cover image And the Sea is Never Full: Memoirs 1969-

And the Sea is Never Full: Memoirs 1969-

Elie Wiesel. Alfred A. Knopf, $30 (448pp) ISBN 978-0-679-43917-2

This second volume in Wiesel's memoirs (the first was All Rivers Run to the Sea) is--as a memoir by this Jewish novelist, activist and Nobel Peace laureate must be--a moral accounting, of himself and of those he has known. And he spares no one, from Israeli U.N. ambassador Abba Eban to French president Fran ois Mitterrand, in an honest report on how he believes they have let him down. The tale resumes here with Wiesel's marriage in 1969, at the age of 40, and follows the author through his most active years as a goad to the world's memory (of the Holocaust) and conscience (in the realm of human rights, especially those of Soviet Jewry). The events are often dramatic: one of the book's climaxes comes in 1985, when it was announced that President Reagan would visit Bitburg, a German cemetery where SS members are buried, and Wiesel had to decide whether to receive from Reagan's hands the Congressional Gold Medal. Courageous as ever, he accepted the award--and used the occasion to speak truth to power, urging Reagan to change his plans for the trip. Wiesel is equally forthright about the political maneuvers and infighting that led him to resign from chairing the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council before its task, building a museum, was even begun. Despite the failings of humanity, which he relates so well, he remains optimistic about the future. Wiesel's writing is as fluid and evocative as ever, and his storytelling skills turn the events of his own life into a powerful series of morality plays. No one who cares about ethical imperatives should miss this book. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.)