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Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  2,147 ratings  ·  119 reviews
During World War II, Nazi doctor Josef Mengele subjected some 3,000 twins to medical experiments of unspeakable horror; only 160 survived. In this remarkable narrative, the life of Auschwitz's Angel of Death is told in counterpoint to the lives of the survivors, who until now have kept silent about their heinous death-camp ordeals.
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 1st 1992 by Penguin Books (first published April 1st 1991)
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Mummy
I will have to think long and hard about how I am going to review this very unusual book - not just subject matter but the way it is written and laid-out, although it is not in the least bit gimmicky. For now... it was brilliant, it is a lot to think over, it explains, if not excuses, why the Israelis are so very hard on their enemies.

It is perhaps the only book anyone need read to understand the Holocaust and to know that it wasn't over when it was over and that forgiving one's enemies might be
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Neal Klein
“Children of the Flames” does not set out to be a bad book. It tries to follow the experiences of several Mengele twins chronologically from before the War throughout the lives of the interviewees. The style of chronicling the lives of many people in this way might work for a newspaper series that is broken into stages over many days, but for a book, it doesn’t quite work. Many of the people I spoke to who read the book found that they were referring back to the beginning to be sure they were re ...more
Eugene
Definitely not what I expected, but not in a bad way either. After reading some of the reviews I was prepared for horror stories, violence, and emotion. The book incorporated these factors maybe once or twice. It made for some very cold, factual reading, all of which centered on Josef Mengele, despite the title of the book. Which is not to say that that's a bad thing, but don't expect it to read like a novel, because it's more like a history book/documentary type than anything else. So let me ma ...more
Joletta
Not for the faint of heart. This book is a really interesting story of Dr Mengele. History like this should never be forgotten or overlooked.
Rowan MacBean
Let me start out by saying, if you have any interest in this subject at all, give this book a read. It focuses on the people involved, instead of on the particulars of what took place, so I was able to absorb a lot of information and still come away from it actually thinking instead of just having nightmares. It's one of the most approachable and interestingly put together books on this subject I've ever found; the facts about Mengele are given in a story-like format instead of in an overly stuf ...more
Maureen
I always worried that if I read books about the holocaust, it would make me some kind of grisly voyeur. Since I spent the summer reading about the history of the second World War, and have done a lot of thinking about the topic, I that I was finally capable of truly putting the holocaust in its proper context. This is the latest in a series of books I have read on this and the related subjects of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

This book is laid out in an unusual fashion: it alternates between me
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MAP
This was an odd little book.

The premise is quite interesting: it follows the Mengele twins' (the ones the author could find) lives before, during, and after Auschwitz, and follows Mengele's life as well. The author creates what another viewer called a "documentary style" book, where as Mengele's life unfolds, so do the twins...so for example, as Mengele flees Germany to go to Argentina, we also "cut to" several of the twins' accounts of their own flight from Germany to Israel/Western Europe/the
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♥ Marlene♥
Not sure what to think of this book. It was definitely interesting but I expected to hear more about the twins and Mengele (see the title) while in Auschwitz. This story was more about Mengele. (He is not a doctor as the authors mentioned in this book, so why call him a doctor in the title I do not understand by the way)
This book was most about Mengele life after the war. It got confusing to me reading about the twins because of the way the book was written.
Every time at least one twins story w
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Charlie
This is a Good book to read simply because of the notes from the 'Twins of Auschwitz.' I think there is way too much info on Josef Mengele, a ruthless killer, and not enough info on the Twins story. The Twins story begins as they entered Auschwitz and ends on what their current circumstances were at the publishing date of 1991.
I could easily have rated this book as a 3 but the letters/interviews were well worth the reading of this book.
Vitaliy
Dec 08, 2014 Vitaliy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Vitaliy by: internet
"Children of The Flames" I always think when im going to read a book I’m not going to like it, especially when it’s about the Holocaust! Before I read this book just reading the title “Children of The Flames” sounded very terrifying, because it sounds like it’s going to be about burning children!

This book set up in a way such as memories of the twin survivors and the life of Josef Mengele, or know as "The Angel of Death!" The twins' memories are very sad and painful to hear sometimes. Since most
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Christie
A disturbing yet truly interesting account of Dr. Josef Mengele and the twins who were personally selected subjects for his heinous medical experiments at Auschwitz. There is a common thread that binds these twins who survived Auschwitz and that is that many of them suffer from nightmares, an inability to find enjoyment in life's precious and simple moments, a sense of survivor's guilt and anger that Dr. Mengele was never formally prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, even in ab ...more
Gretchen
What to say about this book? So awful to read, but important. I like the way the writer structured it with the biographical information of Mengele in between accounts of survivors. It drew attention to how severely twisted he was, and how nothing forced him or cajoled him into being so, he just was. He had a relatively normal life before WWII. The book draws light on part of the Holocaust that isn't as well known. Also, it shows how inept some of the prosecution of the Nazis was, as Mengele was ...more
Lori Anderson
Oh boy. This is a truly sobering read. Twins were Mengele's favorite subject, and his experiments were truly horrific. What's interesting about this book is through the words of the surviving twins, we learn how some of them grew to trust Mengele, in large part because he kept them from the crematoriums. It's also an interesting insight into Mengele himself, how he grew up, and how he handled himself at the camps. The point of a finger, and he rules lives.

Lori Anderson

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Ali
Great book.
Heart breaking.
Disgusting.
But strangely hopeful too.
People got away and survived but alas way too many children were lost.
I cannot believe that Mengele never got caught and I felt quite angry about this but then I realised if he had been caught he would have been hung - with no time given to think about the horrors he did. He lived yes, when maybe he really didn't deserve to but it was maybe karma coming into play that life never really went that well for him again.
This book shows the
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Christina Sesok
I read this book in preparation for my trip to Auschwitz with Eva Mozes Kor, one of the leading figures in the book and one of the founding members of CANDLES. I thought this book was very insightful and gave me a wonderful foundation to work with. I loved the quotes from Mengele's twins scattered throughout the text, it added a deeper emotional level to the book. I was also surprised at how much was known about Dr. Mengele, because the beginning of the book talks about how his life was more or ...more
Sarah
A must read. So different to a lot of the holocaust books I've read, this book gives you an insight to what happened to twins during this period as well as through the years after the war as well as 'the angel of death' dr Josef mengele. Think it is very well written and didn't find it hard to keep up with the author as she switched between the dr and the different twins like some others have mentioned. Definately one to read.
Zytel
One thing that I didn't like about this book was that, I often got confused with the author's style of writing, alternating the accounts of the twins with that of the life and acts of Mengele. Most of the time I found myself flipping back the pages, in order for me to determine whose who and which subject I first left off. Another thing is that, it mainly focused on Mengele, the author always highlighting his "adorable" personality which explains the reason why many would not believe his evil de ...more
Ashley Hudlow
While this book was entertaining, but it wasn't what I expected it to be. I had gone into the book expecting it to be filled with horrifying stories of the twins that had undergone during Dr. Josef Mengele's twin studies during the holocaust. However the book is more of a biography to Josef than anything else. There is a bit on the experiments but not enough. The other part of the book follows the stories of the twins after the fact, however this part gets confusing as it follows multiple people ...more
Bruce
Writing style can make a book more interesting yet more infuriating. This book is done chronologically, mingling the memories of the twins that survived Mengele's atrocities with his 'biography.' This method provides an easier comparison between the life of the perpetrator and those of his victims. Because the survivors memories are in italic while the other parts are in normal type there is no confusion as to whose life is being described. What is most infuriating is the world's reaction to the ...more
Barbara
This was a very interesting book about Dr. Josef Mengele and the twin studies he conducted at Auschwitz, and it was very informative. The narrative went back and forth between a description of Mengele's life and memories recounted by the Jewish twins he experimented on. It concentrated on Mengele's activities more than the recollections of the twins, and much of it was concerning what happened to their lives after the war. The organization of the book was its only major drawback. The narrative f ...more
Samantha Penrose
There were several things that I found fault with in this book, and of course, it's all trivial. Reading about the twins for the first time was worth spending the time on a not-so-perfect book.
Although it's title suggests that it is the story of the twins of Auschwitz, it's really more of a bio of Mengele.
I agree with other reviewers that the disorganization of the twins accounts got tiresome. You definitly spend time flipping to the front of the book, where there is "Dramatis Personae," that gi
...more
Charity U
The first few chapters are about the twins and their time in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belden. But much of the book I ended up skimming, as it is more about their lives now (or in the 80s or whenever it was that this book came out) and that didn't interest me as much. However, it was certainly worth reading. Recommended if you have an interest in Mengele and the concentration camps of World War II. Sad book, heart-touching, but we need to know!
Kara
An interesting read about a lesser-known part of the Holocaust - Dr. Josef Mengele and "his" twins. Though a good source of information, it took a while to get through. The way the book kept jumping from Mengele to different twins made it difficult for me to keep track of everything; though this style works for documentaries I found it somewhat annoying in written form.

Only a couple chapters of the book are dedicated to the events that took place at the death camps, so if you're looking to read
...more
Nance
Got tired of reading of Mengele's life in South America, so eventually skipped that part. Kept reading the survivors' stories. One thing that they all seem to have in common (and in many many other accounts this seems to be true) is that they are heartbroken over the loss of their mothers and that loss never seems to get any easier or less acute no matter how long they live.
Terri Lynn
This book has staggered and stunned me, leaving my emotions like damp washrags in a heap. This non-fiction book was written by an author who tracked down some of the remaining twins from Josef Mengele's infamous twin experiences at Aschwitz-Birkenau which was no easy task as out of 3,000 twins, only around 88 had survived and only because the Russians liberated the camp. They went through many interviews and this book tells their stories in their own words, intertwined with Mengele's own life st ...more
Tracey
This book is the story of various twins who survived the horrendous medical procedures performed on them during the holocaust. Few twins lived to tell their story, as they were murdered immediately after the doctor finished his inhumane tests on them.

As far as holocaust books go, this is stands out as a specific groups experience, and the different world they entered from the moment they stepped onto the rail platforms. As soldiers called for twins and triplets, implying a favored status, mother
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Edwina Hall Callan
I didn't like the way this book was written. It was very confusing the way it constantly jumped around all over the place, back and forth between Josef Mengele and the twins.
My advice to anyone starting this book is to read the chapters about Josef Mengele first and then go back and read the chapters about the twins. It will save you the headache of flipping back and forth in the book constantly trying to figure out who this or that person is.
Lauren Hopkins
Detailed account of the notorious Auschwitz doctor, Josef Mengele, who condemned hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths with a simple wave of his hand. The book includes testimony from several of the twins who served as his guinea pigs intertwined with a Mengele biography. It feels awkward at times; the author tries to relate the post-WWII experiences of the twins to Mengele's experiences which doesn't always work. Still, the intricate details provided, especially in the stories of the tw ...more
Heather Tomlinson
I liked the way the authors used the stories of the actual twins as a Greek Chorus during the tale of Mengele. As with any good history book, it left me curious and wanting to find out more.
Mirra
While cataloging for the Shoah library, I came across a subject I knew little about in regards to the holocaust - this bothered me. I found this book to be interesting but the way it was written was less than desirable. Switching between narrative by the author about Dr. Mengele then focusing on stories from twin survivors about what they experienced under his "care". The book pulled a lot of the story from Mengele's personal journals and writings, but went on to suggest feelings and emotions th ...more
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Lucette Lagnado is an Egyptian-born American journalist and memoirist. She is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

Lagnado attended P.S. 205 in Bensonhurst, New York City, and is a graduate of Vassar College. She is married to journalist Douglas Feiden, and lives in New York City and Sag Harbor on the East End of Long Island.[1][2]

She was born to a Jewish family in Cairo, Egypt, and wrote a priz
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