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Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  6,563 ratings  ·  1,005 reviews
This book is an account of Irena Sendler—the “female Oskar Schindler”—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

In 1942, one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health specialist. While there, she reached out to the trapped Jewish families, goin
Hardcover, 317 pages
Published September 27th 2016 by Gallery Books
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who the hell is sigmund freud? Fiction and non-fiction are equally engrossing for me. I feel that fiction gives a more personal and emotional feeling as you read it as if you are th…moreFiction and non-fiction are equally engrossing for me. I feel that fiction gives a more personal and emotional feeling as you read it as if you are the character. Non-fiction, at least for me, provides a more unapologetic and real tone unmasked by the emotions of the characters. (less)

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Start your review of Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto
Elyse  Walters
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thank You Lisa Vegan!!! Unlike Lisa, I had 'not' heard of Irena Sendler. .....
But..... like Lisa, I've read I've read MANY Holocaust books - fiction and non fiction.

Lisa Vegan's review express exactly how I feel....READ HER REVIEW!!!!

"Irena's Children", is sooooo ENGAGING!!!!!! It's non- fiction. The best 'feeling' comparison I can give about this NON-FICTION....that reads like FICTION .....( you wish it were fiction) "Unbroken", by Laura Hillenbrand.
For those who remember reading, 'Unb
Angela M
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
" This is history, through a glass darkly, with all the attendant perils of the great darkness that was the Holocaust in Poland both during the Second World War and in the decades of communist rule that followed. I have used in all cases my best judgement as a historian and scholar and then proceeded to get on with telling the story of an astonishing group of men and women who saved from the darkness thousands of children." (Tilar J. Mazzeo in the Afterword of this book.)

I would guess that there
"Great, heroic acts sometimes come from small beginnings…"

The story of Irena Sendler is one that some readers may be familiar with and many more may not. I hope that this incredible woman’s name will be proclaimed the world over as a true humanitarian, a courageous woman, and an admirable leader. I had first heard her name two years ago, when my son began an assigned reading for school titled Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer. He insisted that I would love the book and sugge
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Before reading this book, I had heard of Irena Sendler. I’d read two children’s picture books about her: Irena's Jars of Secrets and Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto. Because they were written for children, they were sanitized and did not reveal the worst of the atrocities or many of the details of Irena’s life and the lives of her collaborators or the lives of the victims. I did not get even close to a full picture, though I’m glad there are books for children about this hero ...more
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book moved me, as most holocaust books do. Honestly, I think that is part of what attracts people to them. We tell ourselves we are leaning history, and we are, but it is the emotional involvement that is the attraction.

This book is not just about Irena Sendler but also about the huge number of compatriots that worked alongside her. Although we do meet many individuals a number stand out, so one does not get lost. One feels connection to many. Both the author and Irena emphasize over and o
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
One of the most absorbing nonfiction books I've ever read. This almost impossible story of a woman who saved about 2,500 Jewish children in Poland during WW II will make you feel guilty that you are not doing more for others. Despite threats to her family, her friends, her own life, Irena Sendler triumphs and stays one step ahead of the Gestapo in Warsaw. She even survives capture and torture, never giving away any of the valuable information she had. Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Pr ...more
This is the story of Irena Sendler and the extraordinary things she did in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. I am sad to say that I am one of those who had never heard of her prior to reading this book. I have read many books about World War II, both fiction and non-fiction, and it amazes me how people endured and coped in the midst of a living hell.

Irena Sendler was a social worker who was granted access to the walled ghetto section of Warsaw. There she saw first hand the fate that awai
Karen R
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thank the author for her meticulous research and the extensive hours she must have put in to bring Irena Sendler’s incredible story to light. Irena was a passionate and courageous woman who risked her life repeatedly, saving thousands of children by smuggling them out of their Warsaw ghetto right under the noses of the Nazis. This novel is a difficult read because of the atrocities yet amidst the tragedies there is Irena and brave souls who step up to help. A powerful WWII story of bravery and ...more
Author and university professor Tilar Mazzeo has written an unforgettable story of courage, sacrifice, selflessness, honor and survival amidst the horrors and brutality of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, Poland.

Irena Sendler had graduated from university with a Master’s degree and had just begun a job with Warsaw’s municipal welfare office when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. She, along with many of her former classmates, became active in the resistance movement. Although she was not Jewish,
I became interested in learning more about the Warsaw Ghetto after reading Leon Uris’s book “Milo 18”. Mazzeo’s book is non-fiction and is fascinating.

This is a story of World War II, the Warsaw ghetto and the Holocaust. Mazzeo tells the story of the life of Irena Sendlerowa (Sender). The author covers her story from childhood to death but most of the story covers the war years.

In 1939 Irena Sender is a social worker in Warsaw. As the Germans take control they deprive the Polish Jews of everythi
Lewis Weinstein
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A well written combination of wrenching emotional detail set into clear historical context. What Irena Sendler and those she worked with accomplished in the Warsaw Ghetto was beyond remarkable. The risks they took and the price many of them paid are stunning. The contrast between this human goodness and the utter depravity of the Nazis and those who helped them jumps off every page.

What kind of people murder children? The answer is people who are unable to face up to their own failures (such as
Tilar J. Mazzeo writes from an extremely educated standpoint when talking about her subject, which in this case are the thousands of Jewish children that Irena Sendler saved from the Warsaw Ghetto. This was a powerfully disturbing but also amazing look from a different historical standpoint about a truly amazing group of people in our history.

Tilar does an amazing job of setting the scene for the reader in bringing the scenes of the book to life as though they still existed before our eyes. She
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
So here's the deal. Irena's personal story and those in her network who risked their lives to save so many is remarkable. However, the book was incredibly boring - my mind kept drifting to other things and it was difficult to stay focused.

Other than being a slow read, I couldn't understand why the author kept referring to Ala or others as "Irena's friend." By page 150 it was abundantly clear that these people were her friends and colleagues. I understand that there were a lot of names and it cou
Lewis Weinstein
a marvelous story about an incredible woman
Carla Johnson-Hicks
Tilar Mazzeo went to Poland and stumbled upon this story when she saw all the lights in the forest. She researched and what she found compelled her to write Irena's story. I read a children's version of Irena Sendler's story Jars of Hope a little while ago. I had not heard of Irena or her heroic efforts to save the children before that. I was very impressed with this woman and when I saw this book I wanted to read it to find out more about this incredible woman. I actually had to put this book d ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
And to think this woman never received the Nobel Prize!
To understate it, Poland during World War II was a particularly harrowing and horrifying which tested the mettle of all its citizens. There have been many excellent books written about this time, both fiction and nonfiction includingMila 18 and The Zookeeper's Wife, and I have discovered yet another one in Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar Mazzeo.

Irena Sendler was an amazing and heroic woman, who worked as a social wor
Deborah Pickstone
A story of heroism in the face of the inhumanity of the holocaust. I was much irritated by the author inferring emotions, thoughts etc that she had not access to. That aside, the story speaks for itself and I can only stand in awe of the courage some people have in living up to their own principles. No-one can say that they know for sure how s/he would react in the same shoes; I can only hope I would display some integrity.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hilary by: Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Deeply moving, harrowing and uplifting story of how a young social worker in Poland with the help of others saved around 2500 jewish children, hiding them, re homing them, and getting them new identities.

The devastation of Warsaw was horrendous, unbelievable that anyone survived such horror. What is truly amazing is that so many people were willing to risk their lives to help others. Irena kept carefully hidden notes on whatever information she had about the children in the hope that one day th
Ms. B
Another World War II story that broke my heart. What makes this one different is it's nonfiction. ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recieved a complimentary copy of Irena's Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo from the publisher through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I must admit that I am more than upset and embarrassed with myself that it took me so long to read Irena's story. I have read many stories about the Holocaust but this one should be read by all. Irena's fearless courage to save thousand of Jewish children was relentless even though she lived with the constant fear of discovery and d ...more
This is a remarkable harrowing true account of a Polish woman whose strength of character propelled her to make a huge and mostly hidden difference in the resistance to the Nazi regime in Warsaw particularly.
This is not the first book Ive read on the subject, but it remains unbelievable. The horror is too vast. TJM has found the right perspective and tone to bring the reader right into the chaos of the time.
Debbie Carnes
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A part of history few know about. People have heard of Schindler and all that he did to help during WW2, This is about Irena Sendler a courageous young woman and others who helped save the lives of more then two thousand Jewish children.
This is one of the best books I've read in a very long time.
Thank goodness there were and still are people in this world that care so much about others that they put their own lives on the line.
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have great admiration for people who were willing to make huge sacrifices to do the right thing.
Dov Zeller
Poland was hit hard during WWII. They were brutalized by Germany.

Poland was, on one hand, a victim of Germany.

And yet, they were also extreme perpetrators of violence. Their cooperation (and often initiation) in killing Jews during the war is chilling.

It is estimated that over 90% of Poland's Jews died during World War II. There were about three million and four hundred thousand Jews in Poland before the war. Only about 300,000 survived.

Nearly 400,000 thousand Jews lived in Warsaw. Only abou
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I have read lots of Holocaust books and it never ceases to amaze me the atrocities done by the Nazis to the Jews and those that tried to help them. The story of Irena in Warsaw, Poland was one of selflessness and courage. Irena and her group of friends helped smuggle 2500 Jewish children to safety during World War 2. Parents were so desperate to save their children they would throw their babies over the ghetto wall not knowing if anyone caught them and took them to safety. Children would live in ...more
Mary Catherine Pace
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mazzeo is an historian, and this book is a well-researched and well-written book about a remarkable, but lesser-known Polish social worker who was the organizing influence and daring operative behind a remarkable effort to rescue many people from the Warsaw Ghetto during German Occupation from 1939 to 1945. Her story is well-served by the author, who brings her writing and research skills to great effect in telling the story. I especially enjoyed reading about the dedication and creativity of th ...more
Darcia Helle
Books like this one are not easy to read, and they shouldn't be. But, when well written, books like this can teach us a lot about how and why average men and women either went along with the masses, silent in the face of atrocities, or stayed true to their values, fought against the tide, and became heroes. This book is exceptionally well written.

Tilar Mazzeo writes an engaging narrative. This is absolutely not a dry, textbook type of read. Mazzeo gives us emotion, passion, and insight. She lets
Kylie Funk Kramer
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust
A story of ordinary, every day people coming together to do extraordinary things. So many touching experiences that brought me to tears but so many tragic reminders of loss and death. The book is important, the overall story is inspiring (the rescue of over 2500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto), but the book was not a gripping read, hence my 4-star review. There are a lot of people in Irena Sendler's group, so showing each person's role in the rescues can get somewhat confusing. The author ackno ...more
I learned about Irena Sendler thanks to a GR friend's comments online. Having reserved the book through the library, though I was keen to read it , I was unprepared for the extra-ordinary stories of courage, ingenuity, dedication and the rest within. Increasingly I could not tear myself away from the harrowing tale. Shindler's List and The Pianist and prepared me for the horrors of the Warsaw ghetto but I had not understood how the hatred, destruction and denial went on and on long after the ghe ...more
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Tilar J. Mazzeo is a cultural historian, biographer, and passionate student of wine and food culture. She divides her time among the California wine country, New York City, and Maine, where she is a professor of English at Colby College.

(from the author's website)

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What will you do when it's your turn to pick your book club's next read? Well, this is what you won't do: panic. Why not? Because we've dug...
9 likes · 3 comments
“From "Irena's Children, Young Reader's Edition" by Mary Cronk Farrell: I am delighted and honored to bring her story to life in this edition for young readers. Irene's choice of lifesaving resistance to the power and evil of Naziism proves to me that we humans have great potential to put aside self-interest, to rise above hatred and fear, and to act with compassion...Some parts of the story are so terrible I don't want to write them, and they might be sad and painful for you to read. But if we don't know about the Nazis' brutality, we can't begin to understand Irena's bravery.” 1 likes
“Gandhi, who once said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” Such were Irena and all her friends, and this is their story. Afterword Author’s Note on the Story of Irena’s Children” 0 likes
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