Night by Elie Wiesel Book Review

From my 2008 Amazon review of the book Night by Elie Wiesel:

I just completed reading NY Times besteseller Night by Nobel Prize winning author Elie Wiesel and it's a stunner. An Oprah book club pick, this short, 120 odd page book, or as The New York Times describes it, "a slim volume of terrifying power", is a must read. There is even a Cliff Notes version of this copyright 1972 book which is newly translated by Elie Wiesel's wife.

The book is about the atrocities of WWII concentration camps, but what makes it different than most others is the first person narrative which makes the ugliness of one human to another radiate with reality. Without any spoilers here, the book tracks several weeks in the life of Elie's family as they are literally brought into the night of sadness and death.

What makes this book -- a quick read and very worthwhile -- even more unique is the very short, simple and yet eloquent writing style of it's author. The sentences are staccato, like a machine gun, with a "plain vanilla envelope" style that only adds to the books readability and believability. Like the reality of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, which is punctuated by his use of black and white grainy film and hand held cameras, Night sticks to basic descriptions that serve to move the recounting rapidly and realistically. Weisel, like Romero, understands that the power of our imagination to "fill in the gaps" with the most harrowing and vivid images could never be superceded by an author's bloated descriptions. He allows the reader's mind to live and breathe the horror.

Romero's movies are fiction; Wiesel's first hand account at the loss of his family is fact. The book's ending, and at several points within the book, displays the seething optimism and will to live that percolates through the core of every human being, even in the face of death.

I hope someone else will read this post and, looking for a quick and powerful read, choose this book.

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