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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas would easily top my list of Worst Books about the Holocaust.I am writing as one who was there I was once myself a boy in striped pajamas and am a survivor of six German concentration camps This book is so ignorant of historical facts about concentration camps that it kicks the history of the Holocaust right in the teeth.John Boyne's premise is that the nineyear old son of the commandant of Auschwitz, bored with his isolated life, takes walks to the fence surrounding this infamous camp and meets there a nineyear old inmate who is on the other side of the fence The two boys become friends and continue meeting on a daily basis Here is some news for Mr Boyne The 10ft high barbed wire fence surrounding each camp was electrified Touch if once and you are fried There was a noman's land on each side of the fence; along the inside perimeter of the fence were guard towers; each tower was manned by an armed guard around the clock; each guard was responsible for one segment of the fence within his vision; it was his duty to prevent anyone from approaching the fence, either from the inside, or from the outside; he was under orders to shoot anyone he saw approaching the noman'sland.In addition, along the outside perimeter, prominent signs proclaimed, STOP Danger HighVoltage Electricity So that even a dense nineyearold would get the message, a skull and crossbones were pictured at the top of each sign Let me add this A nineyearold boy arriving in AuschwitzBirkenau on a cattle train would take only a single walk in this camp: from the train to the gas chamber.The Boy in The Striped Pajamas makes a mockery of these very basic facts It is a fantasy that does untold damage to the cause of truth about the Holocaust This book has only one purpose: to make a lot of money for the author and the publisher And this purpose it accomplishes The publisher recently proudly trumpeted in an ad in the New York Times: over onemillion copies sold and still going strong And that's not even counting the profits from the revolting movie based on this book.Peter KubicekAuthor of MEMORIES OF EVIL a factual book about the Holocaust that will never make it on any list of best books about the Holocaust because my book tells it the way it was: there was nothing cute, nothing in any way benign about the concentration camps These camps were about brutality, starvation, and sheer terror. Two innocent boys, and two very different worlds, separated by a not so infallible fence.Berlin 1942, middle of WWII, beginnings of the Holocaust Bruno is a little boy of barely nine years old, son of a very well standing german family His life passes relatively uneventful until one day his father is appointed commander in a faraway region Bruno, his sister Gretel and his parents are compelled to relocate to OutWith, to a much smaller house, forsaking family and friends, and sacrificing everything for the important rank promotion In this new house isolated from the rest of the world, Bruno finds a small window that allows him to see at the distance an incredibly large area with tiny little huts; and an endless number of tiny little figures dressed in a curious striped outfit Mature, old people and children In a huge wire fenced field.Excellent historical fiction novel A must read alongside the Diary of Anne Frank Two unique and different perspectives of a same tragedy A novel about the cruelties of war, and the self invented differences that lead humanity to separate itself Highly recommendable Very powerful Painful as few others.Still remaining, the movie (2008).Until next time, Dos niños inocente, y dos mundos muy diferentes, separados por un no tan infalible alambrado.Berlín 1942, mediados de la segunda guerra mundial, principios del Holocausto Bruno es un pequeño nene de escasos nueve años, hijo de una familia alemana de buen pasar Su vida transcurre sin mayores problemas hasta que un día su padre es designado comandante en una región lejana Bruno, su hermana Gretel y sus padres se ven obligados a reubicarse en OutWith a una casa más pequeña, abandonando familia y amigos en sacrificio de la importante promoción laboral En esta nueva casa aislada del mundo, Bruno encuentra una pequeña ventana que permite entrever a la distancia una enorme cantidad de pequeñas chozas; y un sinfin de pequeñas figuras vistiendo un curioso uniforme de rayas Gente adulta, mayor y niños En un enorme campo alambrado.Excelente novela histórica de ficciٕón Un must para leer del tema, junto al Diario de Ana Frank Dos perspectivas únicas y diferentes de una misma tragedia Una novela sobre las crueldades de la guerra, y sobre las diferencias autoinventadas que llegan a separar la humanidad Muy recomendable Muy poderosa Dolosoa como pocas.Queda pendiente ver la película (2008).Hasta la próxima, 3.5*I didn't love this, but I did appreciate the fact that it had a very powerful message (and an ending I wasn't expecting at all) My feelings were definitely changed by the fact that the author describes the story as a fable The abstractness makes a lotsense in that way Definitely an unforgettable read, nonetheless!
As Michael Kors once sighed to a clueless designer on Project Runway: Where do I start? Let's open with some descriptive words that sum up this book, and I will then go on to explain them in further detail: Patronizing Insipid Smarmy Just plain bad Patronizing: I believe that to write good children's literature, you have to think that children are intelligent, capable human beings who are worth writing for like Stephen King, who probably thinks kids are smarter than adults The author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, on the other hand, clearly thinks that children are idiots The main character, Bruno, is supposed to be nine years old, but compared to him Danny Torrance of The Shining (who was six) looks like a Mensa member There's childlike naivety, and then there's Bruno, who is so stunningly unobservant and unperceptive that I actually started to wonder if he was supposed to be mentally deficient somehow And he's not the only child who receives Boyne's withering scorn and condescension Take this scene between Bruno and his sister Gretel, when they've just moved to their house at OutWith (as Bruno insists on calling it, despite being corrected many times and seeing the name written down) and are wondering how long they're going to stay there Bruno's father, a commandant in charge of the camp, has told the kids that they'll be there for the foreseeable future and Bruno doesn't know what that means 'It means weeks from now,' Gretel said with an intelligent nod of her head 'Perhaps as long as three.' Gretel is twelve years old, by the way TWELVE See what I meant about Boyne thinking kids are morons? Insipid And Smarmy: this book was not meant for kids to read It's meant for adults who know about the Holocaust already, so they can read it and sigh over the precious innocent widdle children's adorable misunderstanding of the horrible events surrounding them and how they still remain innocent and uuuuuuggggggghhhhh There's a scene towards the end, where Bruno puts on a pair of the striped pajamas so he can visit his friend on the other side of the fence Bruno has had lice, so his head is shaved When he puts on the pajamas, the Jewish boy observes him and the narration commits the following Hallmarkworthy atrocity: If it wasn't for the fact that Bruno was nowhere near as skinny as the boys on his side of the fence, and not quite so pale either, it would have been difficult to tell them apart It was almost (Shmuel thought) as if they were all exactly the same really YES JOHN BOYNE I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE Just Plain Bad: This book is, technically, historic fiction, but I'm not putting it on my history shelf, because there is nothing historical in this book Bruno is supposed to have grown up in Nazi Germany, the son of a high ranking SS officer, but based on his knowledge of everything, he's spent his entire nine years sitting inside with his eyes shut humming loudly while covering his ears Okay, I get that he wouldn't know about the concentration camps hardly anyone did at that point But there are other things: Bruno consistently (and adorably!) mispronounces the Fuhrer as the Fury (I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE JOHN BOYNE), and doesn't recognize the following key words and phrases: Jews, Fatherland, Heil Hitler What The fuck Okay, so maybe this kid's too young to be in Hitler Youth (his sister isn't though, but for some reason she's not in it either), but come on he thinks Heil Hitler is just a polite way to end a conversation A nineyearold boy growing up in a military household in Nazi Germany doesn't know what Heil Hitler means.All of this comes back to my original thesis: John Boyne thinks that children are idiots Look, Boyne: just because you don't understand anything (history, children, good writing) doesn't mean the rest of us are quite so useless Go cash your checks for that awful movie adaptation they did of this book and never try to make a statement about anything ever again, please Read for: Social Justice in Young Adult Literature A powerful concept, but very poorly written (even allowing for the young adult target audience) and one of a tiny number of books I can think of that was better in the film version.PlotBruno is 9 and lives in Berlin in 1943 with his parents and 12 year old sister They are wealthy and his father is an important soldier who is promoted to be the Commandant at Auschwitz The trick of the story is that Bruno doesn't realise the horror of what goes on behind the barbed wire, where everyone wears striped pyjamas, even when he befriends a boy of the same age at a corner of the camp Although his father can be strict and distant, Bruno is unfailing in his trust in the goodness of his father In the film, there was at least a gradual, if reluctant, dawning of doubt about his father and all he stood for, but that doesn't happen in the book; the themes of family, friendship and trust are barely touched on.Implausible IgnoranceThe main problem is that it's told from Bruno's viewpoint, and he is ridiculously naive and ignorant for the son of a senior Nazi Not knowing, and not wanting to know, the horror of what was happening is entirely understandable (especially when a parent is involved) However, he hasn't heard of the Fatherland, thinks the Fuhrer is called The Fury (throughout), that Auschwitz is called Out With and that Heil Hitler means goodbye! Yet we're meant to believe that he's the 9 year old son of a senior Nazi! His father had clearly been neglecting his duty to train the next generation of Hitler youth And anyway, the puns wouldn't work in German What is eveninsulting to readers is that Boyne has responded to this widespread point of criticism by saying that anyone who thinks the boy is too naive is denying the holocaust! (See Kelly H (Maybedog) comment on Oct 02, 2012 and subsequent ones).Other Flaws* Surely some aspects of Schmuel's plight would have been glaringly obvious (emaciated, shorn hair, possibly liceridden, ragged clothes etc)?* There are several stock phrases that are trotted out annoyingly often (a Hopeless Case, mouth in the shape of an O, if he was honest as he always tried to be).* They talk of miles not kilometres and feet not centimetres, which might not matter were the rest of itrealistic.* Just occasionally, and completely out of character, Bruno talks in an unnaturally adult way (If you ask me we're all in the same boat And it's leaking, and a nasty person who always looked as if he wanted to cut someone out of his will).It might have worked better if Bruno had been 5 or 6, but I suppose the target audience would have been less willing to read it, so the result is a book that isn't really suitable for any age group What a waste.Postscript 1Arising from Kelly Hawkins' review:Boyne says:I think the most frequent criticism of the book in the years since it’s been published is that Bruno is too naive People say: “He’s verging on the stupid – how could he not know?” For all the criticisms you can make, I always feel that’s the wrong one because he’s grown up in a house with his father wearing a uniform, so I always think why would be question it? There wouldn’t be any motivation for him to suddenly turn around… if your father came home wearing a doctor’s uniform every day, you wouldn’t turn around one day and ask: “Why are you wearing that?”So, Bruno is kind of representing that blindness, in a way When he goes to the fence, and when he asks that question, he is kind of representing the rest of us who are trying to understand the Holocaust and find some answers to it Also, when the camps were liberated, the world was surprised through 1945 and 1946 The majority of the Holocaust had taken place over four years and, granted, it was a different information age but I still maintain that in those sorts of movies, the naivety is appropriate It’s based on real life.From: he is quoted as saying that naivety and complacency were two of the main reasons the Holocaust occurred ().I find that a very unsatisfying defence It answers why people don't want to know the horrors (which I fully acknowledge), but does not begin to tackle Bruno's specific ignorance of common words related to the Third Reich Postscript 2, October 2015His new book has a similar title and another Nazi theme with Hitler himself this time: The Boy at the Top of the Mountain I won't be reading that, but I suspect it will cause similar controversy.Postscript 3See this excellent review by a survivor of Nazi concentration camps Boyne (posting as John) responded to some of the criticisms: 4, 14 May 2017In today's Sunday Times, the Prime Minister Theresa May was asked by a 19year old in her constituency, Has your thinking ever changed because of a novel?She replied:A book that brought something home to me was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas It is a very, very cleverly written book and a very wellwritten book, and what it brings home is the absolute horror of the Holocaust.Hmmm. I seriously suggest you read about what happened to real children in the Holocaust It won't fill your thoughts for many days or shock you; rather it will fill your LIFE and make you feel sick to the core of your being.Paul Friedlander, himself a survivor, recounts in his recent highly praised book the incident of 90 Jewish infants all under the age of five, orphaned after their parents were murdered in a mass shooting.These children were subjected to indescribable mistreatment for days.Then they were individually hanged.I read this with horror, revulsion and total disbelief.(ref.The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939 1945)Or the incident of the young German soldier participating in the evacuation of the patients in the hospital in the Warsaw Ghetto In the presence of a distraught Jewish crowd of relatives and onlookers, patients were being thrown onto the backs of trucks.The babies were being thrown from the upper windows The soldier requested and was given permission to catch the falling babies on his bayonet.(ref The Holocaust the Jewish Tragedy by Martin Gilbert.ISBN 0 00 637194 9 )There are so many historical inaccuracies and ludicrous details in this totally implausible story of Boyne's eg Bruno's ignorance of basics, impossible when he would have been in the Hitler Youth and the Nazi education system.This travesty of the Holocaust is called a 'fable' as if with all its faults, it has special claim on some gravitas, thus giving Boyne justification for this lame expose of racism.I was a member of the Jewish Holocaust Committee here in Sydney for a while and once had to endure a young rabbi lecturing on how the Holocaust was God's punishment on the Jews So there are fools to be found inside the club as well as outside it.Not a single pure ethnic German child entered a gas chamber as part of the extermination of the Jewsalthough many died in Germany as part of theprewar killing of disabled and retarded children.When protests brought this program to a close the same staff were later sent to operate the gas chambers in the camps.And for six million Jewish men, women and children there was no saviour This bitter pill is too much for some people to swallow.Some, like the young rabbi, takes refuge in blaming the very victims;others find refuge in sentimental fiction such as Boyne's which does no honour to these tragic, lost people And today there are perverse forces abroad, from renowned historians to Catholic bishops, who would deny that the Holocaust ever took place or to an extraordinary lesser degree.They use every discrepancy of detail as well as lies to justify their denial So for anyone touching on this subject it is vital and morally incumbent on them to GET THE FACTS RIGHT.There is an overwhelming library of rivetting, emotional, inspiring and tragic Holocaust stories out there all factual, which you may have already plunged into Boyne may even have led you there But finally Boyne just deserves to fade away.P.S.The Oscar winning Foreign Language film of 1997, Life is Beautiful, was also, not surprisingly, referred to as a 'fable' It also is an implausible piece of Holocaust sentimentality and a stampede away from having to swallow the bitter pill of reality. quick reread because, lets face it, im highkey obsessed with john boyne this is my seventh JB book in less than a month when i hit my tenth, someone please stage an intervention lol.i first read this years ago, so i forgot just how innocent the perspective of this story is which i think makes it evenhaunting we, as humans, are not born with hatred; its something we learn and acquire throughout life and what a horrible thing that is to see how carefree a child can be in the most horrific of times is so heartbreaking, because it shows he doesnt have to capacity to see how truly monstrous humanity can be this story is definitely one to make your mind reflect and your heart ache ↠ 4.5 stars &FREE E-PUB ↶ The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas ↻ John Boyne's The Boy in Striped Pyjamas will no doubt acquire many readers as a result of the subsequent film of the novel, but viewers of the latter would do themselves a favour by going back to the spare and powerfully affecting original book Bruno is nine years old, and the Nazis’ horrific Final Solution to the “Jewish Problem” means nothing to him He's completely unaware of the barbarity of Germany under Hitler, and is concerned by his move from his wellappointed house in Berlin to a far less salubrious area where he finds himself with nothing to do Then he meets a boy called Shmuel who lives a very different life from hima life on the opposite side of a wire fence And Shmuel is the eponymous boy in the striped pyjamas, as are all the other people on the other side of the fence The friendship between the two boys begins to grow, but for Bruno it is a journey from blissful ignorance to a painful knowledge And he will find that this learning process carries, for him, a daunting priceA legion of books have attempted to evoke the horrors of the Second World War, but in this concise and perfectly honed novel, all of the effects that John Boyne creates are allowed to make a maximum impact in a relatively understated fashion given the enormity of the situation here The Boy in Striped Pyjamas is also that rare thing: a novel which can affect both children and adults equally; a worthy successor, in fact, to such masterpieces asTo Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Ryeboth, of course, books, dealing as does this one with the loss of innocence Barry Forshaw The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is truly an amazing yet daunting novel that I will never forget The author John Boyne did a masterful job of depicting the setting in such vivid detail and exposing the events in a manner that I felt a constant emotional pull as the story unfolded and impending doom lingered on the horizon.I was recommended this novel a while back while reading The Book Thief, but after finishing that story and experiencing such deep sadness, I knew I couldn’t jump into another novel about the Holocaust for quite some time I’m glad I waited because as with other works that cover this topic, distance and perspective is key I feel the author did a grand job of juxtaposing two resounding themes in such a flawless manner; one being of the evil that was the Holocaust; against the second theme that of the innocence of a child I thought it was brilliant of Boyne to tell the story from the perspective of a nine year old German boy as you experience the events of this abominable and unthinkable time in history as a mere complicit bystander, which ultimately leaves you with a sense of hopelessness The story unfolds the day Bruno arrives home to discover his family is moving from Berlin to Auschwitz where his father will serve as a Commandant for the concentration camp Bruno is forced to leave his three best friends for life and discovers that life in Auschwitz is lonely and desolate All that changes the day he meets a boy his exact age and they begin to forge a friendship over the course of year However, as much as he finds he and Schmuel have in common, living on opposite sides of the fence proves to have a devastating consequence to their friendship.After completing this book, I did some research on the author and the novel and found that he not only received well deserved praise for this book, but also harsh criticism As with any piece of literature, when words are committed to page and presented to an audience for their interpretation there will be varying degrees of acceptance and backlash Couple that with such a sensitive topic and you’re bound to get a reaction Well, my hats off to John Boyne for tackling a story through a unique perspective and presenting a poignant fable that as a reader I willingly suspended my reality and experienced the events in a way that exposed my emotions and feelings to such a raw level Well done IMHO. When I was very young, I lived in Romania Because there was past drama in my family, I had three grandmothers and two grandfathers I was close to two of my grandmothers and one of my grandfathers, because they lived near my mother, brother, stepfather and I.The other couple, I only saw during summers They lived in the country, where there was no indoor bathroom, no internet, no chocolate and no sense of community (that I felt at the age of six) Every morning, I would wake up from the best of dreams: that my mom would be coming that day to pick me up But she never did, because she was far away and we had to stay for three whole months with our grandparents.I felt lonely I had no one to play with There was my brother, but just like Bruno’s sister, he was older and we had nothing in common, or so it seemed at that time One day, I met a little girl I was surprised I’d never seen her before, because she was the daughter of our neighbours I was so happy that I immediately invited her to our house.We played for a while, and it was wonderful For once, I wasn’t thinking about going back home or feeling bad about ignoring the eager little dog we had that always scratched my legs badly I had a friend.When my grandfather woke up from his nap and saw me playing with this girl, he was so angry I thought he would hurt her He shooed her away forcefully I didn’t understand his reaction Why couldn’t I play with this little girl? We both liked dolls and we weren’t doing anything wrong.I was six, what did I care that she had a darker skin colour, spoke another language entirely and prayed to different gods? It made me so mad, I became a lion I roared at him, and roared until I had novoice Then I cried, because there was nothing else I could have done as a very young child.She was too scared of my grandfather to talk to me again There was a huge wall between our houses and I could see nothing of what was happening on their side, so I never saw her again either I understand the loneliness Bruno felt all too well.Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google | Bloglovin’