Night by Elie Wiesel

General Description (from
In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night, a scholarly, pious teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life’s essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel’s lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.

Why the President Should Read This Book
If it is true that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it, then a thorough education of the Holocaust should be high up on the reading list of our world leaders. Such books as Night serve to remind us what evil humans are capable of, even humans who are well-educated and by all appearances far from being what we would refer to as “savages”. How was it that a country rich with culture and refinement was able to produce a well-organized operation that murdered millions of men, women, and children? That threw live infants in the air to be shot by soldiers as a form of entertainment and target practice. That dumped children by the truckloads into trenches full of fire to be burned alive. Night does not answer these questions, but it does answer, to a certain extent, how it is that people allowed themselves and their families to be subjected to such inhumanity, despite warnings of the cruelty that awaited them.

While this book does not explain how world leaders might avoid the steps that lead to such evil, it certainly lends motivation to finding out what those steps are and avoiding them with all diligence.

Personal Notes
It was this book that inspired me to create the category it sits in on this website. I suppose it could have been filed under “race”, “biographies”, “human nature”, “war”, or “world history”, but none of those seemed adequate. The only word I could think of when I thought about this book was “evil”. And if our President is to lead us away from evil, he must certainly know what it looks like, lest he draw too close without being aware, and set the stage for a true villain.