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January 05 , 2009

In Kindling Flame: the Story of Hannah Senesh 1921-1944


Winner of the National Jewish Book Award when it was first published in 1985, In Kindling Flame tells the impassioned story of Hannah Senesh, a young woman who became an icon of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust and an enduring symbol of courage and love. Born in 1921 to an accomplished family in Budapest, she dreamed of becoming a writer. The poems and diaries she left behind suggest that she might well have succeeded. But she was growing up in Hungary on the eve of World War II, and she was Jewish. At the age of 17, Hannah, responding to the rising menace of Nazism, joined the Zionist movement. The next year, 1939, she embarked alone for Palestine, and after a course of study at an agricultural school, became a founding member of a kibbutz on the Mediterranean Sea. As the news from Europe grew worse and worse, however, Hannah found herself unable to stay. She joined a group of volunteers whom the British agreed to train as parachutists. They were to be dropped into the mountains of Yugoslavia to help downed Allied airmen and also, if it was possible, to find and rescue Jews. The mission cost Hannah her life: she was executed by a firing squad in Budapest in 1944.
This biography is a moving portrait of a gifted, courageous young woman in a terrible time. It is also a gripping history of the Holocaust, Jewish resistance, and the effort to create a safe haven for the Jews of Europe in Palestine.

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“Hannah's story goes hand in hand with that of all European Jews, and Ms. Atkinson's [now Goldenberg] account of their fates is as skilful as her re-creation of Hannah’s life. She distils complicated political issues without oversimplifying, and balances what can be the impersonal magnitude of the Holocaust with well-chosen eyewitness accounts.”
Heydon White, New York Times

“Linda Atkinson [now Linda Goldenberg] recounts the life of Hannah Senesh with such extraordinary skill and intensity that this biography about a courageous young woman can be considered among the best pieces of young adult literature on Jewish suffering and heroism in WW II.”
Boston Sunday Globe

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