Book Review: Dawn

This story takes place right after World War II in British controlled Palestine. The Jews are terrorists in this and both sides are killing hostage for hostage. Religion plays major role in this violence, no surprise there. This is a very familiar story and although some of the sides are switched around, it remains timeless. It is incredible to see Israel act as it has when they, too, were once in the same position as the Palestinians.

The story's narrator and main character is Elisha, who is a tender 18 years of age. He was in a concentration camp, was a mess after liberation and was then discovered by Gad who brought him into the world of terrorism as the world tried to figure out where to relocate the liberated Jews. Now, he is waiting for dawn to kill a captured English soldier named Dawson. This is the Jewish response to one of their captured freedom fighters who was put to death. An eye for an eye, I suppose.

Although Elisha claims that he saw God die many times at the concentration camp, he remains faithful, if not merely fearful. He talks about how it is believed that beggars can sometimes be the prophet Elijah in disguise and that the prophet is ready to reward men who care for him. In another part of the book he says that from time to time God showed himself in the face of a child. Throughout the night he sees a variety of people in his life, a beggar, a child, his parents. All of them feel sorry for him, but they are all there with him in the end. A great quote that summed this up was this one: "An act so absolute as that of killing involves not only the killer but, as well, those who have formed him."

As always, Wiesel writes in very clear and powerful prose. No B.S. No flowery fiction, pretty princess prose. Just a swift punch to the gut. The book is short and to the point. In the end the man that is to be executed by Elisha tells him he feels sorry for him. It is ironic that the man facing DEATH feels sorry for Elisha, his executioner. Pity is a very common theme that sprouts up. As is guilt, which is a very Wiesel-esque theme.

It is interesting to hear how Elisha looks to try to hate, saying that his people were murdered in concentration camps because they were incapable of hating. Elisha tries to redirect his hate for Dawson (which doesn't exist), blaming him for making him a murderer. Then, when that idea bombs, he tries to turn to propaganda and pride to help him hate. Finally, his last attempt has him thinking about David, the man hung by the British. But David is a man he's never met and that plan for hate also fails.

A good book, but I'm biased cause Wiesel is one of my favorite authors. There is just one more quote that I thought was worthy to post: "The silence of two people is deeper than the silence of one."

Indeed. And the silence of many is that much deeper. Remember that when you're voting.

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