1930s Warsaw was a thoroughly cosmopolitan, even swinging city. Larger than Chicago, it was host to a rich Jewish cultural life. It seemed inconceivable that all this was about to be swept away, but then came the dark events of September 1939. As the Nazi invasion of Poland began, a ragtag army calling itself the Jewish Resistance Force fell into shape around the handsome, quick-witted Isaac Zuckerman.
Impossibly daring, the JRF held out until the end of the war, by which time fewer than 100 of its members survived. ISAAC'S ARMY is the thrilling tale of the fortunes of the JRF's main participants, told in vivid prose that brilliantly creates an atmosphere febrile with danger, heroism and ingenuity - like Babel's Odessa Tales crossed with the Great Escape.
In amongst the tragedy, ISAAC'S ARMY manages to be touching, entertaining, and even very funny, and ultimately a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit.
Matthew Brzezinski is an author and journalist. He worked for the NYT in Warsaw in the early 1990s, and was Moscow correspondent for the WSJ. He is the author of CASINO MOSCOW (2002) and FORTRESS AMERICA (2004).