cover image All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs

All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs

Elie Wiesel. Alfred A. Knopf, $35 (448pp) ISBN 978-0-679-43916-5

Wiesel's immensely moving, unforgettable memoir has the searing intensity of his novels and autobiographical tales. Before his family was arrested by Nazis in their Romanian village and transported by cattle car to Auschwitz in 1944, the devout, studious future Nobel Peace laureate had plunged into Jewish mysticism, hoping that his Kabbalistic prayers and formulas might ward off impending tragedy. In the concentration camps, he came to know his formerly aloof and deeply loved father, Shlomo, a rabbi, whose death in Buchenwald in 1945 left Wiesel, then 16, numb. Living in a French orphanage, he learned of the deaths of his mother and younger sister, and was reunited with the two sisters who survived. Wiesel, who gradually recovered his religious fervor, wrestles with the problem of having faith in the post-Holocaust era. As a Paris-based journalist aiding the Jewish resistance movement in Palestine, he discovered his calling--to testify to Nazi genocide, to justify his own survival. Moving to New York in the mid-1950s as correspondent for an Israeli paper, he covered civil rights struggles, the Eichmann trial in Israel and the 1967 Six Day War, befriended Golda Meir and David Ben-Gurion and supported persecuted Soviet Jews. His ascetic bachelor existence ended when he fell in love with and married Marion in 1969. He writes also of his formative friendships with Yiddish poet/thinker Abraham Yeoshua Heschel, Talmudic scholars Gershom Scholem and Saul Leiberman and itinerant mystic rabbi Mordechai Rosenbaum (``Shushani''). This haunting, impassioned book will make you cry yet, somehow, leave you renewed, with a cautious hope for humanity's future. Photos. First serial to Parade. (Dec.)