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Those who fear they have been desensitized by the sheer volume of information chronicling Nazi brutality in occupied Europe must read this memoir. During WWII, Karski lived an adventurous but harrowing existence, which included time and torture in a Gestapo prison and work in the Polish underground, where he witnessed and reported to Allied officials the first news of the genocide of Jews. His accounts of his activities and the atrocities he witnessed were compiled as they happened, which gives his story shattering impact. There are episodes of high tension as he and his colleagues seek to avoid capture. Other stories are horrific as he conveys the sadism of Nazi overlords allowed to exercise virtually unlimited power over helpless people. Even more shocking was the apparent disbelief or indifference of some Allied officials to his reports, either because they suspected exaggeration or because the truth was too monstrous to accept. This is an exciting but often painful recounting of one man's witness to terror and tragedy.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
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First published to instant acclaim in 1944, Karski's memoir-supplemented here with photos, facsimiles, and a foreword by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright-tells of the four years (1939-1943) he served as the leading liaison officer in the Polish Underground during Nazi occupation. Only 25 in 1939, Karski recounts his work linking various aspects of the underground's extensive administrative, political, and economic apparatuses, as well his capture and subsequent torture at the hands of the Gestapo (he likens being beaten by a rubber stick to "the sensation produced when a dentist's drill strikes a nerve, but infinitely multiplied and spread over the entire nervous system"). After his capture, Karski was twice smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto, where he was horrified to discover "hunger, misery, the atrocious stench of decomposing bodies, [and] the pitiful moans of dying children." He also briefly entered the Chelmno death camps, where he witnessed Jews being murdered in cattle cars through asphyxiation and burning by quicklime. Sent in 1942-1943 to London and Washington, D.C., where he met with British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden and FDR, respectively, Karski delivered the first shocking eyewitness reports of the Holocaust to the Western world. Briskly paced, this is a gripping and immediate account of Nazi brutality from a brave leader of the resistance. Karski, who died in 2000, was awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. B&w photos & illus. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.