on January 1st 1970
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“The Meaning of Life is to give life meaning.” -Viktor E. Frankl
I love books which not only educate me but cause me to think and feel. This did all three! There is a lot of history in this book. The Author did a tremendous amount of research for this book and it shows. Not only is there world history, there is personal history as well. I learned a lot while reading this book about pre-war Palestine and World War II from a European Perspective. I also learned the personal history of the Author’s father (Fritz Hausman/Haim Hausman/Fred Stanley Houseman) who was born in Germany was sent away from Nazi Germany in 1934 at the age of 13, after the murder of one of their friend’s children. Young Fritz went to live on a kibbutz in Palestine, where he changed his name to Haim, and befriended and tamed a spirited horse (Amon). Eventually Fritz/Haim becomes the highest decorated Jewish WWII Palestinian (future Israeli) soldier in the British Army. When not taming horses, falling in love, fighting in war, excelling at languages, and being a loyal friend, he was an artist. An artist who in 1948 turned in illustrations to a kibbutz publishing house, never knowing that the book he provided illustrations for went on to be known as “the pearl of Israeli children’s literature”.
Einat Amitay, Israeli computer scientist with breast cancer searched for the illustrator of the book “And there was evening”. She felt this book gave her life meaning and even while battling cancer, drew upon her strength and energy to search for the illustrator of the book she held so dear. Her search for the identity of the illustrator was extensive and often exhausting to her. Eventually she learns the illustrator is Haim Hausman.
Their stories are combined in this book which shows the real-life struggles and accomplishments on of man and the woman searching for the illustrator of a book which had a huge impact on her life.
How is it that we forget our heroes but remember the names of serial killers? Seriously, there are so many heroic deeds done and unfortunately not all of them will ever be acknowledged or remembered. This book tells one man’s story from childhood up until 1942. The Author does give us some information on his father’s life, how his father told him of his life before and after the war. He was a quiet hero, never bragging about his accomplishments. Fritz/Haim/Fred achieved a lot in his life, especially in his early life. One never knows what they are capable of until they are put to the test.
He received many medals for his service and deeds performed while in the Army. The real crime is that his family has not received all of them. Medals were stolen and were purchased by a collector. Mr. Hausman’s Distinguished Conduct Medal being one of the medals stolen and sold. The final part of the book contains correspondence back and forth between the Author and various individuals as he attempts to get back his father’s medal.
This book is well written with chapters dedicated to the Author’s father and to Einat Amitay. Although his father’s entire story is not told, which may leave some readers with questions, we are given enough information about his formative years, Years that most young men would be living carefree but because he grew up in the time he did, he lived in constant danger with threat to his life. He persevered and continue to draw, to laugh, to ride Amon and become an important figure living on the kibbutz. He went on to fight and survive a wound and move to the Untied States. His story is not only about his accomplishments but about triumph of the human spirit, of loyalty and of following your goals (to be an artist). This is a highly personal book and the Author is not keeping the profits from the sale of his book but is using them to help bringing home the stolen medals to their rightful owners.
I reviewed a copy of this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review.