Book The Eighty-Seventh

Defiance by Nechama Tec

The story of the Bielski partisans, who saved the lives of over one thousand Jews by hiding them in the forest during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

I don’t know why I have never heard of Tuvia Bielski before. This man, whom many of the survivors interviewed likened to David and other heroes from Jewish mythology, went against the idea of fighting the Nazis (although he did a fair bit of that as well) and maintained that survival was an act of faith, so even those who could not fight must be given a place. The introduction to this edition of the book, rereleased to coincide with the Daniel Craig movie from earlier this year, is by the director of the movie wondering how he had never heard of Bielski before he read the book, and the opening chapter has Tec herself at a loss as to how this story is not more widely known.

This book is not an action packed adventure story, rather a methodical recounting of a massive effort that, over the course of two years, saved many, many lives. Anyone with even a passing interest in World War Two, the history of the Jews, or just in heroic figures needs to read this book.

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