With r3boot lying in bed for a couple of days, I’ve had plenty of time on my hands for some proper reading and finished book #2 of this year: Mila 18 by Leon Uris.
This book took me by surprise. It’s written in 1961, over 50 years ago but it never felt that way once. Uris’ writing is very clean, very real, like it *did* happen exactly the way it’s written. And maybe it did, because both the Warsaw ghetto and it’s destruction really happened as did the uprising by the Jewish resistance.
The story of Mila 18 starts in 1939, Warsaw Poland, before the war. A diary fragment of one of the main characters you soon get to know very well. Followed by an American-Italian journalist, who’s madly in love with a Jewish woman who is married to a non-practicing Jew. His colleague, a German. Her brother, a Zionist in love with a catholic Polish girl. The characters build in this story are very strong. Uris took a lot of time describing them/their emotions/way of thinking so you will understand all of them, when they make the choices they will make later in the book.
For quite some time, I kept wondering why the book was called Mila 18. But when you finally get to the part where it gets introduced, you immediately know that it indeed was the right title for the book. And that you now finally got to the real story behind it all. Don’t get me wrong, every word in this book counts. And it also didn’t feel like a very long dreaded build-up, but it is the part of the book where things come together (although you didn’t know that it wasn’t together yet).
Written only 15 years after the second world war ended, over 50 years ago, this book still is relevant, brilliant and unforgettable. If you wonder how it’s like to live in the Warsaw ghetto, from the normal daily life, till the Germans take over and till they cannot take it anymore and decide to fight back (even if that meant they have to fight a tank with their bare hands) this is definitely a must-read.