Member Review

Cover Image: The Ravine

The Ravine

Pub Date:

Review by

Erin K, Reviewer

My Recommendation

Books about the Holocaust often tend to be about the same subject matter so I was interested with the premise of this nonfiction book. Historian Wendy Lower discovered a photograph during her research of a family that is in the midst of being murdered by Nazis in Ukraine in 1941. There is very little photographic evidence of Nazis actually committing their crimes - just a lot of proof after the horrible deeds had been done. Lower decided to dig into the massacre that had taken place on the same day as the photo (where victims were disposed of in a ravine) and tried to discover who the family might have been.

This book was painstakingly researched, which was both an asset and a detriment to the story at times. It was obvious how many long hours were spent trying to unravel the mystery of the photograph (especially since there are few records from the time and even fewer survivors now). This attention to detail and the recounting of the facts showed how thoughtful Lower was about her research. However, the data also made the book feel a little stiff and dry at times. I understand the tendency for writers to do this when talking about the Holocaust - it can be incredibly painful to recount the many horrors committed by the Nazis, so some distance is required to write about it in a subjective way. But the book did feel a little too much like reading a textbook at times.

Overall, I appreciated that the book was on the shorter side. It would have been harder to take in the information without feeling extremely drained otherwise. I did feel like this was a unique lens in which to look at the murders of millions of Jews, and Lower's passion for the project did ring true throughout the entire thing. I would probably only recommend this to people who are really interested in history books or in Holocaust research.

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