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3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,352 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews
The prevailing image of European Jews during the Holocaust is one of helpless victims, but in fact many Jews struggled against the terrors of the Third Reich. In Defiance, Nechama Tec offers a riveting history of one such group, a forest community in western Belorussia that would number more than 1,200 Jews by 1944--the largest armed rescue operation of Jews by Jews in Wor ...more
Kindle Edition, 407 pages
Published (first published 1993)
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Feb 15, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Defiance' just made it to the NY Times paperback best seller list even tho it came out more than 15 years ago. The reason for its popularity now, of course, is that the film has been released and has created interest in the story and in Nechama Tec's book.

That's why I read it. After seeing the film, I wanted to know more about the Bielski brothers/partisans and what really happened in the forest. As I suspected, the film does not do justice to the book, or, even more important, to what actuall
There are two books about the Bielski partisan group that I know of; the other is Peter Duffy's The Bielski Brothers. Both books were good but I found Tec's to be the better of the two. Her writing gave a better sense of what daily life was like in the Bielski camp, possibly because she herself was a "hidden child" Holocaust survivor. Tec was also able to interview Zus and Tuvia Bielski before their deaths, whereas Duffy didn't start writing his book until the brothers (excepting Aron, the young ...more
Daniel L.
A Critically Important Chronicle of True Heroes

The passivity of the Jews during the Holocaust is a hotly debated topic - why are the Jews of World War II Europe so often portrayed as being passive, even being accessories to their own extermination. Much of this argument can be put to rest in reading the about underground dairies of Emmanuel Ringelblum (the Onyeg Shabbat), the lively intellectual and artistic achievements at Terezin and elsewhere, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and the partisans, fr
Emma Kelleway
Apr 01, 2013 Emma Kelleway rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read Defiance because last year I saw the film version of it and I enjoyed the film (even though it was sad) and found the film very interesting. So I finally brought a copy of the book and read it.
I have decided to put this book into the ‘A book based on a true story category’ on the bingo board, as this book is based on a true story. This book wasn’t quite what I had expected it to be. I expected it to be more of a story about what had happened in The Bielski otraid and the exper
Apr 01, 2009 Becky rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I was excited to read this book because the introduction said it wasn't a book based on the movie. The movie was based on this book. But after four chapters I finally had to stop - it was so dry. This isn't a novel at all. I thought it was going to be a novel because on the back it says "based on the extraordinary true story..." It was like reading a documentary. The style of the book was really choppy - with stories and then quotes.
I was really disappointed because a novel based on these event
Defiance paints a very good picture of what life as a partisan was like. Tec presents the life warts and all, even presenting detail about how the locals felt about the partisans. At one level the book fails. Tec seems to be trying to paint a picture of partisan life and write a biography of Tuvia Bielski, as a biography the book fails. The reader never really gets a sense of knowing any of the Bielski brothers. The only person that readers seems to know is Chaja Bielski, possibly because of the ...more
Impressive work by Nechama Tec-I learned a lot. The extensive research the author did on Jewish resistance during World War 2 and the insights she gained from interviewing surviving members of the Bielski otriad made for a fascinating read. I was impressed by the fact that she gave her interview subjects a choice of four different languages to speak during their interviews-I'm assuming this means she speaks all four herself-Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish and English.
The focus of the book is on the lea
Feb 16, 2009 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an encouraging story about the largest armed rescue of Jews during WWII. In Belorussia Tuvia Bielski and his brothers started a group that would not submit to the Nazi invaders of Poland. Creating a Jewish community in the forests, escapees from ghettos had a place to flee before they were slaughtered in mass executions. At the end of the war the community had grown to over 1200 men women and Children.

The subject material itself was great. I longed to here about Jews who resisted the Naz
Mar 08, 2009 Grace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Grace by: Mandy Morrell
Fascinating. Approximately 1200 Jews survive World War II by living in the forests of Poland.I admit my ignorance of such partisan groups performing guerrilla warfare and subsistence living in order to survive and of the Bielski Partisans in particular for trying to save as many Jews as possible, even if they came dressed in rags, with no food, money, or weapons. It saddens me that this glimmer of hope during one of the darkest times in the world's history was not covered in any of my history cl ...more
Gloria Piper
Aug 11, 2012 Gloria Piper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Defiance tells the story about Jews during WWII, not as meek victims but as fighters for survival. Tuvia Bielski, a Belorussian peasant, has the necessary charisma to lead an independently minded people--not an easy task but vital. Tec puts a human face on history as she relates the struggles and resourcefulness of individuals who must adapt or die. Unlike many partisans, Tuvia values life so highly that he welcomes all Jews, into his protection, regardless of whether others consider them useful ...more
Lady Knight
Jun 25, 2010 Lady Knight rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was an amazing story. I've read plenty of WWII and Holocaust literature (fiction and non) and I have to say that this was extraordinary. It was a look that I'd never seen before. Before this I'd only read from the viewpoint of soldiers on the front line, germans fighting inside of Hitler's Third Reich, and from the viewpoint of Jews destined for the concentration camps. While all of those are worthy tales, "Defiance" tells the true story of Jews, led by Tuvia Bielski, who refused to become ...more
Jessie Blackwood
Amazing and poignant story of people who set out to save their Jewish countrymen from Nazi Germany by living in the forests of the Belarus. The bunkers they lived in are still there, testament to their tenacity and courage. I would love to have met Tuvia, and god knows how many people rode in his taxi and never knew or even gave him the time of day. Never, ever judge a book by its cover. Never disrespect a man for following a menial job. Who knows what lies beneath the surface of a seemingly ave ...more
Aug 31, 2007 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This author taught a couple of my classes at UCONN. She was a cool lady and a Holocaust survivor. She's written a few other books, but this was the only one I read all the way through.

It's a great story about the Bielski brothers--European Jews during WWII that led a band of armed partisans who hid in the forests and actually allowed women and children to stay with them despite the insane danger involved. They actually had a whole Jewish mini city in a thick swampy forest in Eastern Europe (I th
Dec 19, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
Tato kniha je dokument. Sociologická studie Nechama Tec. Výborná, dobře se poslouchá (Stefan Rudnicki). Film je úplně jiný kafe (Daniel Craig) a je skvělý. Nelze srovnávat, každé má svoje.
Amanda Whitbeck
Mar 23, 2016 Amanda Whitbeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the years since middle school, I have read as many books as possible about the Holocaust. I’ve watched almost every documentary and movie, but this book was definitely a new perspective for me. In everything I’ve read and watched, no one has even mentioned The Bielski Partisans or any of the Jewish resistance groups on the outside. There have been heart breaking tales of surviving the ghetto just to be sent to a camp and then barely surviving that. I’ve read re-tellings of hiding in inhuman ...more
Rachael Hewison
This is the kind of book that makes you realise that there is so much you don't know about World War Two. I'd never heard of the Bielski partisans before I read this book. Now I've finished I don't know why this is not more well known.

I was a bit confused when first reading the book as I thought it was going to be a historical fiction book including the history facts but as more of a story. It was odd then to find that it was actually non-fiction and very much written in the style of an essay. I
Kathleen Hagen
Defiance: the Bielski Partisans,by Nechama Tec,Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, produced by blackstone Audio, downloaded from

The publisher’s note describes this amazing and inspiring book as well as I could.
The prevailing image of European Jews during the Holocaust is one of helpless victims. But in fact, many Jews struggled against the terrors of the Third
Reich. This is the riveting history of one such group: a forest community numbering more than 1,200 that carried out the largest arm
Mckenzie Telford
This novel is a biography of three Jewish brothers who survived the Holocaust as partisans. Defiance is about the largest armed rescue operation of Jews by Jews in World War II. Tec describes the partisan movement in detail to show what these people had to go through to survive. This movement was driven by one man, Tuvia Bielski, and she explains his journey that led him to be commander. Tuvia had lost everything and was not willing to let the Germans ruin his life anymore. He smuggled Jews out ...more
Joon Seo
Definace: The Bielski Partisans is a nonfictional story of a group of Jewish men and women in their fight against Third Reich and in their struggle to survive in the wilderness. I thought the book was overall alright; it was a survival story and it made me read until the very end. But I didn't read until the very end for my enjoyment; I did it for the purpose of literally finishing the book. My down of this book is the organization of the book. The way it was set up was really confusing and unbe ...more
Apr 12, 2009 Vicky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awkwardly written, but the subject matter transcends style. Mind-boggling account of a Jewish partisan unit in Belorussia during World War II. The group not only survived (amazing enough) and participated in the resistance but built a mobile town, a civilization, in the forest. Incredible.
Rose Scott
Aug 03, 2016 Rose Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tuvia Bielski was from a large Jewish family living in a Polish village when World War Two broke out, but rather than allow himself and his family to be taken into the ghetto, he made it his business to get people out of danger, away from the Nazis and into the forest to join his partisan group. Unlike other partisan groups, such as the Russian groups operating in what was then Eastern Poland, Bielski allowed women, children and the elderly in his group. His primary aim was to rescue them and to ...more
Nov 02, 2014 Sabrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sabrina by: Amy
I want to read this AGAIN!!
Nov 04, 2015 Lance rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a long time I have been looking for a version of the Robin Hood story to blow my socks off. When I was little, I watched Disney’s Robin Hood, and also saw Kevin Costner’s infamous turn as the Prince of Thieves. I can clearly recall the romantic emotions those versions of the story drew out of me. Time and perspective have, as one may guess, tarnished my view of those films. Since then I have kept my eye out for a work of fiction whose objective quality lives up to the character’s impact that ...more
Jul 31, 2009 Louis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book I read after reading the movie. This book was very dry and somewhat hindered by a cast of supporting characters who became very difficult to recall when reading about them tens of pages apart in the text. A glossary of characters would have been helpful. The book seems to be an academic exercise, as it is heavily footnoted and consists of multiple personal interviews with survivors of the Bielski partisans. The work that Tec put into this book was astounding and Tec is to be complim ...more
Jun 26, 2013 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ended up reading this book after really liking Beyond Courage The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport which had a small chapter on the Bielski brothers. The book covers the story of these brothers, Tuvia, Zus and Asael Bielski who from 1942-1944 created a community of Jewish refugees in the forests of Belorussia who escaped from the Germans and created a haven for themselves and fellow Jews. Tuvia was commander of the group, which was linked to Soviet partisan groups and struggled for existence from both Soviet and Nazi threats. It was fascinati ...more
this is an amazing book. not just because it held my interest from chapter to chapter, but because the story is true and incredible.

My husband rented the movie and when he told me it was a true story i got the book from the library the next day.

the book is written as a non-fiction history not as a narrative. the author really did her research by conducting personal interviews with those involved and from other archived information.

Tuvia and his brothers were not going to become captured by th
Jan 04, 2015 Jocelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The Bielski partisans lived in the Belorussian woods from 1942-1944. While most other partisan groups focused on sabotaging Germans, the Bielskis' main objective was saving Jews. At one point its membership numbered more than 1,200.

I was especially interested in the social and political dynamics of the group. This is how human beings organize for survival, it seems, in the absence of a standing army whose commander-in-chief is sworn to uphold a constitution and hedged by a democratically-elected
Dec 12, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit it, I had never heard of this until I saw the movie, and was immediately attracted by "based on a true story." How based? What story? This set me off on a hunt for the book it was based on, which took so long I'd begun to think I'd made it up. I finally found it at a library book sale, where I almost had to fight someone for it.

The foreword by the producer explains that he had to reorganize and rearrange some of the events in the book to make them make more sense for a movie. That is
Apr 08, 2010 Christopher rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, history
Once again, I'm back with the Polish partisans in WWII. I swear, I have no ulterior motive, I've just been getting pulled back to these same people and lands for the past few years, I'm not sure why.

Then again, maybe this book doesn't count. It depends on who you ask if the land is eastern Poland or western Belorussian (now Belarus, in between part of the Soviet Union). It depends on who you ask what the nationality of the Bielskis was - Polish Jews, Belorussian Jews, Russian partisans, Soviet g
A fascinating examination of a story that deserves more awareness. The journey unfolded exactly as I'd hoped: we learn of the events in the lives of the Bielski brothers leading up to the creation of their fighting/surviving/rescuing ostriad. It traces the war years, using various stages of their evolution to dive deeper into specific aspects (organization, role of women, etc). In this, it never loses its timeline narrative, while allowing for very deep exploration of several key components.

I en
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