Schindler’s List, by Thomas Keneally (LentBooks #6)

schindler1I’ve seen the movie many times, most recentlywith my World History class — it’s the one feature film I make time to show in an otherwise overcrowded semester.  I only recently had the urge to read the book, mainly for school-related reasons too — it’s on the reading list for English 32o1, and although I don’t teach it, I do recommend it as one of the additional books students can read to be better prepared for the exam.

I really, really love the movie Schindler’s List.  It’s my favourite Holocaust story (if you can have a “favourite” story about such and awful series of events, but you know what I mean). I think it’s because Oskar Schindler (who is played by Liam Neeson in the movie, which helps) is such an absolutely unlikely hero.  He’s not at all heroic, or noble, or idealistic — all he has is basic human decency, and that’s enough to give him the courage to defy the Nazi system and save over a thousand Jews.  It gives me such hope that a person doesn’t have to be anything special in order to be … well, something special.

So, loved the movie, checked out the book (originally published under the title Schindler’s Ark, but re-issued under the new title after the movie was such a hit). It’s not as good a book, as a book, as the movie is for a movie.  It’s also a little hard to categorize, because it advertises itself as a historical novel, but the author’s careful references to different accounts of the story and what one witness says as opposed to what another says, make it read much more like non-fiction than what I’d consider a historical novel.  It may be labelled a “novel”  because the author feels free to invent dialogue and speculate about characters’ motives, or he may have actually changed some incidents, but the overall feel is much more like a nonfiction work than a novel.

Nothing about the book undermined my love of the movie or the character of Oskar Schindler; it gave a little more insight into him and a lot more into many of the people involved who are only minor characters in the movie.  It’s well worth a read if you’re interested in the period, but for people wanting to get a brilliant, dramatic overview of the story of Oskar Schindler, unlikely hero, I would definitely recommend the movie.

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Filed under Fiction -- historical, LentBooks, Nonfiction -- general

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