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Friday, September 30, 2016

Celebrating a giant for peace and justice

“I write to understand as much as to be understood.” – Elie Wiesel

Born on this day in 1928, Wiesel was not only a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate but also the author of 57 books, written mostly in French and English.  His powerful and wrenching book Night was based on his experiences as a prisoner in the infamous Nazi death camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.  He died this past July at age 87.
Along with writing, he was a professor of humanities                        
 at Boston University, which created the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies in his honor. He was involved with Jewish causes, and helped establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.   The Norwegian Nobel Committee described Wiesel as "one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world."

Known as a writer with an uncanny knack of involving the reader almost from the outset of each of his books, he noted, “There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don't see them.”  In other words, you just “know” from where you start reading what has already transpired because of the effectiveness of what he has written.

Wiesel won a remarkable 30 international awards and honors, including the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the John Jay Medal for Justice.  His memoirs are terrific examples for those seeking to write these types of works.  His advice:  “With memoir, you must be honest. You must be truthful.  Not to transmit an experience is to betray it.”

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