Last year for English, I had to read Elie Wiesel’s Night and I loved it. My mom, being my mom, decided that she would go ahead and buy me the other two books he wrote. I finally got the chance to read his second piece of work and I am so happy I could. If you haven’t read any of his stuff, you need to get on it. And I am going to try and convince you to read this book with this spoiler free review.
Author: Elie Wiesel
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Published: March 21, 2006 (Originally 1960)
Pages: 81 (Paperback)
Elisha is a young Jewish man, a Holocaust survivor, and an Israeli freedom fighter in British-controlled Palestine; John Dawson is the captured English officer he will murder at dawn in retribution for the British execution of a fellow freedom fighter. The night-long wait for morning and death provides Dawn, Elie Wiesel’s ever more timely novel, with its harrowingly taut, hour-by-hour narrative. Caught between the manifold horrors of the past and the troubling dilemmas of the present, Elisha wrestles with guilt, ghosts, and ultimately God as he waits for the appointed hour and his act of assassination. Dawnis an eloquent meditation on the compromises, justifications, and sacrifices that human beings make when they murder other human beings.
About the Author: Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel was a Romanian-born American Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor. He was the author of 57 books, written mostly in French and English, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. Along with writing, he was a professor of the humanities at Boston University, which created the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies in his honor. He was involved with Jewish causes and helped establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. In his political activities, he also campaigned for victims of oppression in places like South Africa and Nicaragua and genocide in Sudan. He publicly condemned the 1915 Armenian genocide and remained a strong defender of human rights during his lifetime. He had been described as “the most important Jew in America” by the Los Angeles Times. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, at which time the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a “messenger to mankind,” stating that through his struggle to come to terms with “his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler’s death camps”, as well as his “practical work in the cause of peace”, Wiesel had delivered a message “of peace, atonement and human dignity” to humanity. He was a founding board member of the New York Human Rights Foundation and remained active throughout his life.
Elisha has just been ordered to kill a man. A man he has never met before. A man who has no purpose in dying. But being an Israeli freedom fighter, he has no choice. At the age of being 18, being a fighter, and a Holocaust survivor, he has seen enough. Elisha has to do what he needs to with the help of his friends, he begins to wonder about what life could be like.
This book is both similar and very different from Elie Wiesel’s other work all at the same time. The book has a lot of the same ‘what if’ questions and a lot of talk about God and the power of prayer. But at the same time, it is so different. Other than being a novel unlike Night, this book follows the story of Elisha who is ordered to kill a man. I don’t think this book was as good as Night but it was still pretty good.
The writing of the book was amazing and Elie Wiesel knows how to pull a reader into a book. There were some errors when it came to the grammar and some of the punctuation but I sort of just attributed that to the fact that it literally got lost in translation. For a book that has less than 100 pages, it was written so well and it was developed nicely. I was so shocked that these characters were thought out so well and so developed that I really enjoyed them. I wish we got to find out a little more about Gad and a few other characters but Elisha was thought out so well.
Elisha is the main character of the whole book and he had such a great backstory. I almost felt like Elie based Elisha off himself. Elisha sort of makes the story. There were times that I thought he did some stupid things but without these stupid things done, the whole theme and plot wouldn’t be the same. There was the whole deal with girls and trying to figure out what the world really wants him to do with his life.
With all the talk about ‘what ifs’ and the questions about life that Elisha had, it really made me think. The questions were answered but I felt like the size of the book really prevented Elie Wiesel from fully answering the questions. They really did make me open up my mind though. It has me thinking about so many things now and really viewing the world a different way. I never really viewed what it was like to be told to kill someone. My dad was in the military and he had to see stuff like this and he was told to go fight for the country. But I really never fully understood what it was like to go and kill someone. This book really taught me. It was just such an eye opener and I really think about things totally differently.
Overall, I have to give this book a 4 out of 5. I think Night still has to have the spot of my favorite but this one was still pretty good. I am really excited to read his other work though. I have it sitting on my shelf for whenever I have the time to. Let’s just hope that it is before next year. But if you have read his other work, you need to totally give this book a try. It is such an eye opener and you will leave this book a changed person, no matter what you think.
Have you read this book? Have you read any of Elie Wiesel’s works? What did you think about them? Are you into books like this? Did you prefer Dawn or Night? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!