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The Happiest Man on Earth

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Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you.

Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed in November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp.

Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on a Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country.

Because he survived, Eddie made the vow to smile every day. He pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his wisdom and living his best possible life. He now believes he is the 'happiest man on earth'.

Published as Eddie turns 100, this is a powerful, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful memoir of how happiness can be found even in the darkest of times.

208 pages, Hardcover

First published July 28, 2020

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About the author

Eddie Jaku

2 books199 followers
Eddie Jaku OAM was born Abraham Jakubowicz in Germany in 1920. In World War Two, Eddie was imprisoned in Buchenwald and Auschwitz concentration camps. In 1945, he was sent on a 'death march' but escaped. Finally he was rescued by Allied soldiers. In 1950 he moved with family to Australia where he had lived since.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,340 reviews
Profile Image for Rowan.
91 reviews105 followers
August 3, 2022
Wow. It’s difficult to put this one into words. From the moment Holocaust survivor, Eddie Jaku, addressed me, the reader, as his friend, I felt emotional.

The Happiest Man on Earth was both heartbreaking and inspiring. It was a fairly quick, but powerful read that I couldn't put down. I found myself re-reading certain passages to absorb and wrap my head around all that Eddie was sharing.

It’s simply told, yet paints a vivid picture of his journey. It felt so intimate, like he was sitting down with me, his new friend, and telling me about his remarkable life. From the likes of Buchenwald and Auschwitz; to escapes, near-death experiences and starting over in a new country. There is inspiration to be found throughout - even in the darkness. It’s about family, love, kindness, friendship and so much more.

“Every breath is a gift. Life is beautiful if you let it be. Happiness is in your hands.”

Perhaps no other book has made me feel so grateful to be alive and appreciate friends and family. It's not just an astonishing tale of tragedy and survival (Eddie was given a 35% chance to live upon liberation), but inspiring story of how to rebuild after the worst kind of adversity. You can’t help but want to be a better member of society.

“With a simple act of kindness, you can save another person from despair, and that might just save their life. And this is the greatest miracle of all.”

The pictures brought to life those featured in the book and reinforced the tragedy and loss that so many, like Eddie, endured. This is more than just his story. My heart ached for them all and I won't forget them.

“The best balm for the soul is friendship.”

I had to sit in silence and collect my thoughts after finishing The Happiest Man on Earth. It’s the kind of book you wake up thinking about. A book to make you immediately go hug your mother or father; a friend or a pet. It will be a book I return to when needing some hope, inspiration or encouragement to be a better person.

On speaking about the horrors of the Holocaust and sharing his story, Eddie had this to say:

“If I get through to even one person, it is worth it. And I hope that is you, my new friend. I hope this story goes with you.”

Yes, my friend, your story will certainly stay with me forever.
192 reviews17 followers
July 27, 2020
In the few hours it took me to read this book I made a new friend, his name is Eddie, and I am sharing his story with you because I believe it deserves to be heard. We not only need to understand how he survived, but people also need to hear how he values friendship and kindness.

The Happiest Man on Earth is a story of survival.

It’s barely imaginable.

I am not going to go deeper into Eddie’s story because he is the only person that can tell it accurately. I can tell you that he shows strength, he is a survivor, he’s was a wonderful friend, a devoted son and husband, loved father and a man with a life-changing story that needs to be heard.

For a full review head to https://littlebigreads.com/2020/07/28...
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,302 reviews340 followers
November 30, 2021
OH MY GOD.

I am SO GLAD I read this book.

There's a story here - a fascinating survivor's tale - but most of all there is hope, and love, and above all, kindness.

This is the story of a man who suffered through great tragedy and hardship, who spent years fighting one day at a time just to LIVE, and who came through it all with an unbreakable spirit.

It's absolutely inspiring.

I hate war stories, because it pains me so deeply to read about people suffering, but there is so much inextinguishable light in Eddie's story that I just couldn't stop reading. No matter all of the horrible things he endured, he was able to appreciate the precious moments and use those to find the will to go on.

What an incredible man.

This story is filled with heart and light and HOPE and the message that kindness is one of the most valuable things we all have to give, and it costs us nothing but rather doubles our stores when we give it.

The story is a quick read, though incredibly emotional. Things are told quite simply, but that doesn't affect the feeling of the story - you will easily become immersed in Eddie's story and I don't think anyone could possibly read this and not be moved by it.

I hope many people read Eddie's story and take away that message of the value of kindness and the importance of hope. Especially in these troubling times when so many people are driven by fear, hatred and greed.

What a beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing your hope.

RIP Eddie Jaku
12/10/21


With many thanks to Macmillan for sending me a copy.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,036 reviews2,570 followers
February 3, 2023
The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku
Narrated by Raphael Corkhill

Despite the fact that I listen to and read a lot of WWI and WWII historical fiction and true stories, I held off of listening to this book because we'd be listening to the words of a Holocaust survivor first hand. Eddie Jaku lived through so many horrors and saw so many horrors. He lost almost everything but in the end he found so much to appreciate. He never lost his love and appreciation for his mother and father and the fact that his parents prepared him, each in their own way, to deal with all that he had to go through.

Eddie was not at just one concentration camp, he was imprisoned at several places. I know we don't hear even the half of it and even his sons didn't know what he went through until many decades later. But he eventually came to a time in his life that he did tell his story and even greater than the story of the horrors of what happened to him is his story of embracing the life that came afterwards. Eddie becomes the 'happiest man on earth' and I believe him. There is so much to learn from his story and his attitude.

And Eddie was a true friend, often stating that in the worst of times friendship and the generosity of friendship can save a man or woman when death is right that in front of them. This is Eddie's story to tell and I'm so glad I listened to this audiobook. It's not long, less than four hours from beginning to end. Narrator Raphael Corkhill has found his way onto the list of my favorite narrators as this is the second audiobook that he's narrated that I greatly enjoyed hearing.
Profile Image for Nat K.
400 reviews142 followers
July 4, 2022
Vale Mr. Eddie Jaku 🕯

*** Winner - Biography of the Year 2021 ABIA Prize***

“For future generations.”

War books are a dime a dozen. Some are good, some bad, some middling. But occasionally you get one that leaves your preconceptions at the door, and has you thanking your lucky stars for all the blessings that you have.

Seeing the warmth of Mr.Jaku's smile on the cover made me take a shine to him straight away. This is the face of a man who has been through so much and survived. And yet, he is smiling. There’s a lot to be said about that. What I took away from this book is that the human spirit can overcome so much. It doesn’t make anything hurt any less or make the pain go away. But somehow, an innate inner strength helped him to survive the abject horror and atrocities of WWII. Where friends and neighbours became strangers. I cannot help but think how incredibly sad it is that the fluke of being born into one religion or another could have such a bearing on the course of one’s life. As the blurb for the book says Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed in November 1938...

There is such a quiet dignity in this book. It is unbelievable to even begin to imagine the events which occurred. But they did. And Mr.Jaku is here to tell his story. Which seems to be a fitting time, with the world turned upside down and inside out with another type of turmoil.

He talks about values that cannot be measured monetarily, and therefore are worth so much more. They are needed as much as food and water. The importance of family. How friends help you survive through dark times. Laughter can help lighten the load. Education is your friend. Love is beautiful.

“I have learned this: life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful.”

Throughout the book, Mr.Jaku stresses the importance of kindness. You never know how even the smallest gesture or the simplest act of helping another can make a world of difference. You know those t-shirts that are around now with the words “Be Kind”? It’s true. We’re all going through something. Be kind. Be mindful. It costs nothing.

This is a beautifully emotive story, told from the heart. I could not help but tear up so many times. What he says is so simple, yet so powerful. It just makes sense.

“If you have the opportunity today, please go home and tell your mother how much you love her. Do this for your mother. And do it for your new friend, Eddie, who cannot tell it to his mother.”

Truer words. If you can, go and do it now. Take the opportunity while it's there. You don’t know what tomorrow can bring.

“Family first, family second, and family at the last.”

It took many years for Mr.Jaku to feel able to talk of his experiences, as to do so was to acknowledge and face hurts that can never go away. I’m so glad he finally came to a space where he felt able to do so, and was willing to share his story with others.

It also made me smile reading how he and his young family settled in Australia and created a happy life for themselves. Brighton-le-Sands is a particular favourite suburb of mine. A wide, tree lined road leads to the beach. It's very pretty, and I can't help but think how lucky we are to live here. The land of opportunity for sure. Yes, Oz has its problems, which country doesn't. But where else can you get such an amazing melting pot of people from so many different countries, creeds and cultures. Australia has been so welcoming to immigrants over the years, who in turn have helped immensely to contribute to make it the great country that it is.

I’m thrilled this won the ABIA prize for best bio for 2021. The only way we can learn is through the experiences of others. If only we’ll listen.

Happy 100th Birthday Mr.Jaku. It has been a pleasure making your acquaintance. I hope that many people read your story and learn from your wise words. Absolutely ”where there is life there is hope.” I have always believed that and always will.

“Menschen sturben
Blumen welken
Eisen und stachl bricht
Aber unsere frundshaft nicht

(people die
flowers wilt
iron and steel break
but not our friendship)”


Update 12.October.2021
Vale to Mr. Eddie Jaku 🕯 His book left such an impression on me, as I'm sure it did for many others. I'm sure he's still beaming that special smile wherever he is. Thank you for bringing hope and understanding to new generations.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CU6V-yJv6cr/
Profile Image for Rebecca.
199 reviews144 followers
January 10, 2022
The Happiest Man on Earth. Eddie Jaku, a holocaust survivor shares how he found gratitude, kindness and hope in the darkest of places. Eddie was imprisoned in Buchenwald and Auschwitz concentration camps, and, after narrowly escaping death on multiple occasions and being rescued by Allied soldiers, he finally found freedom in Australia.

Words cannot describe how impacting and profound, beautiful, heartbreaking and awe inspiring this book is. Eddie's words are simple yet vivid, uncomplicated nor laboured, just his voice, pure and rich. I could not put this book down, it was as if he was talking directly to me. Eddie’s story is so important and he was determined to share it, to warn people about the poison of hate. Now more than ever we need Eddie's story. His book is such an incredible gift of resilience, joy, family, pain and kindness. A beautiful book and celebration of a man who has left behind a powerful legacy.

Vale Eddie Jaku 🙏🏻 14/4/1920 - 21/10/2021

"Please remember everyday to be happy and to make others happy too. Make yourself a friend to the world. Do this for your new friend Eddie."
Profile Image for Colin Baldwin.
Author 1 book214 followers
January 23, 2023
I wasn’t quite ready for another Holocaust survivor book. I’ve read a few and sought out the well-crafted films, but thought I had had my fill for a while.

A friend gave me Eddie’s memoir for Christmas. I put it aside for a later date, but his photo on the book cover, his kind face, his inviting, all-knowing smile kept throwing me a hook.

“MY DEAR NEW FRIEND” – these are his opening words. They speak volumes to the character of this man.

Eddie takes his new friends back to his dark times, his survival, his losses, but also offers hope for the future, as many of the Holocaust survivors have done, yet he offers some extra layers.

There’s little I can add to the thoughtful reviews already on Goodreads. I invite you to check them out.

I’m very glad I took the hook.
Profile Image for Edgarr Alien Pooh.
269 reviews177 followers
October 12, 2021
This book is a very quick read but it blew me away. Eddie Jaku wrote this at the age of one hundred in his house in Sydney, Australia. Eddie, as a German Jew, survived the second world war and all of the harrowing events that we know of today. He has a number tattooed on his arm, he lost most of his family and friends, he survived Birkenau and Auschwitz, he was beaten many times, nearly froze in camps and on trains, escaped to be recaptured, and was let down by some he considered friends, some of them Jews.

Yet this man writes a book with such a title? How can this be? Read it, such an important book. I will warn you now that it is full of sorrow and sadness. The descriptions of what he remembers in Europe and what he went through are nothing short of heartbreaking. The day in day out life that he had, the desperate attempts to keep himself busy and away from the firing squads, never knowing what happened to the members of his family but always assuming the worst. A major friendship that remarkably recurs through the book in the unlikeliest of places, and an unbelievable will to make it through.

The majority of us know of the concentration camps, the pure evil of the Nazi party and their despicable ways during the Holocaust, the Death March out of Auschwitz as the Russians closed in, the appalling conditions, families hiding in rooftops trying to evade the searching Gestapo and the horrendous deeds of Doctor Death, Josef Mengele. Well here is your first-hand account from a man who neither glorifies nor plays down what happened.

My last words on this book are these; If you love your self-help books, love to read about ways you can make yourself better, be happier, etc then I recommend this book to you. It is a biography and NOT a self-help book but when you read this, read what this man went through, and read how he came out the other side and with his philosophies on life, I challenge you to find more uplifting words.

Eddie Jaku, and his wife Flore, are remarkable people. I would love to meet them but for now, my interaction is with Youtube where you can see Eddie's Tedtalk. In 2013 Eddie was awarded the Order of Australia medal (OAM) and there is no more deserving person. Since arriving in Australia Eddie has worked tirelessly for the Australian Jewish community.

R.I.P EDDIE JAKU, passing today at the age of 101.
Profile Image for L.A..
349 reviews59 followers
October 25, 2021
A very beautiful soul is found in this inspirational story by Eddie Jaku. Eddie, You turned some of the most horrendous times in history into a love story of life.
Like so many other Holocaust stories, the continuous violence and brutality portrayed is felt deeply in the heart and soul. Eddie's will to survive and his endearing friendship with Kurt gave him hope in the midst of an impossible net against survival.
When six million Jews perished at the hands of the most brutal in mankind's history, he showed us the importance of embracing life to its fullest.
With a kindred spirit, he endured 28 below temps, no blanket or cozy bed, no coat, a scant trace of shoes, and starvation at its worse. How they survived and why they survived is sometimes worse than dying. The description of the surroundings, the nauseating stench of decaying human life and the moral or ethical code from people living in fear is told through the eyes of a survivor. Even the loss of loved ones brings light to the emphasis we place on what is important, such as The Happiest Man on Earth wasn't achieved through wealth, but survival at its harshest.
Raised by a loving family, sacrifices had to be made. When their capture would be inevitable, they sent their son away to take on a new identity and receive an education. After receiving a college degree in mechanical engineering, it would prove to save his life 7 years inside a concentration camp.
This book casts life lessons that Eddie delivers in hope to inspire others.
What I found so profound was the many times fate was decided at the last minute by saving grace and unbelievable outcomes. Through the beatings, escapes, recaptures, imprisonments and barbarous acts by the enemy, Eddie found love and light in some of the kindest people.
The journey to his happiness will leave you flabbergasted and disheartened. I never get tired of their will to survive even when survival was at its cruelest.
Thank you NetGalley and Harper Collins for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,850 reviews34.9k followers
June 23, 2022
AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!

The Audiobook is 3 hours and 47 minutes >>>>>>>>>>WOW!

And I'm Jewish --I know these stories -- but???
Really? Saliva as a disinfectant…… And a letter opener to remove a bullet…

'nough said -- A REMARKABLE short TRUE story --

"EDUCATION is a LIFESAVER"
Profile Image for Brenda.
3,976 reviews2,590 followers
January 11, 2021
Eddie Jaku, born in Leipzig in eastern Germany in 1920, was named Abraham Salomon Jakubowicz and by his friends, called Adi. But translated to English, that’s pronounced Eddie – so he wants his new friends, the readers of his book, to call him Eddie.

Eddie’s family was large; his father was an immigrant from Poland and after settling in Germany, very proud of his adopted country. But all that changed for Eddie and his family when Eddie was arrested in 1938 and taken to Buchenwald. The Nazi’s war on Jews is well known – always horrifying – but Eddie’s first hand description of his time in Buchenwald, then Auschwitz and finally the death march are astounding. The times he was close to death, starving, despondent – all these times and more were somehow overcome. His determination to survive would be tested many times but survive he did.

Telling his story, Eddie does it for those who didn’t survive; those 6 million Jews who were murdered and exterminated. The horrors must never be forgotten simply so they never happen again. Now 100 years of age and living in Sydney, Australia with his family, Eddie continues to encourage us all to smile, to take heart when something goes wrong, to tell your mother you love her, to hug your children – because you can.

Eddie Jaku is an inspirational man, humble while he tells us all to grab happiness with both hands, to make it happen. His memoir, The Happiest Man on Earth, is one I’d recommend everyone read. It will give you hope in the darkest of days. Thank you Eddie. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Marilyn.
749 reviews201 followers
January 10, 2023
There are some people who I believe are put on Earth to make a difference. In my opinion, Eddie Jaku, was one such man! His memoir, The Happiest Man on Earth, was both heartbreaking and inspiring. I was unaware of Eddie Jaku’s inspirational story until I saw a friend on Goodreads had reviewed his memoir. Eddie’s character, thought process, determination and resourcefulness were always qualities Eddie and others tended to depend on. These qualities that Eddie processed went beyond the limitation of his age and circumstances.

I listened to the audiobook of The Happiest Man on Earth that was brilliantly narrated by Raphael Corkhill. The narration pulled me into the life Eddie and his family were dealt. It made me feel their love for one another, the fear they felt and experienced, Eddie’s love and respect for both his father and mother, the resolve that was required for Eddie and his father to make the split second decisions they needed to make to ensure life over death and the strength it must have taken to have survived the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Eddie grew up in Leipzig, Germany. He loved everything about Leipzig and was a proud German citizen. Eddie considered himself German first, German second and Jewish last. His family was not very religious or devout. They observed Shabbat and kept kosher. Eddie had his Bar Mitzvah when he turned thirteen. Right after his Bar Mitzvah, Eddie’s father decided that it would be a good idea for Eddie to learn a trade. Eddie was sent far from his house to study complicated and advanced medical machinery. Eddie pretended to be an orphan. He had to hide his Jewish affiliation since anti-semitism was on the rise in Germany. Eddie proved to be one of the best students in his class. Shortly before the end of his instruction, Eddie decided to travel home to see his family. Unfortunately, Eddie had chosen to arrive on the night that became known as Kristallnact or The Night of Broken Glass. Shortly after he arrived at his family’s home, Eddie was beaten by Nazi soldiers and sent off to Auschwitz.

Over the years Eddie endured the atrocities of starvation, illness, fear, constant hunger, merciless murders either by the gas chambers, bullets or by hanging and being treated worse than animals by the Nazis. Auschwitz took everything away from Eddie but not his spirit. Eddie’s knowledge of machines saved him from death on more than one occasion. He never forgot to thank his father every time this happened for his wisdom and foresight to push Eddie to learn about them and receive an education. Eddie had one close friend in Auschwitz. That friendship also made his deplorable life a little brighter at times. Eddie promised himself that if he was to survive the nightmare he was living, he would smile everyday for the rest of his life.

When Eddie was finally liberated from the horrors of the Holocaust, it took a while for him to adjust to being free. He kept his memories of the Holocaust buried deep inside him. Eddie married, immigrated to Australia and had two sons. Over time, Eddie felt ready to share his story. He spoke to large groups, to school age children, to anyone that would listen. Eddie kept his promise to himself. He smiled everyday. Eddie Jaku had survived the Holocaust and that was something to smile about.

I gained such admiration for Eddie Jaku after listening to him recount his life, which included the good moments and the agonizing painful memories of the Holocaust. Eddie Jaku would have been a person that I wished I could have encountered and befriended during his lifetime. He had such a positive outlook on life despite all he had been through. The Happiest Man on Earth was thought provoking and so inspirational. I applaud Eddie Jaku for sharing his story. Many Holocaust survivors find this difficult to do. Many experience survivor’s guilt. Many were not even able to tell their own children about all that they had lived through. I am grateful that Eddie Jaku was able and willing to tell his story. This is a time in history that must never be forgotten. Future generations must be told these stories so that another Holocaust can never be repeated.

The Happiest Man on Earth was emotionally draining and yet it lifted my spirits as well. It was about friendship, family, love, gratitude,tolerance, kindness, remembering, strength, courage, fear and so many senseless deaths. I highly recommend the audiobook of The Happiest Man on Earth if you have not had the opportunity yet to listen or read it.

Profile Image for Pan Macmillan Australia.
103 reviews28 followers
Read
May 18, 2020
Eddie is just amazing. I sobbed, I chuckled and I wondered how he could possibly be so positive. His survival is testament to how he approached life and survived a darkest of times. He makes you think that our current situation is heaven compared to those dark years. A fantastic book that should give all of us a chance to think and be grateful for where we are now. I can't recommend this enough especially as May marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.

- Robin
Profile Image for Liong.
105 reviews52 followers
October 25, 2022
I am so lucky that I read this book.

I learn to be grateful that I can live in a peaceful world nowadays.

Thank you Eddie for telling his story for us.

We must be grateful if we are living in a free and democratic world.

We must stand for human rights and freedom of speech. There are not free.
Profile Image for Karen.J..
177 reviews176 followers
May 24, 2022
The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Such an incredible inspirational story by Eddie Jaku. Taking the horrific times through his life and changing it into a love of life. “The Happiest Man on Earth” is definitely a must read for everyone.
Profile Image for Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews.
1,864 reviews262 followers
August 10, 2020
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com

4.5 stars

‘Through all the years I have learned this: life can beautiful if you make it beautiful.’

As soon as you open The Happiest Man on Earth, a 2020 Pan Macmillan Australia publication, you will gain a new life coach in Eddie Jaku. Eddie, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, is a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. Eddie is also a Holocaust survivor, with an infectious mantra on happiness that should be followed by all citizens of the world.

A German citizen of Leipzig, Eddie Jaku was born to a Jewish family. This embracing family fold wanted the very best for their children, so when Eddie came of age, he was sent away to study mechanical engineering. Without this early education, Eddie would never have managed to come out of World War II alive. When Eddie was just nineteen years old, he was transported to a concentration camp. Through a period of over seven years, Eddie survived two concentration camps, prison farms, factory work as a prisoner and the notorious death march, just before liberation. In this time Eddie was subjected to many evil acts of violence and brutality, but he also witnessed moments of kindness. Despite the loss of his family, friends and home, Eddie lived to tell his tale. Although it took decades for Eddie to share his story with others, he is now one hundred percent committed to educating the world about survival, resilience, hope, peace, acceptance, kindness and happiness. Eddie knows that he owes it to the millions of Jewish people who didn’t survive the Holocaust to share their story.

The Happiest Man on Earth has been categorised as a historical autobiography but I see this text as a kind of life guidebook, inspiring the reader to embrace joy, happiness and friendship. It is a humanitarian based tale that will ensure that you never take your life for granted again. Although many of us in Australia and the world are currently facing trying times, The Happiest Man on Earth delivers a timely reminder, that life is what we make of it. Life can be endured and survived, but we can also grasp onto those important moments of hope to carry us through the dark times.

Told in a first person style format, over fifteen very moving, inspiring and surprising chapters replaying Eddie Jaku’s life story, The Happiest Man on Earth is an incredibly honest account of this pillar of strength’s world. The tone Eddie takes to his book is warm, embracing, personalised, grounded, simple and factual. There are so many dark moments, but these are interchanged with Eddie’s appreciation for the simple things in life. These include a kind gesture, memorable encounters with friends and his sheer survival instinct. We follow Eddie’s early life in Leipzig, through to his student days, his arrest, two concentration camp experiences, prison postings and the death march that eventually set him free. From his medical recovery, to the assistance Eddie provided to other Holocaust survivors, through to his marriage, the birth of his son, the move to Australia and eventually ending in Eddie’s current role as an inspirational speaker, The Happiest Man on Earth covers a lot of ground in a compact format. I read Eddie Jaku’s book in just an afternoon, it was impossible to put it down and I came away feeling grateful, thankful and inspired.

Let The Happiest Man on Earth into your life for an afternoon, or an evening and hopefully you will come away with the same feelings I did of not just utter heartbreak, but of a newfound appreciation for life. I will leave you with these parting words from Eddie Jaku.

‘Happiness does not fall from the sky; it is in your hands. Happiness comes from inside yourself and from the people you love. And if you are healthy and happy you are a millionaire.

And happiness is the only thing in the world that doubles each time your share it. My wife doubles my happiness. My friendship with Kurt doubled my happiness. As for you, my new friend? I hope that your happiness doubles too.’

*Thanks extended to Pan Macmillan for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

*Book #8 of the 2020 International Male Author Challenge.
Profile Image for Max.
172 reviews280 followers
January 28, 2023
Die aktuellste und gleichzeitig vllt. letzte Zeitzeugenerfahrung zum Holocaust.

Sieben Punkte für einen oft beklemmenden und informativen Erfahrungsbericht eines Leipziger Juden, der Buchenwald und Auschwitz sowie einige Fluchten durch Europa und zum Schluss sogar einen Todesmarsch überlebt hat. Schlussendlich baute sich Jaku mit Ehefrau und dann zwei Söhnen ein neues Leben in Australien als u.a. Immobilienmakler auf.

Ich werde meinen beiden 6. Klassen in Ethik in der nächsten Woche zwei längere Passagen vorlesen, die das Leben in den Baracken in Auschwitz thematisieren. Zuletzt schauten wir den Jungen im Pyjama, da passt dieses Buch gut.

Jaku, Jahrgang 1920, schildert die Zustände, etwa das Schlafen nackt im Winter ohne Decken auf Holzbohlen. Das sind Details, über die ich so nie nachgedacht hatte. Wer außen schlief, war früher tot. Auch die Güte, die ihm im Lager mitunter widerfährt und die er in mutigen Taten ebenso zurückgeben möchte, hat mich berührt.

Die Grundfrage und Existenzkrise seines Lebens lautet natürlich: Wie konnte diese hochzivilisierte deutsche Gesellschaft, in der politische Regularien, aber auch Künste und Wissenschaften fundamental verankert waren, innerhalb weniger Jahre oder Monate zu einem Unrechts-Staat der Sadisten und Wegschauer mutieren. Jakus Vater war selbst ein patriotischer Deutscher, dessen Vaterlandsstolz aber keinen Schutz bot: Wie fast alle Mitglieder der Familie starb er durch die Rampensortierung in Auschwitz.

Das Wasser im Wein sind für mich einige Versuche der Heldenverehrung persönlicher und nationaler Art. Aber das sind Dinge, die anderen vllt nicht negativ auffallen.
Im letzten Viertel bekommt der Bericht dann Schlagseite hin zu optimistischen Slogans, die sicher tief empfunden sind, mir dennoch unangenehm konservativ und banal vorkamen. "Das Leben ist nicht nur gut. Die schlechten Seiten musst du auch nehmen." "Alle Kunden hielten mich für den einzigen ehrlichen Makler Australiens." An wenigen Stellen stehen Aussagen, die mich den vorzeitigen Abbruch haben erwägen lassen; Typ: Selfmade-Kapitalismus meets Paulo Coelho-Kalender. Da zieht sich das Buch plötzlich.

Natürlich kann man etwas Positivität in dem Kontext gut gebrauchen und durch einen maximal einfachen Stil liest man das letzte Viertel auch recht rasch durch.

Ich bin also gerne Jakus neuer Freund geworden bin und danke ihm für die Schilderung der unermesslichen Erfahrungen. Damit der Holocaust nicht vergessen wird. Die Bewertung hätte ich nicht gebraucht.
Profile Image for Susana Frazão.
240 reviews3 followers
March 31, 2021
Este livrou chamou-me a atenção pela capa ..qualquer livro que me transporte para os meus queridos avós é sempre uma compra obrigatória.

Sabia que o tema era pesado e por vezes ficava um sentimento de tristeza e de peso na leitura, mas a esperança e o amor que o Eddie transmitiu ao longo de todo o livro comoveu-me bastante..como é que alguém passa pelas maiores atrocidades e ainda consegue sentir esperança ?

Recomendo bastante este livro e estou de coração cheio por ter conhecido o "amigo Eddie", como ele se intitula no final.. Um ser Humano Extraordinário <3 <3
Profile Image for Grace.
69 reviews
April 25, 2021
This. Book. Is. Incredible. I have been sobbing for half an hour 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

One thing that has always fascinated me about Holocaust survivors is how they managed to find hope in the darkest of places. Eddie’s story is just unbelievable and the way he describes not only what happened to him, but what motivated him to survive the atrocities he faced, is incredible.

This quote from page 155 was just beautiful:
“Here is what I learned. Happiness does not fall from the sky; it is in your hands. Happiness comes from inside yourself and from the people you love. And if you are healthy and happy, you are a millionaire. And happiness is the only thing in the world that doubles each time you share it.”
Profile Image for Tracey.
356 reviews19 followers
January 1, 2023
This is an excellent, well-written Holocaust's survivor's memoir. It is filled with optimism amidst the horrors, deprivation and tragedy of the Holocaust. Mr. Jaku's bravery, resilience, and courage are amazing. His messages of love, hope, and friendship are truly heart-warming. I am so thankful that he shared his story.
I listened to the audio book version of this novel, and the narrator, Raphael Corkhill, has a captivating voice and does an outstanding job.
Profile Image for Matty.
72 reviews
January 18, 2021
I was really keen to read this book as I’d heard a bit about the author’s story & seen him interviewed on TV. His story truly is incredibly remarkable & needed to be shared... as he states in the book, he shares his story for other Holocaust survivors & also to teach people not to hate. The book definitely came at the right time, with so much division & hatred playing out on the News, particularly in the US. But though the story is amazing, something was lost for me in the retelling. He says towards the end that “words are not his strong suit” and unfortunately it shows. It reminded me of Tattooist of Auschwitz- written in a rushed, simplistic sort of way. The book was less than 200 pages but could’ve been much more if there was more detail, nuance & time spent on things that were merely skimmed over (like how did he get from here to there - so many parts of his journey would be so interesting but we just jump over them). A great man though - and I will try to keep his sentiments with me.
Profile Image for Colleen Fauchelle.
494 reviews60 followers
August 26, 2020
Wonderful. Sometimes it takes courage to keep going in horrible situations, but this lovely man proves it is possible and you can still see good in the hard days. We do make mountains out of moll hills sometimes and it’s good to read book that shows you your life is easy compared with those during the Second World War. This lovely man will teach you courage and what it takes to survive.
Wonderful
Profile Image for fourtriplezed .
443 reviews90 followers
January 28, 2023
This is a very easy read and was knocked off in a couple of hours. It has been an honour reading about Eddie and his life and have nothing but admiration for him and how he was able to survive the disgrace, to put it very mildly indeed, that was the Holocaust.
Profile Image for Skorofido Skorofido.
256 reviews173 followers
January 7, 2022
Σ’αυτού του είδους τις μαρτυρίες δεν έχεις να πεις και πολλά πράγματα… απλώς διαβάζεις και βγάζεις τον σκασμό… κι ανακαλύπτεις πως όλα αυτά που θεωρείς πολύ σοβαρά προβλήματα, όπως ότι η γυναίκα σου παράβρασε το κουνουπίδι ή το αφεντικό σου σου την είπε γιατί δεν έβγαλες σωστά τις φωτοτυπίες, ακόμα και το γεγονός πως ήρθε το τέλος του μήνα κι εσύ δεν έχεις μία για νοίκι, είναι τίποτα μπροστά σ’αυτά που πέρασαν οι άνθρωποι στα στρατόπεδα συγκέντρωσης…
Δεν είναι η πρώτη μαρτυρία που διαβάζω από επιζήσαντες του Ολοκαυτώματος… ήδη ο Λεβί ήταν από τους πρώτους που τόλμησαν κι έγραψαν τις αναμνήσεις τους στο χαρτί…
Στο βιβλίο του Έντι Τζέκου δεν ψάχνεις για λογοτεχνικότητα... δεν είναι αυτό το ζητούμενο... διαβάζεις το βιβλίο κι είναι σαν να τον ακούς... (άκουσα στη συνέχεια την ομιλία του στο TedX και ναι δεν άλλαξα άποψη). Γλώσσα που ρέει, μια προφορικότητα που σε συναρπάζει κι ένα μάγκωμα στο στήθος, που λες, ρε γαμώτο, σε τι κατάσταση θηρίου μπορεί να φτάσει ο άνθρωπος. Πόσο πιο χαμηλά μπορεί να πέσει;
Αυτό που με εξέπληξε (δεν βρίσκω άλλο ρήμα) είναι πως ο Τζέκου είναι 100 χρόνων... και παρά τα χρόνια που βαραίνουν την πλάτη του, παρά την πορεία της ζωής του μετά το Άουσβιτς, παρά την ευτυχισμένη καθ’ομολογία του, μετέπειτα ζωή του, τα σημάδια έχουν χαραχτεί τόσο βαθιά στο σώμα και στην ψυχή του, που δεν μπορεί να τα σβήσει... δεν μπορεί να μιλήσει ακόμα γι’αυτά που έζησε στον γιο του... έχει υποσχεθεί στον εαυτό του να μην πατήσει το πόδι του ξανά στη Γερμανία και την κράτησε την υπόσχεση αυτή... όλο αυτό μου θύμισε τα λόγια του παππού μου: «Ευχή και κατάρα σού δίνω, να γυρίσεις όλο τον κόσμο, αλλά ποτέ να μην πατήσεις το πόδι σου στην Τουρκία» (κατάλοιπο της μικρασιατικής καταστροφής που βίωσε η οικογένεια μου) και ναι το τήρησα...
Ο Τζέκου κατάφερε (μόνο ο ίδιος ξέρει πως) να αναγεννηθεί μέσα από την αγάπη της Φλορ και τη γέννηση των παιδιών του και να δει την ευχάριστη πλευρά της ζωής... υπάρχουν όμως και οι άλλοι, όπως η Σάρα που γνώρισα προσωπικά που δεν τα κατάφεραν... που κι αν σώθηκαν από το Άουσβιτς, που κι αν παντρεύτηκαν κι αν έκαναν 4 παιδιά, η ψυχή τους, το πνεύμα τους έμεινε για πάντα εκεί...
Ποτέ ξανά...
Μόνο πεντάρι σ’αυτού του είδους τα βιβλία...
Profile Image for Eve Dangerfield.
Author 26 books1,157 followers
August 17, 2020
I always tell my children 'I brought you into this world because I wanted to love you, you owe me nothing but that.'
So much crying. Such an incredible story. Live another 100 years Eddie.
Profile Image for Rain.
1,439 reviews28 followers
August 1, 2022
This story brought tears to my eyes.
Here is what I learned. Happiness does not fall from the sky; it is in your hands. Happiness comes from inside yourself and from the people you love.
It's hard to say anything bad about this story because of everything Eddie survived. Honestly, the writing doesn't flow very well, and it felt like so many important pieces were left out. But maybe the simplistic nature of his words almost resonates better without the flowery embellishments of a ghost writer.
Kindness is the greatest wealth of all. Small acts of kindness last longer than a lifetime. This lesson, that kindness and generosity and faith in your fellow man are more important than money, is the first and greatest lesson my father ever taught me. And in this way he will always be with us, and always live forever.
I loved my new friend Eddie's message.
Profile Image for Ugnė | pilna_lentyna.
193 reviews105 followers
December 27, 2022
Perskaičius pavadinimą, pagalvojau apie visas motyvacines knygas, kurių labai nemėgstu. Perskaičius, supratau, kad jei visos motyvacinės knygos būtų kaip ši, gal net pakeisčiau savo skeptišką požiūrį į jas.⠀

Edis Jaku - vokietijos žydas, 1938-aisiais patekęs į koncentracijos stovyklą. Knygoje vyras dalijasi savo gyvenimo istorija - išgyventu siaubu, keliaujant per mirties stovyklas, tačiau vistiek save vadina laimingiausiu žmogumi Žemėje.⠀

Knyga plona, tačiau kupina nesuvokiamo žiaurumo ir vilties. Skaitant, dažnai prisimindavau "Dievų mišką" - tik B.Sruogos pasakojimas pilnas skausmingos ironijos, o "Laimingiausias žmogus žemėje" - pozityvumo. ⠀

Pradžioje svarsčiau, kaip žmogus, išgyvenęs tiek baisumų, gali taip džiaugtis gyvenimu. Pabaigus, supratau, kad būtent tokios patirtys ir padeda įvertinti paprastų dalykų svarbą ir grožį. ⠀

Dėmesio verta autobiografija, kuri, tikiu patiks ir nemėgstantiems šio žanro. ⠀
Profile Image for Jeanette.
376 reviews46 followers
February 20, 2021
"My dear new friend.
I have lived for a century, and I know what it is to stare evil in the face. I have seen the very worst in mankind, the horrors of the death camps, the Nazi efforts to exterminate …" - The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku.

This is another remarkable story of survival during the Nazi regime's purge, barbaric treatment and atrocities to those of the Jewish culture and religion. Also included in their brutality were Communists, Gypsies, and the disabled to name just a few as well as anyone who did not toe the Nazi line.

The book reads like a diary account of Eddie Jaku's life. It is important that these accounts be in the public domain to act as a forever witness in the hope that such atrocities are never repeated.

Eddie didn't start off with this name, he was Abraham Soloman Jakubowicz born in Leipzig 1920. Leipzig, a centre for the arts and culture for over 800 years (beautiful, the home of Bach, Schumann Goethe, Nietzsche and one of the oldest orchestras in the world).

In 1933 with the rise of anti Semitism Eddie was refused further education at the high school, not to be outdone his father arranged false documents under a new name and Eddie was sent away to study. He was not able to contact his parents for five years, he could not be discovered and when he finally graduated instead of joy, he broke down, his parents not able to be at his graduation as an engineer and his qualifications were under an assumed name. These years of isolation from his family made him self-sufficient, independent and assisted him in surviving his years in the concentration camps. His skills were put to good use by the Germans but as with everyone in these camps who weren't immediately gassed, Eddie suffered like so many who perished through torture, hunger and disease.

The resilience of this man is astounding. He moved to Australia where he and his wife brought up their children. It wasn't until later in life that he started to talk about his experiences, reliving horrors difficult for anyone. He assisted in establishing the Jewish Museum in Sydney and has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. (OAM).

14 April 2020 Eddie turned 100 years.

"may you have lots of love to share
lots of good health to spare
and lots of good friends who care"
Profile Image for Alana.
44 reviews17 followers
January 9, 2021
This should be essential reading. Eddie’s story and teachings of hope, positivity and tenacity in the face of darkness and evil will stay with me forever.

I cannot skim the surface of the harrowing life Eddie and many survivors and descendants has lived in order to provide a comprehensive review of this book. Instead I would like to share some lessons that I have taken from my new friend Eddie.

1. There is a life beyond all darkness.
2. It is vital to have values.
3. Sorrow shared is sorrow halved. Happiness shared is happiness doubled.
4. There is only one thing more beautiful than loving someone, and it is being loved.
5. It does no good to teach your children to be afraid. If you are not free in your heart, don’t take away your children’s freedom.
6. Love can hurt, but that same love can save a life. It might even save yours.

Listening to this audiobook at this precise time in my life feels like a gift, or maybe an intervention. I am adept in finding myself stuck in ruts of frustration or disappointment, and Eddie’s story has renewed the part of me that I was losing. Thank you @bookswithleesh for recommending this - I owe you.

Please read this. It is so important. It will be hard at times, but it will make your heart sing.
Profile Image for Ugnė Lukošienė.
261 reviews5 followers
July 31, 2022
Oho. Wow. Išliks ilgam... Eddie - vilties ir gėrio pavyzdys visam pasauliui.
Knyga trumpa, bet joje nedaugžodžiajama - aprašomi jo svarbiausi įvykiai gyvenime. O kone po kiekvieno skyriaus, Eddie pateikia viltį, mintis, jog ir mes kaip jis, niekad nepasiduotume...
Turbūt neveltui jis išgyveno tiek metų. Jis turėjo misiją - jo istoriją turėjo išgirsti visas pasaulis...
Po knygos įsijungiau youtube įrašus su juo ir pravirkau.
Eddie, ilsėkitės ramybėje... Jūsų gimimas šiame pasaulyje visiems mums - dovana!
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