by Elie Wiesel
I scarcely have words to describe this book. It’s short – about 115 pages if you skip the introduction and the foreword (don’t skip them, or if you do, take the time to go back and read them). I think it took me about an hour and a half to get through it, mostly because I was rushing and just wanted it to be over. I’ve still got some guilt about that, actually. Part of me feels obligated to read it every single day, as a reminder of what humans are capable of when we don’t honor and respect one another’s humanity.
As a child, Wiesel’s family was incarcerated in Auschwitz. I say incarcerated because really, what other verb works here? Wiesel could easily and justifiably have written a lengthy, melodramatic, lecturing tome, but instead “Night” is simple, straightforward, and easily one of the most heartbreaking, nauseating, soul-crushing pieces of literature I’ve ever read. Ever.
It would take me far more than 115 pages to describe how vividly Wiesel talks of torment, starvation, death, and human nature. I’ll skip all of that and settle on telling you all to read it. Right this minute.
“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
“I am not so naïve as to believe that this slim volume will change the course of history or shake the conscience of the world. Books no longer have the power they once did. Those who kept silent yesterday will remain silent tomorrow.”