the Lodz Ghetto in German occupied Poland. He was a person of immense ambition with a vision that industrialization would make the ghetto community indispensible to the Germans.

The Chairman's dream was that the Lodz Ghetto would become a place where "here the lamp of industry would be kept burning, here there was production as had never been seen before. And everyone had some
Aylin Karagöz
Lodz’un Yoksulları, Nazilerin Polonya’nın ikinci büyük şehri Lodz’da kurduğu Yahudi gettosunu ve kendisi de bir Yahudi olan Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski’nin hayatını anlatan bir roman.

Aralık, 1939’da kurulan ve “Litzmannstadt” olarak adlandırılan gettoda en ince ayrıntısına kadar şeytanca planlanmış Yahudi Soykırımı’nın nasıl gerçekleştiği ve yankılandığına dair gerçek bir edebiyat. Steve Sem-Sandberg, okuyucuyu dört yıl süresince aç bırakılan ve ağır koşullarda çalıştırılan 200,000 Yahudinin yaşad
Mark Berger
Lodz im September 1942. Im jüdischen Getto herrscht ein hartes Regiment. Der Verwalter trimmt die Zwangsarbeiter auf höchste Produktivität, kürzt Lebensmittelrationen, von denen sowieso kaum einer leben kann, entscheidet über Leben und Tod. Sein Leben ist erheblich angenehmer, mit eigenem Wagen, Sommerresidenz und gut gefüllter Speisekammer. Dabei ist er selbst ein Jude: Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, genannt der „Präses“, die Hauptfigur des halb-dokumentarischen Romans „Die Elenden von Lodz“ des sc ...more
I almost feel tongue tied trying to describe this novel. For it is a novel, a history and a truth entwined into one, and I felt like I was witnessing a fast train passing by me. I knew the ending at the beginning, and even though I wanted to back away, it compelled me to read, even though it was a bit of a tough read. Mostly because I have been scared off by 600 page bricks of books lately I was unsure I would make it to the end, but managed to finish it in two nights of heavy reading.

For me this book combined with at the same time travel around in Poland was a good way to better understand our history.

I have the last week been visiting Lods, Warszawa and fragments of ghetto Wall and the Uprising Museum, Auswitch and also doing a lot of geocaching where e.g. visiting places like the Russian graves in Lodz, the "Monument to the Victims of the Katyń Massacre." 30000 Polish soldier where kilked - in Wroclaw, visiting station Radegast i Lodz where the Jews where sent to Auswitch
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Steve Sem-Sandberg was born in 1958. He is the author of The Emperor of Lies. Sem-Sandberg divides his time between Vienna and Stockholm.
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