The Wall
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The Wall

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  1,086 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Riveting & compelling, The Wall tells the inspiring story of forty men & women who escape the dehumanizing horror of the Warsaw ghetto. John Hersey's novel documents the Warsaw ghetto both as an emblem of Nazi persecution & as a personal confrontation with torture, starvation, humiliation & cruelty--a gripping, visceral story, impossible to put down.
Paperback, 640 pages
Published March 12th 1988 by Vintage Books (first published 1950)
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Emily
Jun 20, 2008 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Emily by: My grandma, Friedl Bartek
I am not surprised if you have not heard of this book, but please, please read it. It's one of the most incredible pieces of literature I have ever picked up. It is the archives of a man named Noach Levinson who lived through the Warsaw ghetto and chronicled in minute detail his experiences and the lives of those around him. It is both fascinating and terribly heartbreaking to see the way in which the Jews in Warsaw were systematically destroyed through the eyes of one of their own. I have never...more
Andrew
Author John Hersey was a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, best known for his small first person account of the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima, called Hiroshima.

And when he writes historical fiction, as he does in The Wall, it is very close to actual events. Based on the real documents found buried inside the destroyed Jewish ghetto of Warsaw after WWII ended, it tells the story of the Jews who were trapped there by the Nazis who took over Poland in 1939, and the escalating determination to...more
Lacey
I first read this book as a 16 year old almost 40 years ago. Although I have read literally thousands of books since then, this one I remember to this day. It was the book that personalized the Holocaust for me as much as, or even more than Flowers in the Attic, much as Schindlers List has done for so many more recently, and sparked a life long interest in the Jewish culture as well. I have added it to my read again list, something I rarely do.
S.B. Lerner
This is written in an unusual style, as if a historian was keeping a diary of the events he witnessed in the Warsaw Ghetto, along with interviews of the inhabitants. The preface refers to the Levinson Archives, discovered after that war. Of course, that's just part of the fiction, but it was so believable, I didn't realize it at first.
Despite the terrifying situation, most of the book is about relationships and personalities. Levinson, a recluse, finds a spirit of camaraderie and a "family" as...more
Heather Nelson
This was a strange book. Because it is written as the archival records of Noach Levinson, there are large sections that are boring and dry. While that is the author's purpose, that particular style (the style of a recordist at governmental meetings) doesn't float my boat. However, some of the story is captivating and horrifying. I cried over some characters' deaths (however, typical of the author's style throughout the novel, the author would mention thee deaths in passing, giving some less impo...more
itpdx
This is a fictional account of the Warsaw ghetto uprising during WWII. This was the largest Jewish uprising against the Nazis. The story follows a "family" of Jews thrown together by various circumstances including an archivist. I have wondered what the Jews felt and thought as the Nazi's herded them into a ghetto surrounded by walls that the Jews themselves had built. Why it took until over 400,000 Jews had been killed, died of starvation or illness or had been sent to Treblinka before the resi...more
Sarah
This book is completely fictional, but is based on true event of the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII. The book is written as a "journal" or "archive." Hersey worked as a journalist and his gift of journalism is evident in this fictional piece. The format of the book takes a little getting used to, entries are not always in chronological order and they are written with some initials or abbreviations. Once I was able to get into the style of writing, I was caught off guard by the depth and the meaning o...more
Marcia
I read this many years ago and was completely pulled into the story. I found the pull when re-reading it.

One of its main strengths are the characterization of the people and the relationships between them. Another is its historical accuracy.

It reminds us of what can happen when we allow evil to reign; but it also reminds us of the good in people that can come out in the midst of evil.
LauraW
I read this book when I was in 8th grade (approximately 1961), so I don't remember much about it. It was motivating enough, though, that I read all 640 pages for a book report.
dead letter office
john hersey has always been one of my favorites. he writes about all kinds of stuff. race relations in the algiers motel incident and letter to the alumni, the dropping of the atomic bomb in hiroshima, the commodification of children in the child buyer, a good soldier in a bell for adano, and the uprising in the warsaw ghetto in the wall. he has the unusual ability to be morally outraged while seeing the good in people. even as an old man, he seemed willing to tear the world down to make...more
Ross
We probably all read Hiroshima in Grade School or Junior High; and while that is definitely a good book, having to read him for school may have turned you off of John Hersey. If that's the case, I urge you to reconsider, and pick up The Wall.

This fictional account of the Warsaw Ghetto covers the implementation, construction, governing, and revolt; all from the perspective of journals written by a member of the central group of characters. The characters are wonderfully crafted, engaging, and bea

...more
Margrit Belfi
Geweldig maar ook tragisch maar een must
Allison
This is the third time I've read this; my grandfather (an English teacher) suggested this to me when I was 7 or 8th grade, telling me, "the first 150 pages are slow, keep going. It'll be worth it." On my 3rd reading now, 16 years later, I can only say:

He is right. It gets better. In fact, it gets breathtaking.

Still one of my all-time favorites.
Sarah
I was led to this author through Orson Scott Card who calls him one of his favorite aouthors. Hersey's book is a powerful study of human nature and a thorough literary depiction of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. One of the best WWII books I ever read.
N
I got about 100 pages into this 700+ page book, and gave up. The writing style (translated) is interesting, but it's a very detailed and slow-moving account. Great to have for historical posterity, but not an entertaining read.
Susie
You have to totally be interested in the time period, but it brought the whole Warsaw Ghetto experience to life. It was really really good!
Karen
Will remain one of the most influential books on the Holocaust that I have read. Perhaps because it was the first
Bap
Count this as a 4.5. Warsaw ghetto for the Jews in World War II and later the uprising. Very intense.
Ellen
Tremendous. Hard to read, as any novel set in the Warsaw ghetto should be. And yet I could not put it down.
Julie
appreciating life...the ultimate lesson in "don't sweat the small stuff".
Keith Slade
Pretty good novel of the Warsaw ghetto uprising (also see The Bravest Battle).
Bambi
I wonder why this isn't required reading in high school?
Deborah
Excellent. Great story of the Warsaw uprising.
Judyb
finished; did not like the daily diary approach.
Lori Spier
The Wall by John Hersey (1953)
Cws
Apr 25, 2009 Cws added it
Shelves: adult-fiction
F Her
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Sep 15, 2014
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John Richard Hersey was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer and journalist considered one of the earliest practitioners of the so-called New Journalism, in which storytelling devices of the novel are fused with non-fiction reportage. Hersey's account of the aftermath of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, was adjudged the finest piece of journalism of the 20th century by a 36-member...more
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