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

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,820 ratings  ·  111 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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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
I expected quite a lot from this book. After reading the reviews, I was waiting 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. So let me get this straight - this is a biography of Mengele, not the twins he performed experiments on. Although his life story was told in counterpoint to the lives of the surviving twins, they were not...more
Petra SockieX
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...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.
Jocelyn
Jun 02, 2008 Jocelyn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: breathers
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I don't know if you've ever been struck by a whip, but I assume that's what this book would feel like.

It's well organized and factual; yet, it's also personal and heartbreaking. Twins and families were torn apart just so they could be experimented on and researched. Even more, the kicker about Dr. Josef Mengele is that his patients liked him. His life is fascinating in an absurd way. Along with the past, this book also speaks of survivors and who they are today. The interviews with the survivor...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...more
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...more
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
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
♥ 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...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...more
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
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
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.
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...more
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
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
Katie
I was torn when rating this book. On the one hand it is compellingly written and I found the juxtaposition of Mengele's own life alongside the testimony of his twins particularly effective. However, my enjoyment of the book was limited by some glaring errors - for example, the author refers to Josef Kramer, Commandant of Bergen-Belsen and in charge of the Auschwitz gas chambers, as a cultured medical doctor, a fact which can be disproved by a simple Google search and thus led me to doubt the aut...more
Chelsea Tall


Interesting, horrifying, enlightening. The chorus of Twons who survived Mengele's heinous experiments is captivating and moving. The only problem I had with the book is the obvious bias of the authors (which I can't exactly fault them for, but it makes the reader feel manipulated). I also found it odd that they frequently mentioned Mengele's perverse experiments but did not really explain what they were or anything about the science behind them. If he really was doing things under the direction...more
Nicole
This was a very interesting book that definitely pulls at your heart strings. This book tells the untold stories of Dr. Josef Mengele and the twins of Auschwitz. Dr. Mengele was seen by many as a loving, caring man who had a tender heart for children, especially twins. However, he is known to the world as the "Angel of Death" for the inhumane experiments he performed on twins, dwarfs and any other "different" types of people during the Holocaust. You learn of his background and how he escaped ca...more
Ruby
If you can handle the details, this is a fascinating side by side narrative of the life and times of Josef Mengele, the Nazi Angel of Death, and the stories of the young twins whom he butchered, mutilated and did experiments on during his time at concentration camps. The writing literally alternates between his story and the quotes of the surviving twins at various stages of their lives. I'm fascinated by Holocaust memoirs and history so I especially "liked" reading this book. If Holocaust histo...more
Susan
very interesting stories from those who survived a horrific experience. I haven't read too much about the Holocaust. not the best written but I still wanted to finish it. The afterward / notes section was fascinating
J.M.
While this book says it's about the twins of Auschwitz, I felt it was much more about Mengele instead. I liked the counterpoint of his life story against the first-hand accounts and memories from the twins who survived the Shoah while suffering at his hands, but it seemed at times this was more about his life after the war and his eluding capture than about the years he or the twins spent in Auschwitz.

Still, the writing was good, and it's a story that needs to be told. Definitely a great additio...more
Shell Lynn
Lest we forget.
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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...more
More about Lucette Lagnado...

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