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Book Review: By Chance Alone by Max Eisen

Book Review: By Chance Alone by Max Eisen

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Hello All,

If you have been following my blog you know that I have mentioned this book in my top 5 memoir books! I just recently started to enjoy reading WW2 books so I thought why not give this one a try. Man am I glad that I did! It was so emotional and eye opening! This personal perception of concentration camps was shocking and I found as I read more I was more and more shocked. I was utterly appalled at the sheer disrespect for human life. I know we have all studied the Holocaust in school and maybe some school went into more depth than mine. I guess I never really thought too much about the people affected just that it was a tragic point in human history. Well this book clearly changed my view and I am very glad that Max was brave enough to share his story with the world!!!

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By Chance Alone started off with the prologue of Max in present day going to Poland with his Toronto students to participate in the March of the Living. He goes back to Auschwitz and the barracks where he was held as well as Auschwitz II where the crematoriums were . What would that even feel like? He knows this is where he lost his family to a horrible death. What a brave man.

Now the story starts and we see Max’s childhood in Czech. He lived in a Catholic dominate village but most of the shops were run by the Jewish families. His grandfather taught him a great deal but of course like any little boy he had a rebellious streak. We see just how tight nit his family was with his extended family as well. The summer of 38 was when the Nazis invasion started. Britain and France at this point signed rights away to Hitler to avoid a war. March 1939 the Nazis troops invaded Czech and Max and his family find themselves thrust into a fascists system.

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1941 hit and Jewish males 18-45 were taken to labour camps. Max’s family is finally torn apart by the war. In the 5th year of the war 1944 we see that the Hungarian Jewish people did not know about the death camps. His grandfather said no to the ferester because it was passover – how their lives might have been different if he had just yes. Max was finally taken to the concentration camps. After being taken from his mother and sister he along with his father and uncle got tattooed and put on their uniforms. These made them feel like nothing as all of them were the same – all in order to control a vast number of people.

Throughout the weeks there Max’s father learned of the fate of his wife, 3 young children and his parents. Max was sent to Auschwitz 1 the bigger of the camps. There he saw the falling ashes coming out of the crematoriums. He realized it was human ashes from the extermination. The manual labour he faced here was astonishing. At this time he was the only living member left of his family as his father and uncle were sent to the chambers.

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During one of his laborious days he suffered a devastating blow to his head that in reality saved him. Up until now his father would send him scraps of food so Max was completely by himself. Dr. Orzesko saved his life by giving him a job in the surgery ward, not having to go back to the labour fields. Max saw all sorts of crazy heroic things here. One day a Polish woman was brought in and an abortion was preformed but Dr. O said she needed an appendectomy. Some humanity left in the world.

The next horrific journey for Max was the death march. Max describes 10 days of humiliating, degrading and cruelty of the Nazis. They had no food, minimal clothing and many died. Once again out of the camps Max was saved by the small kindness of others, Misha giving him a job.

At this time, after everything was over Max was still left in limbo in Marienbad . This allowed the survivors a safe place to heal both physically and emotionally – as much as they can.

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Now in Prague Max and his new friends tried to find forged passports to make to move to Canada. They got caught and sent Max to jail. At this point it’s hard to believe that this could really happen to someone who survived the Holocaust. How insane is life. After all this only to end up in jail most people would give up, not Max.

He got out and on his way to the American camp he had to pass through the area he had 5 years ago as a Jewish prisoner. He made it to Canada and got married, had a successful job. The resilience and determination to live that Max showed us through is memoir is a true triumph for humanity. Even through all the adversity Max was able to have a happy life.

At the end of the book he recalls the Nuremberg Trials and specifically a Nazis soldier he personally remembered. They amount of brain washing these soldiers had is sickening. Even after being caught and knowing how the world reacted to their actions this soldier did not accept his part in the killing of many. He simply said he was following orders.

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So for those of you who like reading about the strength of the human spirit Max’s story is for you. The amount of bravery not only to endure what he went through but to be able to remember it and tell the whole world is mind blowing. I hope that by sharing this review it will inspire more people to want to pick up Max’s story and continue the sharing.

I did leave out quite a lot of details. Max just went through so much I tried to pick out as many main details that people could link to history as possible. There are so many extra in his book I did not want to ruin it for future readers. If anyone else has read this book I would love to hear how it affected you! Please leave a comment below!! Thank you Max for being brave and sharing your story!!

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Happy Reading!!!!!

book blogger, book review, Books, books, Fiction, inspiration, Literature, top 5

Top 5: Memoir Books

Top 5: Memoir Books

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Here with another top 5 I bring you my fav memoir books that I have read over the years. Now I already know that some people will add the Micheal Obama’s book and Shoe Dog to this list. Unfortunately I have not read them yet but from what I have heard about their reviews they are amazing. I have just recently gotten into reading biographies and memoirs and I am finding I really enjoy them. It’s something about the awe inspiring life stories and the strong spirited people in this world that make for a great read. Some of the stories really put your life into perspective. I think it takes a lot of courage for the authors to put their lives on display for millions to read. Whatever feels you get from reading their stories I appreciate the work that goes into each book and hope by mentioning the books below you have a change to appreciate them as well.

  1. By Chance Alone by Max Eisen Good reads 4.51 stars
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This has to be my favourite memoir book! By Chance Alone puts the Holocaust both leading up to, during and afterwards into sickening reality. What Max and his family went through was unspeakably evil and hardships. Throughout the book we see that he was able to survive on the kindness of strangers and pure determinations. When the story is so dark it’s nice to see glimmers of light scattered throughout. I found it incredibly shocking how resilient the mind and body can be without breaking while still being about to live a ‘normal’ life after the events occurred. To see how trivial human life was treated and what other humans can do to each other was a real eye opener. We all learned about the Holocaust in high school but to read of first hand accounts puts things into a different perspective. The trial at the ends was another injustice for the survivors.

2. Educated by Tara Westover Goodreads 4.49 stars

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I got this gem for Christmas last year and what a great present it was. Tara shares her past with us and what it was like to grow up in a doomsday Mormon household. I found it baffling to read the hardships both mental and physical Tara and her brothers/sisters went through growing up on their farms. To the multiple car accidents to the many injuries sustained on the junk fields it’s crazy to think they all survived with minimal health care- in some cases none. To see Tara struggle in adulthood and the shear powers and determination to change was inspiring. To break habits and beliefs has to be one of the hardest things to accomplish. This an inspiring read of overcoming hardships in the quest for a better life and a life one truest to oneself.

3. A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindout and Sara Corbett Goodreads 4.22 stars

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This was the first memoir I has to opportunity to read and wow what an intro it was. A House in the Sky is the heart wrenching story of worst case scenarios. Amanda was kidnapped while doing journalism in Somalia for 460 days! The utter thought of being kidnapped is unthinkable but to add being tortured is unbelievable. They only way she survived is to take herself out of her body to the ‘house in the sky’. Even when all hope was lost that the government would step in Amanda was able to hang on to hope that one day she would be back home. Once again we see the resilience the mind and body exhibit when pushed to the limits.

4, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelo Goodreads 4.22 stars

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One of the more well known memoirs this was on Oprah’s book club list. To relate to modern day this is an older version of the Me Too movement. Maya is open with all her life hardships with poverty and racism. She tells of all the tragic events that take place but shows how her strong spirit prevails over all. If you are looking for a read when a woman can overcome all obstacles this is the book for you!!!

5. Mourning Has Broken by Erin Davis Goodreads 4.15 stars

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Mourning has Broken is the story of how Erin Davis (A Canadian radio host) lost her beloved daughter. Her journey through grief is revealed all the way through to its core. I may have cried a few times while reading her openness with death and tragedy. Erin’s real and raw emotions were so well told I felt her loss through the pages. It is refreshing for someone to say everyone grieves in their own way and it’s not wrong if you grieve different than what people expect of you. My takeaway is never tell someone who has lost a loved one an ‘at least’ statement. When in doubt say nothing!.

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I hope these have given you a great insight to how wonderful life stories can be. Whether you are reading a tragic life story or a story of overcoming hardships there is a lesson to learn in all of these authors’ courageous books. The resilience of everyday people is amazingly inspiring! If you have any other memoirs you enjoyed please comment below!!!

Happy Reading!!!!!