cover image Smoke and Ashes: The Story of the Holocaust

Smoke and Ashes: The Story of the Holocaust

Barbara Rogasky. Holiday House, $19.95 (187pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-0697-5

Aimed at the same age group as Miriam Chaikin's recent A Nightmare in History, this book also examines Hitler's rise to power in the context of long-standing anti-Semitism, and the devastation and horror wrought by his policies of imprisoning and exterminating the Jews. Whereas Chaikin moved readers by fleshing out stories of individuals, Rogasky elicits considerable power from an unexpected sourcestatistics and lists, and the cold-blooded notations of officers carrying out their duties: ``3208 people had to be transported three miles before they could be liquidated. . . . '' She compares the numbers and aspects of other holocauststhose suffered by American Indians, Armenians, implore readers to understand what made this Holocaust unique. Other areas of focus include the late, inadequate response of the United States and United Kingdom, and the rise of anti-Semitism in the '80s. Most compelling is the attention given to rebellion and resistance by Jews; it stuns the imagination to read of the man who leaped from a body-filled pit to tear out the throat of an SS commander with his teeth. Perhaps the saddest statistic is the one revealing that many were too weak to live even when liberated. ``In the areas freed by the Americans, French and British, 60,000 Jews were found alive. Within one week, 20,000 had died.'' Black-and-white photos from archival collections, documents and maps give this volume accessibility, and add to the tragic mood that pervades each set of sobering numbers. Ages 11-up. (May)