Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Secret of Priest's Grotto
Taylor, Peter Lane and Christos Nicola. 2007. The Secret of Priest's Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story.
I love a good Holocaust story. Especially if it's a true Holocaust story. The Secret of Priest's Grotto is a nonfiction account of how several families in the Ukraine survived the Holocaust by hiding for more than one year in underground caves. The book tells two stories. One of the stories is how Taylor and Nicola came to be researching and exploring the cave. How the men discovered that this cave had once housed Jews during World War II. Once that discovery was made, the search was on to find the survivors. To see if any of them were still alive. To see if their history could be recorded and preserved. The survivors were found. They were interviewed at length. And their stories were shared. The second of the stories is how the Jews came to find the cave(s), how they fought to survive, what life was like underground, etc. The stories are told together, bit by bit. Each one is interesting. Each one is important. I liked the behind-the-scenes approach to research. How it detailed the steps, the tiny steps, along the way finding a great story. I think it is important to show all the journey along the way. Not just the final destination. History can really come alive that way when it is at first a puzzling mystery. But the legacy--the oral history--of these survivors is amazing. One of the survivors had written an account in the seventies to preserve the family's history. And of course there were new interviews as well. Anyway, the story is incredible. And it is very nicely done. The pictures in this book--both from the past and present--are fascinating. Overall, I recommend this one highly.