Jewish Biographies for Children:


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Edward Teller and the Development of the Hydrogen Bomb

By John Bankston
The child-friendly writing in these books raises them a jot above the standard science biographical fare. Fleming presents the Scottish researcher's quest in cheerful terms, detailing his sports-loving and unconventionally messy life in ways that allow his brilliance to glow without losing sight of the serendipitous absentmindedness of this particular professor. He chose his London medical school on the basis of its water-polo team (it was pretty pathetic medically) and stayed on as a researcher because he was a standout on their rifle team, which allowed him to do the work that would one day lead him to discover penicillin. Teller, somewhat dryer, traces the life and accomplishments of the man who, like other European scientists, came to the United States as a refugee from Hitler and helped build the atomic bomb. Fascinated with the challenge of designing an even more powerful hydrogen bomb, Teller and others created the Lawrence Livermore Lab in California, where the H-bomb would be created.

Description from School Library Journal

Often called the "father of the hydrogen bomb," Edward Teller believes that the device he helped invent, with its potential to kill millions of people, actually made the world a safer place. "I am still asked on occasion whether I am not sorry for having invented such a terrible thing as the hydrogen bomb," he says. "The answer is, I am not." Teller adamantly believes that what he did saved lives. He believes that his discoveries changed the world for the better. A pioneer of the atomic age and one of the many brilliant scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, Edward Teller is as controversial today as he was fifty years ago.

A Hungarian immigrant, Teller fled Nazi Germany and successfully proved that the atomic bomb could be used without creating a world-destroying chain reaction.

But his choices and beliefs have been questioned not just by citizens and government officials, but also by his fellow scientists. Some regard him as a genius and some as a hated person who developed a weapon 1,000 times more destructive than the first atom bomb. Regardless of the opinion people have of him, his impact on the twentieth century is undeniable.

Description from Publisher

Raoul Wallenberg

(Righteous Gentile)

Traces the life of the Swedish diplomat who risked his life to save 100,000 Hungarian Jews during World War II and mysteriously disappeared after the Russians occupied Budapest.

Description from Publisher

Raoul Wallenberg :
The Man Who Stopped Death

(Righteous Gentile)

In the last days of World War II, a young Swedish architect, Raoul Wallengerg, was secretly sent to Budapest by the War Refugee Board of the United States Government. There he did what no other country or individual was able to do: he saved more than 100,000 Jewish men, women, and children from extermination at the hands of the Nazi Colonel Adolph Eichmann. This meticulously researched biography is based upon archival materials and first-person interviews with Wallenberg's family, colleagues, and people he saved. It is illustrated with original photographs. To this day, no one knows the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, but his belief that one person can make a difference endures as a legacy for us all.

Description from Publisher

Story of Reb Elchonon:
The Life of Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman

By Shimon Finkelman

Night By Elie Wiesel
A terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of his family...the death of his innocence...and the death of his God. Penetrating and powerful, as personal as The Diary Of Anne Frank, Night awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.

Description from Publisher

Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's wrenching attempt to find meaning in the horror of the Holocaust is technically a novel, but it's based so closely on his own experiences in Birkenau, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald that it's generally--and not inaccurately--read as an autobiography. Like Wiesel himself, the protagonist of Night is a scholarly, pious teenager racked with guilt at having survived the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.

Description from

Elie Wiesel : A Voice for Humanity
Few Holocaust survivors have gained the recognition and honor that Elie Wiesel has, as an author, journalist, and lecturer s peaking out on moral issues around the world. Wiesel was a young boy when he was taken to Auschwitz, and was among only 400 children who managed to survive the death camp. He has devoted his life since the war to battling injustice, and has been an ardent spokesman for Soviet Jews and for other moral causes. In 1985, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian achievements.

Decsription from Publisher

The Importance of Simon Wiesenthal

By Linda Jacobs Altman
Holocaust survivor Wiesenthal became a passionate Nazi hunter, determined to bring justice to the criminals and remembrance to the victims. The accounts of how he doggedly helped track Nazis such as Adolf Eichmann are compelling detective stories. The reasons why he tracked the war criminals and the facts of who they were and what they did present an unsparing view of the genocide. This is no hagiography. Altman makes clear that Wiesenthal's obsession and egotism have earned him many enemies (even among Holocaust survivors and scholars, including Elie Wiesel). But she also shows the relentless drive and fierce independence that have made him great at his work. Part of The Importance Of biography series, this well-designed volume includes small black-and-white documentary photographs throughout, as well as excerpts from court testimonies, biographies, etc., that extend the discussion of Wiesenthal and Holocaust history. There are also full chapter source notes, an annotated bibliography, and a list of Web sites.

Description from Booklist

This biography of the famed Nazi hunter is both a factual account of his life and a tribute to his importance in history. Altman also provides a succinct history of the Holocaust as she interweaves information about Wiesenthal's early life against the backdrop of Nazism and World War II. The author clearly admires her subject's accomplishments, but remains objective throughout the book. She includes Wiesenthal's antagonistic personality and occasional clashes with other noted Holocaust scholars such as Elie Wiesel. Many of the numerous quotations are from primary sources like diaries, tapes, Wiesenthal's books, interviews, and letters. All quotations are footnoted and a notes section appears just before the comprehensive index. Inset boxes add information on topics like Holocaust vocabulary, anti-Semitism, Hitler's orders for the invasion of Poland, and Raoul Wallenberg. Well-placed, black-and-white photographs enhance the text. Wiesenthal is a fascinating figure unknown to many students and this book is a viable choice for biography assignments or classroom study.

Description from School Library Journal

Simon Wiesenthal :
Tracking Down Nazi Criminals
Jeffrey describes the life and exploits of the famous Nazi-hunter. Although there are many stories of how he caught and brought to justice such infamous war criminals as Adolph Eichmann, Franz Stangl, and even the agent who arrested Anne Frank and her family, Wiesenthal never tracked them in person. Instead, he investigated war criminals by interviewing survivors, keeping careful index card records, advising authorities of the Nazi's whereabouts, seeking their prosecution in the courts, and providing witnesses. The author also touches upon Wiesenthal's connections with Los Angeles's Simon Wiesenthal Center, his stormy relations with Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, and the controversies surrounding the investigation of Kurt Waldheim's wartime activities and Wiesenthal's refusal to denounce him as a Nazi criminal. Some of the black-and-white photos are excellent; others are a bit fuzzy. Simply and clearly written, this book should be of much interest to all.

Description from School Library Journal

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