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Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto
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Archive: Other Books > Irena's Children, A True Story of Courage by Tilar J Mazzeo - 5 stars

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Booknblues | 6210 comments 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 worker prior to World War II and continued during the war. She used her skills to organize a network of resistance workers intent on saving Jewish children from the clutches of the Nazis. Tilar Mazzeo is to be commended for her research uncovering many of the players in this network. It is inspiring to realize how many ordinary people were involved and working against the Nazis in this horrible time.

Even though this book is nonfiction, it is anything but dull. From the start, I couldn't put it down. I'd like to share the beginning of the prologue:

Warsaw, October 21, 1943

Aleja Szucha. Irena Sendler knew her destination. The door slammed shut up front, and the black prison car lurched into motion. she had been given only minutes to dress and her fair bobbed hair was bed tousled.

Janka Grabowska had run down the front path with her shoes and thrust them at her at the last moment, braving the violent caprices of the soldiers. Irena hadn't thought to lace them. She was focusing on just one thing: staying calm and keeping her face blank, placid. No sad faces. That was the wisdom Jewish mothers gave to their children when they left them for the last time in the care of strangers. Irena wasn't Jewish, but it was still true that sad faces were dangerous.


The one thing that makes this difficult reading is the sheer number of people which Mazzeo has included. However she has provided a listing of characters in Irena's network at the end of the book to which the reader can refer to. Some of these could even have a book of their own. I know that I would love to read one about the heroic nurse of the Warsaw ghetto, Ala Golab-Grynberg.

I would recommend this book to any and all interested in this era. I believe a number of Play Book Tag members would enjoy it.


Karin | 7204 comments Hmm, another book for my tbr!


Booknblues | 6210 comments I really loved it.


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