Wartime Lies
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Wartime Lies

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  341 ratings  ·  34 reviews
As the world slips into the throes of war in 1939, young Maciek's once closeted existence outside Warsaw is no more. When Warsaw falls, Maciek escapes with his aunt Tania. Together they endure the war, running, hiding, changing their names, forging documents to secure their temporary lives — as the insistent drum of the Nazi march moves ever closer to them and to their sec...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 15th 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published 1991)
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Nan
Love, love, love this book. This was the first Begley that I read, and I do like him so much, but this is hands down the best one. Amazingly, not a single attribution in the whole thing. Quick, heartbreaking, and so vividly written that I can still remember so many scenes as if I saw them in a movie, and I read it years ago.

The protagonist's aunt - apparently he's never said one way or another the degree to which this is autobio, but there's a lot of speculation that it's pretty close - is an a...more
Curt
It is essential to always remember what human beings have done and can do to each other. Cruelty and a lust for violence may or may not be innate, but in a time of fear, in a culture of survival, compassion is the rarest of human traits. These are important lessons, but they can overwhelm you if you immerse yourself in them for too long.

Which is why Wartime Lies, like The Painted Bird, is a gripping, harrowing book that I will never read again.

One more thing to consider is the contrast between t...more
Eileen
This incredibly well-written novel is not the typical - if you'll forgive calling a Holocaust survival story 'typical' - story of a survivor of WWII. The perspective is that of a Jewish boy in Poland who never sees a concentration camp, but lives a different kind of trauma in hiding his Jewish identity throughout the war. The novel addresses many complexities, but for me ultimately raised questions of "honorable" choice: is there more honor in surviving a war, and in this case escaping the worst...more
Erin
Wartime lines portrayed a seemingly fictional account of a young Jewish boy in Poland, and his experiences during WWII under the care of his aunt. With the assistance of lies, false papers with fake identities, and the quick, cunning nature of his aunt, the two were able to survive the war without capture or death. The book is narrated from the young boy's point of view and provides a unique viewpoint into the drastic measures individuals would take survive during the war. It was a slight surpri...more
Christina
Die autobiographische Geschichte dreht sich um den 9-jährigen Maciek, seinen Großvater und seine Tante Tanja zur Zeit des Zweiten Weltkrieges in Polen. Die Familie (zunächst mit der Großmutter) erlebt den Krieg und die zusehends systematische Verfolgung der Juden zunächst in polnischen Großstädten (Warschau, Krakau) und schließlich in ländlich-abgelegenen Dörfern. Viele Städte und Dörfer werden nicht genannt (T., R., W.), andere wiederum schon.
Tanja und Maciek schlagen sich durch Opportunismus u...more
Tony
WARTIME LIES. (1991). Louis Begley. ***.
This first novel by this author of “About Schmidt,” tells the story of a small town in “T”, Poland, just prior to and during WW II. It focuses on the plight of the Jews there as the Nazis take over. Maciek was a young boy when we first meet him. He is being raised by his father and his aunt, Tania. Tania, according to Jewish tradition, should have married her sister’s husband when she died giving birth to Macied, but she chose not to do so – even though s...more
Scott E
The first I've read by Begley, and his first...not a bad place to start. A nine year old Jewish boy forced to grow up quickly as he and his aunt are on the run attempting to avoid the Nazis. Told the boy's perspective, there isn't a great deal of Nazi atrocity...but still enough to piss you off and make you want to grind the broken end of a coke bottle into Hitler's throat. But I digress.

Begley tells the story with little sentimentality. This is almost a coming of age story, and I wonder if any...more
Shifra
Well written novel, takes place in Poland during the Holocaust period. The main character a young jewish boy never sees the interior of a concentration camp, but instead with his aunt pass themselves off as Aryans but come close to being discovered a number of times. Definitely recommend.
Andrew
I was made aware of this book some time ago in terms of "the film Kubrick never made."

I finally found a copy on a trip to NY some years ago and have just re-read it.

Following the story of a young boy and his aunt as they attempt to hide from the Nazis - they have to pass themselves off as Aryans.

A good read, short, and entirely seen from the viewpoint of the young boy.

Also worth checking out is the "visual installation" made by the Wilson Sisters, Jane and Louise - they took some of the Kubrick...more
Frank O'connor
This is an extraordinary book about the human condition. It deals with the holocaust obliquely, through the filter of memory, childhood and absence. It brings the thing home, through the window, in a single amazing paragraph of great impact. The child of the story is not an innocent but neither is he completely aware. The complete absence of judgement from the narrative only emphasizes the fragility of justice itself, in addition to the fragility of the central characters. The manner in which th...more
Ryan
Overall, a good book told from the perspective of a young Jewish boy living in Poland during the German invasion of WWII. After having read a large number of adult war novels, this book is aimed at a younger audience and would be a great introduction to any young person looking to learn about this particular time in history. The highlight of this book would be the account of the boys time spent in Warsaw during the uprising in the Jewish ghetto.
John
Vividly harrowing and disturbing story of survival during the Holocaust. Stanley Kubrick wrote a screenplay of this book and then declined to make it into a film - claiming it was too close to Schindler's List (not true -- more similar to The Pianist nine years later, IMO) and too depressing to adequately depict on screen, which it may be. Great book nonetheless, that would have been perfectly suited to Kubrick's genius.
Shirley
The author uses the experiences of a Polish/Jewish boy to describe the horrors of Nazi occupied Poland. It was a very sad and sometimes horrifying subject,but easy to keep reading because of the child's perspective. Both his inner thoughts and feelings that were like other boys and the extraordinary circumstances and behaviors he had by necessity for survival provided balance.
Kris McCracken
An austere recount of a childhood spent by a Jewish boy during the Nazi occupation. A measured, deliberately cold tone throughout results in an emotionally flat narrative that is out of kilter with the content. I really enjoyed this (as much as you can 'enjoy' a Holocaust memoir. The key point around the costs of physically surviving to the psyche of a child is profound. A-.
Heather
A unique book, in regard to WWII from a Jewish standpoint. These Jews weren't captured by the Nazis, and were able to hide out for the entire war. This story is from the view of an adolescent boy, and tells of his growing up while hiding in Poland from the Germans the entirety of the war. The constant awkward sex-related scenes were weird, but other than that it was good.
Ray
Truth be told, I'd probably give this a 3.5 but went with 3 as it wasn't a strong 3.5. There were many nice things about this book, but overall it is just another Wartime Remembrance that doesn't seem to offer any new insights. The writing is strong though and definitely worth reading for those interested in the tragedies of that time
Julius Lang
Jan 14, 2008 Julius Lang rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Julius by: my firend john
I couldn't put this one down - the biggest (ugly) thing I learned from this book was how the people in neighboring countries during WW2 (in this case, poland) embraced the nazis' anti-semitism with such apparent vigor.
Kristin Schuck
Obviously the subject matter is heart wrenching. For some reason, perhaps because I chose to read this on vacation, i felt like I was skittering over the surface of this book rather than getting involved with the characters.
Cat
This book is beautiful and desperate. It is different from any other story I've read about The Holocaust. I realize now that it is possible for people to lose more than their lives.
Brian Cole
The Nazi's persecution and murder of the Jews created such an ethical turmoil. A young boy and his aunt assume Catholic roles in Poland to survive. There are repurcussions.
Marci
I enjoyed this book a lot. Simply written and yet so packed with story. A boy grows up during the WWII in Poland. Sad but not so detailed that is pulls you down too far.
Katie
Read this book for a graduate class. It wasn't overly compelling. I've read other novels about the Holocaust that are much more interesting.
HG
A very moving survival story of a young boy in Poland during WWII, the German atrocities, and what human beings are capable off.
Liam89
The horror of the Nazi occupation of Poland told through the innocent eyes of a child. Revealing, arresting, and very moving.
Kathy
Worth a read if you have an interest in Holocaust literature.Louis Begley is an author with a rich, personal history.
Dragana
Begley's debut (at 57) is nothing like the novels that followed, for better or worse. The man knows writing!
Tracey Jackson
Great book by an extraordinary writer. The war through a child's eyes, with adult clarity.
Mogulito
Not a single bit of dialogue but somehow manages to let you hear every characters voice perfectly.
Louie
Jun 06, 2013 Louie added it
A brilliant written contemporary historical document, affecting and thrilling!
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Louis Begley is an American novelist.

Begley was born Ludwik Begleiter in Stryi at the time part of Poland and now in Ukraine, as the only child of a physician. He is a survivor of the Holocaust due to the multiple purchases of Aryan papers by his mother and constant evasion of the Nazis. They survived by pretending to be Polish Catholic. The family left Poland in the fall of 1946 and settled in N...more
More about Louis Begley...
About Schmidt (Schmidt, #1) Memories of a Marriage Matters of Honor Schmidt Delivered (Schmidt, #2) Shipwreck

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