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Irena's War

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. 
There are a lot of WWII historical fiction books available now. This is the 2nd one about Irena Sendler that I have read and before that, I'd never heard of her. Irena was an incredible woman. She was brave and strong willed and usually not afraid to speak her mind to stand up for what she believed. 
This book seems well researched. It's a fascinating story that should be a more well known part of history.
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This is an amazing fictional account based on the life of Irena Sendler, who refused to give up when the Nazis invaded the area of Poland that she lived in.  She worked undercover to bring food and supplies to starving citizens.  She also was able to smuggle about 2500 Jewish children to safety.  I had never heard of this phenomenal woman before, but found myself reading more about her after finishing this book.
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I am somewhat familiar with the true story of Irena Sendler--an inspirational tale of a strong woman who risked her own life to save thousands of Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.  I was excited to read this historical fiction book because of the incredible story that inspired it, but I was somewhat disappointed in the execution of this novel.  I feel like the author made this remarkable hero an unlikable person, and I never really got a sense of what motivated this character to take the risks she did.  The books does have a lot of action, but I ended up questioning how much was factual and how much liberty the author took for the sake of the story.  I much preferred the book Code Name Helene, another historical fiction book published this year about a British spy in the same time period.
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Based on a true story, Irena’s War by James D. Shipman is an interesting yet poignant novel set in Poland during World War II.

  Irena Sendler watches in horror as the Nazis march into Warsaw in 1939. She is a social worker who has been distributing food and supplies to those in need.  After the Nazi invasion, Irena wrestles with her conscious when Gestapo agent Klaus Rein offers to allow her to continue her job. Finally deciding to continue caring for her fellow citizens, Irena works long hours to secure food as it becomes scarce due to the war and occupation. After the Jewish population are forced to move into the ghetto, Irena turns her attention to helping her friends care for those living in crowded conditions with little food. After she becomes a resistance fighter, Irena risks everything to save the orphaned children in the ghetto escape when the Nazis begin sending the Jews to Triblinka extermination camp.  But, with a traitor in their midst, Irena must hurry to save a final group of children before time runs out.

  With her estranged husband in a German POW camp, Irena lives with her bedridden mother. She has little patience with her mother and she resents the time it takes to care for her.  Irena is not a particularly likable woman but it is easy to admire her dedication to helping those in need. She is deeply devoted to saving as many people as she can and she does not hesitate to take risks to help them. Irena is impatient and easily frustrated when things do not move as quickly as she would like. With Klaus Rein closing in on her operation, Irena’s rescue operations are becoming increasingly dangerous to her and those assisting her.

  Irena’s War is a well-researched novel with highlights the heroic and tireless work of the Polish resistance and Irena Sendler during World War II. The storyline is engaging but the pacing is a little uneven. Irena is a difficult person to like initially but as the story progresses, she becomes less abrasive. James D. Shipman shines a much needed light on this incredible story of Irena Sendler and the resistance group, Zegota.
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Irena Sendler was an amazing woman and this is a fictionalized story of how she rescued 2500 Polish Jewish children from the Nazis.  Told alternately by Irena and Klaus, the SS officer who is certain she's up to something, it's a tense and emotional read.  Irena was a social worker before the Nazis arrived and in 1939 she finds herself running soup kitchens at Klaus' direction.  It's clear to her, though, that more action is needed.  Her work with the Polish resistance group Zegota takes her into the heart of darkness- I can't imagine how she maintained her calm demeanor when dealing with Klaus.  What I liked about this, though, is that Shipman has done his best to show her as a real person, who occasionally loses her patience and her temper.   Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  An excellent read for fans of WWII fiction and for those who enjoy novels based on real life heroines.
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Irena’s War was a bit confusing to me.  I did read the complete book and still was feeling a bit confused.  Something seemed to be lacking in the way the story was plotted out.  I can’t say I disliked the book but it was hard to read it to the end.
I realize this is based on a true story.  Reading the back story at the end of the book was quite interesting and added more insight into the story.  
Powerful story at times. I would recommend it to anyone that is intrigued with WWII historical fiction.
Thank you to NetGallery, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read this book for my honest opinion.  All opinions expressed are my own.
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Back of the Book: “Based on the gripping true story of an unlikely Polish resistance fighter who helped save thousands of Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during World War II, bestselling author James D. Shipman's Irena's War is a heart-pounding novel of courage in action, helmed by an extraordinary and unforgettable protagonist.
September 1939: The conquering Nazis swarm through Warsaw as social worker Irena Sendler watches in dread from her apartment window. Already, the city's poor go hungry. Irena wonders how she will continue to deliver food and supplies to those who need it most, including the forbidden Jews. The answer comes unexpectedly.
Dragged from her home in the night, Irena is brought before a Gestapo agent, Klaus Rein, who offers her a position running the city's soup kitchens, all to maintain the illusion of order. Though loath to be working under the Germans, Irena learns there are ways to defy her new employer--including forging documents so that Jewish families receive food intended for Aryans. As Irena grows bolder, her interactions with Klaus become more fraught and perilous.
Klaus is unable to prove his suspicions against Irena--yet. But once Warsaw's half-million Jews are confined to the ghetto, awaiting slow starvation or the death camps, Irena realizes that providing food is no longer enough. Recruited by the underground Polish resistance organization Zegota, she carries out an audacious scheme to rescue Jewish children. One by one, they are smuggled out in baskets and garbage carts, or led through dank sewers to safety--every success raising Klaus's ire. Determined to quell the uprising, he draws Irena into a cat-and-mouse game that will test her in every way--and where the slightest misstep could mean not just her own death, but the slaughter of those innocents she is so desperate to save.”
Impressions: mmm… Although this is a true story, I am 39% into this book and I have to say I’m not wanting to finish it. 
Disliked: I don’t feel like this is a well-told story. There is so much intrigue and suspense that could have been built up better. The account of Irena’s relationships in her life is shallowly described. She and her friends are written as being close but all the interactions if they are not. The background story of her disaffection to her husband and mother is not well told in this story leaving much to be understood of Irena’s life before the war. Don’t get me started on the strange relationship between Adam and Irena. Does this lack of understanding matter? I think so. At this point, I feel like the reader is just thrown into the confusion of her life with no developed story. I don’t know who Irena was or is and I know she develops into an amazing woman of courage. I’m just not hooked on reading more.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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The fact that this is based on a true story only makes it more gripping and jaw-droppingly addictive.

Irena is a strong and determined woman, but she is not without her flaws. Her determination is often misconstrued (by her mother) as stubbornness and defiance, but always her intentions are the best. Her goal at the outset is to maintain the supply of food to her fellow Poles once the Germans invade. And she refuses to accept that Polish Jews are any less worthy, but she is fighting an uphill battle.

Her path regularly crosses with Klaus, an SS Officer, who is put in charge of the region, and for whom she is the eternal thorn in the side. Once the ghetto is built and her Jewish friends and fellow citizens are installed behind a solid wall, she pushes her boss, Jan, to get her a pass into the ghetto. The only way in is as a medical observer, to check on the infection rates within. Of course, Irena wins him over, using fair means and foul, but either way she now has access to the ghetto. It is there she finds her friends working in the hospital and orphanage. Seeing the conditions faced by the children, she has to get them out.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed by the local resistance who bring her in to discuss future plans to save as many as they can. As the situation deteriorates and residents of the ghetto are rounded up and relocated to Treblinka, the need to save the children becomes ever more critical.

By now, Irena is under pressure from all sides. Some consider her work in food distribution as being work for the Germans, even her Jewish friends come to that conclusion. The Germans – Klaus – see her as a potential pawn, to make it look as though they are treating the Poles well …until he realises she is working against him. Proving it, though, is a different matter and Irena comes close to arrest many times. None of that stops her though; she may fear for her life but she fears for the lives of others more. Remarkable!

Tense times lie ahead, and the story only gets stronger as Irena ploughs on through the machine that is the Nazi regime. She faces losses and wins but doesn’t stop – her resolve is breath-taking.

This is not an easy book to read at times, since the reality of war is not hidden away or glossed over. Being based on true events, it hits home with great impact. As a work of historical fiction, it feels very real and incredibly scary. We should be praising women like Irena more; she saved many more people than Schindler yet has gone unnoticed. Until now. This is a powerful story that bridges fact and fiction beautifully. I would highly recommend it to readers of WWII historical fiction.

My sincere thanks go to Kensington Books and NetGalley for this e-ARC. My review is given voluntarily and with absolute pleasure.
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An amazing book. It is the story of one of the best women the 20th century has ever had. Irena witnessed how her country, Poland, was slowly falling to the mercy of the ruthless Nazis. Nobody would imagine the hell that the Poles would live in the face of such an invasion. As a result of the occupation, the Polish began to starve. The new regiment reduced food supplies. The food restriction was more severe for the Jews because they were assigned a section of the city to live within. Not satisfied with this, Irena decided to risk obtaining a pass to enter the ghetto. Her initial goal was to supply food to Jewish friends, but also to all those she could help. Of course, this process is not easy since the Nazis go through the bags of people who enter the ghetto. Irena must be very cautious and figure out how not to be discovered, or else the consequences could be fatal. For me, Irena is one of the most admirable women that ever lived. I did know the feats she had done, so I decided to read this book to learn more about her story. The author, with his successful narration, made me feel present in each chapter. It was not easy for me to read it, as war is not a pleasant subject. I think it is crucial to know the history and the people who made an effort to stop tyranny and injustice. I thank NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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Historical fiction at its best. What a great book. This is the second book I have read about Irena Sendler and they both compliment each other. Mr. Shipman is a master at description and setting the stage. I can honestly say I was about gagging when the escape literally went into the gutter/sewer drains. His writing is stellar, he makes you feel the tension and the fear, you can hear the bombs dropping and envision the interrogations. 
I admire Ms. Sendler, what an unselfish, dedicated, devoted and brave woman she was. She saved so many lives risking her own safety. Even though some of the characters were fictional, you wouldn’t know it. This is a well-researched novel. One more great WWII book based upon a real-live person. I highly recommend. And the epilogue, great, I love when the author gives you the “rest of the story”. 
I want to thank Kensington Books and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book for my honest unbiased opinion. This is a 5-star review. Highly recommend.
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Irena's War
Irena's War is a very gripping novel of the real-life Polish hero of the Holocaust, Irena Sendler. Though she was not Jewish herself, she repeatedly put her life in peril to help save Jews. Plans were set to rescue 200 orphans from the Warsaw Ghetto run by Janusz Korczak, but the Nazis beat them by a day by deporting the entire orphanage including Korczak. She rescued at least 2500 children, helping them escape from the Warsaw Ghetto. She was later captured, imprisoned for months, and brutally tortured by the Gestapo. Her story was hidden for many years for her own safety from the Soviet government, until high school students researched her story and published her heroism.
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Based on a true story, this is about a woman who, despite terrible odds, supplies starving people in the Warsaw Jewish ghetto with food and rescues 2,500 children during WWII.

Gripping, astonishing and heartbreaking, this very believable historical fiction takes the reader through the despair of war mostly from the standpoint of Irena. She is desperate to feed displaced Polish Jews but her food supply network is halted. She goes to great lengths to continue aid.

Klaus, with the gestapo, seeks her out and kidnaps her to offer her the job of running soup kitchens throughout the city, to make it appear as though things aren't as bad as reality. Irena uses this advantageously though it meant working for the Germans. Meanwhile, under frightening and deplorable conditions, she forges documents and sneaks out children at every opportunity, under the noses of the gestapo.

Irena, a true heroine, is absolutely remarkable. Her tireless actions saved people. It makes me wonder about those lives she saved...perhaps some of the children are living today. Their gratitude must have been unspeakable, even though they faced unknown futures.

I've read many WWII books focused on rescues and aid but this is different...we are shown Irena's daily life and learn about her relationships. It's very personal. We are shown the stark realities of war but at times also hope in the daring rescues which were nothing short of miraculous.

Not an easy or enjoyable book, of course, but one anyone with even a glimmer of interest in WWII in Poland should read. I also recommend it to those who simply wish to learn more. It's a good starting point.

The author's additional notes at the end were fascinating and personalized the book even further.

My sincere thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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She was remarkable, she was real and she saved 2500 Jewish children.  How can you not be in awe of a "heroine" who put her life on the line to save others, especially children.  Yes, there were others who certainly came to the aid of those who were being hunted down by the Nazis, but this story of Irena Sendler will remain with me for a long time.  Were it not for her brave and strong personality, this would be a different story, or not a story at all.  The author's fictional description of the SS officer was right on target, it was absolutely scary.  While it has been over 75 years since the war ended, we cannot and should not forget those who risked their lives for the persecuted.  Kudos to James Shipman for bringing Irena Sendler to light so we may honor her memory.  As this weekend is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah ending with Yom Kippur, there are many families of those she helped to survive that must be grateful for her life.  My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I thought I had the best book of this year until I read Irena's War. This book I could not put down it just held my interest and have told so many friends. I cannot wait to read more by this author.
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Irena is a Polish woman who works at an office that collects and delivers food to the poor. Later she finds herself smuggling food for the Polish people and Jewish people. 
Before you think that this book is about just another heroine, think again. This story is a true story about a real woman who placed her life on the line for many people. 
We know of at least 2500 children that she was able to help rescue. That's about twice as many Jewish persons that were rescued as Shilndler.
This is one of the most captivating books I have read about a real human that tells all the good and bad .yes, she got upset at her mother. She yelled at her boyfriend, she lied and did other things to get what she needed. All of that makes her more of a heroine than the sometimes perfect people in fictional books.
A truly remarkable and extraordinary woman.
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Irena’s War by James D. Shipman is an excellent WWII historical fiction novel that is actually based on the heroics of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who refused to give up and give in to the Germans that invaded and murdered her fellow Polish citizens after the occupation of Warsaw and Poland. Irena chose to work undercover with the Polish resistance to help bring food and supplies to starving citizens and eventually help rescue and smuggle approximately 2500 Jewish children to safety instead of a certain death. The fascinating aspect is that she did all of this while under the guise of working her “usual job” in social services. 

This book was unique, fascinating, suspenseful, and awe-inspiring. Irena may have been an imperfect, flawed, and challenging woman, but she was strong, intelligent, fiery, brave, and wonderful in the way that she selflessly risked all to save and care for others. I loved learning more about her in the author’s afterward that described which characters in the book were real, and which were created in a way to aid to the storyline. 

I did enjoy how alternating points of view between Irene and an SS officer was presented. While he did not actually exist, the author did a great job creating an authenticity that made this book so harrowing and sometimes sinister. Being able to be placed into the mind of someone so evil, yet human, was striking and unforgettable.

This book will stick with me long after, as it really brings home another story of one of the many wonderful souls that risked it all to help others and to help right the wrongs during these atrocities. 

5/5 stars

Thank you NetGalley and Kensington for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication.
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