"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana
We need only to look back to Rwanda, and now to Darfur, to see that once again we are living the worst of times. Who better to guide our understanding and give us hope than Martin Graya man who survived the worst of times, flourished, and still managed to find joy in living?
Martin has come full circle since his boyhood world was turned upside down by the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Overnight, the teenage Martin and his family were immersed in the horrors of the Holocaust and held captive in the Warsaw Ghetto. It was a nightmare of brutality, starvation, and death. Martin became a clever smuggler to help his family surviveuntil the "butchers" of Treblinka took his mother and brothers. Against impossible odds, Martin survived and returned to fight in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. As the Nazis incinerated the ghetto, he escaped to fight with the partisans, and then the Red Army.
After the war, Martin made his way to New York. The cunning and skills he developed during the war enabled him to learn the language and create a successful business. At 35, he retired to France with a fortune and a beautiful Dutch wife, starting a family and living in happiness and peace. But his world was shattered once again by a forest fire that engulfed his fleeing family. In a tragic repeat of history, Martin alone survived.
Martin Gray's past could be our future if we don't heed his call to be the change. In this 35th anniversary expanded edition of For Those I Loved, a book beloved by millions of readers worldwide, Martin reminds us that the past is connected to the present. Only we can ensure that history is not repeated.
Martin Gray still lives in the South of France and has devoted his life to his family, writing, human rights, and environmental and cultural causes. He received the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Award and the Gold Medal of European Merit.
This book is certainly an action-packed thrill ride; it seems almost like a shoot-em-up movie. If you believe everything Martin says, the man is a superhero. The fact that he's found a way to live after having lost his entire family TWICE shows that he is quite an extraordinary man.However, I'm not sure I buy his story. I'm not saying he is deliberately lying or that the events he described didn't happen (though many people do call him a liar), but I am unsure of his perspective. Martin portrays himself as an almost supernaturally intelligent, streetwise, tough and clever young man, and claims to have become a major smuggler (rather like a gangster) in the Warsaw ghetto when he was only about sixteen. He recounts story after story where he got into a bad situation and pulled himself out using only his own resources. In the book's afterword he drops a lot of names, pointing out he was close personal friends with Pablo Picasso, etc. It doesn't seem real to me, and I don't think Martin properly credits the role sheer dumb luck played in his survival.Other than Martin himself and perhaps his father, none of the characters in the story have any dimension. Martin writes again and again about how he had to survive the war and avenge his dead mother and brothers, but these people are shadows. He says almost nothing about them, not even their names or ages. I'm not even sure how many brothers he had. I think two, but possibly more. Martin was also attempting to tell his story in the honor of his dead first wife and four children, but again, the reader doesn't really know any of them.This is not to say I don't recommend this book. I do. I would especially recommend it for "reluctant readers" who find books boring; this book is anything but dull. I just have reservations, that's all.read more
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