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December 27, 2019

999 by Heather Dune Macadam ~ a Review

by Donna Huber


I read a lot of WWII set fiction so when I saw a nonfiction book was the first Jewish transport to Auschwitz at Netgalley I had to request.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.


December 2019; Citadel; 978-0806539362
audio, ebook, print (480 pages); history
I have read WWII novels since I was a young adult. Then many of the novels romanticized the era and focused on the soldiers with a few about Jews. When I grew tired of romance novels, I also stopped reading a lot of WWII novels. In recent years though more of the unknown stories of WWII have come to light and are the focus of the novels. I have really enjoyed these stories, especially when the authors provide notes on the historical accuracy of the novel.

So I was really excited to see a nonfiction book about an aspect of WWII that I had not heard of before. I was a little worried that it would be a dry, textbook type read. I'm thrilled to tell you that it was not like that at all. Actually, the tone was very conversational - more what you would expect from a memoir. I actually read this in two days. Granted, I spent the majority of the day reading it. I just couldn't stay away from the story Macadam weaved from interviews and archive materials.

999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport is a truly captivating read.

The opening chapters, where Macadam describes village life in a town in Slovakia, read like a newsreel from WWII. I actually heard the announcer in my head as images flashed in my mind. That's how descriptive the writing is.

It has been more than 75 years and not all of the historical records have survived. Though some survivors are still alive, age and the traumatic nature of the events make personal recollections difficult. So there is a bit of speculation, but it is evident that it is speculation in the text.

The story doesn't end with liberation which I appreciate. I always wonder what life was like for the survivors, some who spent 3 years in a concentration camp. As Macadam followed the lives of several of the girls from that first transport, the reader gets to see a variety of what life looked like after. One of the things I had never thought about was how others viewed the survivors. I always assumed that family and friends rejoiced that the person survived a death camp. And they did, but they also were suspicious. What did they do to survive? What moral compromise did they have to make?

I've always been glad that the personal stories of WWII veterans and Holocaust survivors have been preserved. However, I've never thought about the quagmire that all the testimonies could create. The task Macadam undertook was monumental. She had to piece together individual stories like one would piece together a jigsaw puzzle, except she didn't have the benefit of the final picture on the cover of the box. Not to have gotten lost among all the information and being able to put that information into a form that is coherent and interesting to others is a feat well accomplished by the author.

If you read WWII fiction, I highly recommend reading this book to give you a new perspective on the time period. If you love history but want something that doesn't read like a textbook, then I highly recommend reading this book. If you want to understand the present by looking at the past, I highly recommend reading this book. Are you seeing a pattern? I highly recommend reading this book!

Buy 999 at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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