I was born two years prior to America entering the hostilities of WWII and saw my father and uncles sent away to a world event that I could not understand. I just understood over those years that it was a dangerous conflict and there were cruel people trying to take over the world. All but one of my family returned safely. The one that did not was a US Navy pilot. So, my curiosity concerning that period has always been with me.
I have learned much from both historical fiction as well as memoirs and biographies. It was reasonable then, when attending a book signing event, to obtain a copy of what seemed like four short stories of historical significance, ‘Women of Valor’.
I knew, of course, about the Nazi evils and the pogroms against Jews and other groups. I also knew the worst of all the cruelty had taken place along the Eastern frontier. These things I knew in the abstract but I had never heard, or read, a personal account of any survivor who had actively resisted. Now I come upon a book of personal accounts – survivors of the resistance and they were young women!
Author, Joanne Gilbert has successfully captured the vivid trauma, loss, pain, fear, emotions, and bravery of four young (one being very young) Jewish women through actual interviews with these most amazing, now elderly, ladies.
Author Gilbert’s ability to bring out the details of the remembrances of these four women show a talent and empathy that makes for a first class and unique piece of the historical record.
She brings you the lives of Manya Feldman, Faye Schulman, Lola Lieber, and Miriam Brysk in such vivid detail that the reader stands beside them as they move through the forests of Poland with partisans and through the intrigues of the cities, the newly formed ghettos, and personal encounters with the German high command.
This book I highly recommend, as it is most difficult to put down once begun. I would not be surprised if these recounted stories were pick up by other media such as film. Valor and honor such as told in this book should be a part of every human’s consciousness.