REVIEWS

 

This outstanding riveting book is one of the great epic stories that encompasses modern history and warfare. The Russian Front of World War II has been considered by many to be the most savage military campaign in history. Aaron Herskowitz’s journey during this war becomes the most radical “turn-around” of fortunes I have ever encountered. This is the true story of a Czechoslovakian Jewish soldier, who escapes from brutal slavery under the Nazis and their fascist Hungarian allies to join the Russian Army. He then becomes a man of great power to deal out justice to those who had so brutally tortured him and his comrades as well as having killed countless innocent civilians just because they were Jewish. Aaron interrogates the prisoners he captures and exacts valuable military intelligence from them, helping the Soviet army oust the Axis invaders from Russia. He punishes those who committed atrocities or crimes against humanity. Aaron’s son Howard Herskowitz, the author, has most stunningly told this incredible story, in which Aaron manages to overcome the odds, it seems, with nine lives. I have fact-checked the military and historical aspects of the story and they are true and correct. The book is so well-written and engrossing that I couldn’t put it down. I recommend it highly, and I consider this book a must read. 

— General Albin Irzyk, U.S. Army ret., historian and award-winning author of “He Rode Up Front For Patton,”  among several other books. He was wounded twice and received the nation’s second highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross, for extraordinary heroism.

This gem of a historical saga describes the epic heroic ordeal of Aaron Herskowitz, a young Jewish Czechoslovakian soldier who, caught up in the treacherously deadly currents of World War II, somehow survives the horrendous conditions of slave labor and torture inflicted upon him by the Nazis and their fascist Hungarian allies, as they dragoon their Jewish slaves to serve them on the Russian Front. With his son, Howard Herskowitz’s able assistance as the author of this magnificent work, this book stands as a monument…how this one remarkable man succeeded by luck, courage, and ingenious imagination, in surviving, escaping, and triumphing over the horrific ordeals inflicted upon him, and then getting his just revenge against his erstwhile persecutors…Social history at its best, this outstanding book is a gripping page-turning thriller and a must-read. My post-military career has focused on the studies of the Russian front of World War II, which is where the action of this story takes place. I have verified that the historical events depicted in this book are true and accurate. I am privileged to serve as the official historian for this masterful work. My complete Historian’s Commentary as well as the maps I have prepared can all be found in the book.

–Colonel David M. Glantz, US Army (ret.) Historian, award-winning author and world renowned expert on the German v. Russian campaign during World War II. 

 

Just when we think we have read everything that can be said about that horrific war tragedy regarding World War II and the Holocaust, along comes a book like Aaron’s Revenge…Aaron Herskowitz will surprise you, perhaps shock you…Aaron’s Revenge is a rough book to read, and was meant to be so. Yet it is so engrossing that I couldn’t put it down. I finished reading it in one day. It offers no excuses, makes no apologies and seeks no moral high ground. It simply asks the question, “What would you have done in his place?” Aaron’s Revenge is not only a major literary achievement, as it reads like a novel, far beyond the categories of biography or memoir; It is written so visually that it also appears to be destined to be a powerful motion picture.

–Jack Shakely, Internet Review of Books.

Dear Mr. Herskowitz, when I read your book, I was overwhelmed with a myriad of tumultuous emotions. I could not put it down until I had finished every last word of it, soaking in the spellbinding story of your father’s journeys and the powerful history of our people only 80 years ago. Regarding your live presentation, I should have known from your captivating book how absolutely amazing your talk was going to be. The energy in the room was comforting, as people mingled and spoke in hushed voices. You could feel the excitement and anticipation grow. We all took our seats and the performance began. I say ‘performance’ because indeed that is what it was. You treated us to a most fabulous soliloquy of excerpts of your father’s intolerable years during the Holocaust. You interspersed your talks with live footage of the Hero himself, speaking of the atrocities, moral dilemmas and feelings about his trials and tribulations. We felt his pain as he choked back tears and shared his memories of those five horrendous years he spent under  the Nazis and Hungarians. Howard, you passionately and eloquently shared with the audience just enough to wet their palate, leaving them wanting more, the more of course, which is in the book! A must read. There were tears, there was laughter. I could not help but feel a deep spiritual bond, a connection and passion with everyone in the room! Howard, you surpassed my expectations! I cannot thank you enough for your courage and hard work in allowing the world to hear the atrocities of the Holocaust and for sharing such a personal and riveting story with the world. May the memory of your parents be honored and the memory of the 6 million who perished never be forgotten. Thank you once again for allowing us a powerful glimpse into Aaron Herskowitz’s life. May G-d help you and guide you in your future endeavors!

— Rabbi Schneur Kaplan, Downtown Jewish Center Chabad.

I have now read Howard Herskowitz’s book  with much interest. Aaron Herskowitz was a remarkable man and the story is brilliantly written. Aaron’s Revenge combines an incredible human story challenged by the background of perhaps the darkest time in history. There are virtually no other stories of Jewish individuals who attained such unlimited power against their Nazi persecutors while the war was still raging; this makes Aaron’s Revenge most unique. I believe that this book will achieve critical and commercial success as both a book and a blockbuster movie. The subject is timeless, so this story will always be relevant.

— Dr. Michael Berenbaum- Internationally acclaimed best-selling historian, book reviewer, author, TV/Film producer.

Howard Herskowitz’s tale of his father’s experiences during the Second World War is at once terrifying and exhilarating. The frightening parts, of course, remind us of the inhumanity and hideous atrocities set upon innocent people, such as Aaron Herskowitz; while the thrilling parts inspire and amaze us at the range of his courage. Aaron Herskowitz was not a boastful man, he was not one to fill his son with stories of his incredible exploits. Rather it was Howard Herskowitz’s persistent questions that eventually triggered the unfolding tales of his father’s daring acts. The son has done his father proud by relaying the unspeakable paths he had to take, and creating such a powerful and enthralling read.
We had the good fortune to have Howard Herskowitz himself present this story to our Sunday Salon – His presentation was so professional, so well done, that everyone was on the edge of their seats. Everyone loved it! Howard accompanied his talk with a powerpoint presentation that clearly outlines the geographic and historical periods. I, and all our attendees highly recommend having Howard Herskowitz come to your venue and allow him to give you a wonderfully educational exhibit as well as a stirring lesson.

— Marsha Balaban, Author and Community Coordinator

Aaron’s Revenge is a powerful story and one that was hard to imagine. This book was one that gripped me throughout the reading. You can feel Aaron’s struggle through the story as he figures out what Hitler has planned and he attempts, unsuccessfully to get people to fight back. The story is an amazing one and you feel for Aaron and the people around him. It was incredible to me how cruel the Nazis and their Hungarian cohorts were, and I was amazed at how much cruelty one person could endure. Then, just when you think you understand the story, it changes. You find out that after Aaron escapes from his persecutors to join the Russian Army, he becomes a bounty hunter for the Russians, capturing and interrogating hundreds of Nazi officers and spies, obtaining valuable military intelligence that he shares with his Russian superiors. Aaron even reflects that though he was successful, and was given the highest authority by the Russians to punish these captives to any extreme he wishes, he soon begins to question his own humanity in his quest for revenge. This story is so compelling, and you are simply drawn in to then draw judgment on Aaron. I feel that this true story will become a critical favorite and very popular commercially.

— Divas Book Reviews 

 

A Gripping Tale: Where Was God During the War? “Aaron’s Revenge” takes us on a true life journey experienced by Aaron Herskowitz – a 5’2″ Jewish farmer who escaped from being a Nazi slave and ended up being ruler of a conquered Nazi town. Howard Herskowitz, the son of Aaron and author of the book, shared that for many years, his dad struggled with the very same question many of our military service members struggle with today – “Where is God?” in all the destruction. See, Howard’s dad was part of the Czech Army in 1936 and then in 1939, Hitler gave Aaron’s little town over to the Hungarians, fascist allies of the Germans. Aaron went from being a soldier to a slave under the rabidly anti-Semitic Hungarians. Unlike the Nazis, who hunted and killed Jews for sport, the Hungarians tortured the Jews and kept them alive to do all their hard labor. Aaron would have none of it. Aaron had two options: remain a slave or fight. And fight he did. When the Germans and Hungarians invaded Russia, Aaron heroically changed the outcome of a major battle toward the Russians’ favor, hard to imagine, as an Axis slave. Aaron then escaped to the Russians who valued his ability to speak eight different languages and subsequently made him the ruler of a conquered Nazi town: and in the first few weeks of doing so, Aaron enacted extreme retribution against many of those Nazis and Hungarians he captured, especially those who were revealed to have committed atrocities. But as Howard explained, it didn’t take Aaron long to figure out that his actions, should he not change them, would make him no different than his Nazi tormentors. So he changed. Howard tackles some pretty tough questions in this recount of his dad’s life – questions like, “How many Nazis did you kill?” and “Why didn’t more Jews fight back?” – but the most compelling for me was his answer to “Where was God?” in all the killing of innocent people. His answer is one that I am sure resonates with many of us. Aaron answers this question and many more in Aaron’s Revenge. This book is the perfect gift for you history buffs who want to share a unique “behind the scenes” retelling of one of the most devastating wars in history.

— Michael Schindler of The Military Wire Reviews.

An fascinating perspective of an individual’s survival and his eventual revenge, at a terrible time in history. Exceptionally well told. Easy to follow but hard to read at times. It’s so foreign to our reality, that it’s like reading science fiction of an alternate universe. But it’s not. It’s Europe between 1938 and ’45.

— Herbert H. Smith, Author.

 

The story of Aaron Herskowitz is probably the most amazing journey I’ve ever read. From his scrapes with death as a slave laborer under the Nazis, to his escape from the Russian secret police, I couldn’t put the book down, and I finished reading it in a day and a half.

I have taught World History and American History at university and high school levels. I’m convinced this book would engage the students in a much deeper, more meaningful way than the current routine of key words and boring textbooks. The adventure is real and the old axiom of “truth is stranger than fiction” certainly applies here. The author does a great job of incorporating maps and historical facts, so it would be perfect for a history class, as well as educating the general public about a tragic period in world history .

This book is a must-read.

— David Freer, History Professor.

Until I read this book I did not know what happened to my father who disappeared in the Ukraine in 1942 while he was a Jewish slave laborer under the Nazi and Hungarian armies. Not only did I get welcome information, but this book gives us a riveting account of events that dwelt into material previously overlooked by historians. I wish someone would make this into a movie for a larger audience to witness.

— Judy Weinstein, Educator.

Dear Mr. Herskowitz, before Passover this year, you gave Rabbi Kaplan a copy of your book. I (appropriately) began reading it over Passover and finished it in two days! Even amidst the chaos and hustle and bustle of two community Seders with over 150 people, I stayed up late and woke early to finish the book!! I could not put it down! I am 35 years old and went to Yeshiva my whole life. I am an educator, teacher and lecturer. I have learnt and read extensively on the Holocaust but none of my teachings prepared me for the powerful story of your father!! I am writing to thank you for sharing his story! I am writing to tell you how amazing and informative your book was! I am writing because I am still “living” his story in my thoughts each day. I am writing because I was touched and moved!

— Devorah Kaplan, wife of Rabbi S. Kaplan, Downtown Jewish Center Chabad

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Finished it in three days.

— Don Silver – Chief Operations Officer Boardroom Communications.

With such cruelties constantly met upon you, vengeance can easily be the only thing on your mind. “Aaron’s Revenge” is a unique historical chronicle of the Holocaust and World War II, as an oppressed Jew finds himself with control over a conquered Nazi town after escaping from Nazi slavery and joining the Russians. The author brings a new take on the psyche of the Holocaust victim and why a few Jews did what they did. “Aaron’s Revenge” is a fascinating read that should prove hard to put down.

— Midwest Book Review.

Aaron’s Revenge is an excellent book. Author Howard Herskowitz has a real talent as a writer and a story-teller. There have been many other stories of individual courage against the Nazis, but Aaron’s Revenge stands out among the rest as perhaps the most unique. The protagonist of the story, Aaron Herskowitz, succeeded by a combination of luck, courage and imagination to escape from his Nazi tormentors and get his just revenge. The fact that he questions his own acts of revenge only makes him that much more human for whom we are compelled to feel sympathy. The story is so compelling that I expect that it will be successful critically and commercially, and I believe it also has real potential as a feature film.

— Elliott Goldenberg – Award-winning author, book reviewer.

This incredibly fast paced, action-packed and suspense-filled wartime thriller is the remarkable true story of a young Jewish man who survives years of terror under Nazi rule and enslavement by their fiendish Hungarian allies…to eventually escape and fight for the Russians, who appoint him as overlord of a captured Nazi town to deal out justice and revenge against his former tormentors…thus achieving the ultimate reversal of fortune…this book also divulges the astounding and shocking secrets revealing why six million Jews did not have to perish, and why there was virtually no armed Jewish resistance – secrets rarely spoken aloud until now, in this book. Aaron’s Revenge is a real page-turner, and a book I consider a must-read. I have been in this field for a long time, and I expect to see it on the best-seller lists.

— William Balam, Senior Beacon Book Reviews.

 

A deeply, convulsingly moving account that also goes far to explain why the Jews didn’t rise up against their oppressors during World War II.

— Jacqueline Price, Educator.

As Aaron discloses in the beginning of the book: “I am…beloved son, father, brother, husband; …patriotic son of Czechoslovakia, soldier, lover of God; slave laborer, hater of God, Russian partisan, persecutor, killer, survivor.” He shares his story honestly, without apology and with no effort to smooth over the jagged edges of the experience. The story is often raw and disturbing, true to the times and personalities it depicts… The book is exceptionally well-written and often gripping and provides a perspective rarely found in Holocaust memoirs. It is recommended for mature readers who have the perspective and background to engage the material and the ethical issues it raises.

— Jewish Book World.

Very compelling…an amazing well written story that keeps you riveted. A very different take on the Holocaust. I highly recommend this book!

— Linda Ellman, Author and Educator.

 

Our synagogue hosted author Howard Herskowitz during a recent Shabbat service. Howard wrote an outstanding spellbinding  book entitled “Aaron’s Revenge,” the true story of his father’s unusual means of survival during the Holocaust. The Shabbat service commemorated Krystallnacht and Howard’s accounting of his father’s strength and hope reinforced the message of “Never Again.” Howard is a captivating storyteller; animated, humorous and heartwarming. He is also a consummate professional; attentive to detail and punctual. Our congregation thoroughly enjoyed listening to him. We are a Reconstructionist Reformed congregation with a big tent that includes worshipers of the Christian faith, and these members found Howard’s presentation equally compelling. We wish Howard continued great success. B’Ahavat Olam.

Hazan Rav Daniel Marmorstein, Rabbi and Cantor

I don’t know if I could have written this story. Yet Aaron’s Revenge is so powerful and well written I could not stop reading. In the final years of Aaron Herskowitz’s life and after much persuasion, he finally allows his son to record the extraordinary events and secrets that are revealed in this heart-wrenching masterfully written book. The author recognizes the unique qualities of his father’s story and skillfully thrusts the reader directly into the action and the ensuing emotions. You feel Aaron’s struggle as he becomes aware of what Hitler has planned, and as he pleads unsuccessfully with the rabbis who preach non-resistance and watchful waiting for a Messiah to lead them into the Promised Land, scorning those who would fight back. Europe falls to the Germans, and England sets up roadblocks to Palestine (Israel). Thus dies any hope of his escape to America or Israel. When Hungary, now allied with the Nazis, seizes Aaron’s province, Aaron is forced into servitude under the Hungarian army, which uses Jews as slave laborers. His brash bravery and quick mind enable him to make the most of unusual circumstances in his Hungarian servitude and under the command of SS German tormentors who kill Jews for pleasure. During this harrowing period in Aaron’s life, his rage toward all he sees and the cruelty he endures becomes overwhelming, as he retaliates against the monstrosities he encounters. At this point in the story, one such incident is so grotesque, so evil; I found it difficult to continue reading. And then the unbelievable happens. After a battle lost by the Axis to the Russian Army, Aaron and a fellow Jew, the large, strong wily Ignatz Sax, escape from the Hungarians and Germans and become bounty hunters for the Russians. Aaron and his lieutenant Sax are so successful, they are asked first to set up a labor camp for Nazi and Hungarian prisoners and later Aaron becomes overlord of a captured enemy town while the war is still raging. The role reversal is difficult to handle and Aaron confesses to his son that for a while, he has lost his own humanity. Throughout the story, which is masterfully written in a novelistic style, the author uses Aaron’s own words to maximum emotional effect: “I weathered that storm in the only way I knew how, and I do not apologize for how I did so; I only ask that you consider my testimony before rendering judgment, and ask yourself, truly, what would you have done in my place?” Who better to tell Aaron’s story than a loving son who is also an accomplished writer?

— Mona Goldstein – Renowned author.

The book is indeed riveting and the story is full of compelling historical action. Not to be overlooked is the amazing love story between Aaron and Helen before the war, and how they each assumed the other didn’t survive the Holocaust, but then re-unite by chance in a small town, giving rise to thus: “Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction.” This book is a page-turner that transcends all borders, whether racial religious or otherwise.

— Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff – Acclaimed university educator of history and World War II, author and book reviewer.   

How much a man can do under insurmountable strife. Aaron Herskowitz was able to overcome all barriers in his amazing journey during the Second World War.

— Angel Vittorio, Author.

Dear Howard Herskowitz, feedback from participants of your book event were extremely positive and they were most appreciative of the dynamic presentation that you gave on the amazing compelling book that you authored — ” Aaron’s Revenge”. They were all touched by the moving story of your father’s survival during the darkest period in Jewish history – – The Holocaust, and they were absolutely riveted with his retribution against his former Nazi persecutors. We certainly look forward to having other opportunities to host you and hope that you have other opportunities to share this important story. Sincerely,

— Miriam Meislik — Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center.