The Avengers by Rich Cohen
A Jewish War Story

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In 1944, a band of Jewish guerrillas emerged from the Baltic forest to join the Russian army in its attack on Vilna, the capital of Lithuania. The band, called the Avengers, was led by Abba Kovner, a charismatic young poet. In the ghetto, Abba had built bombs, sneaking out through the city's sewer tunnels to sabotage German outposts. Abba's chief lieutenants were two teenage girls, Vitka Kempner and Ruzka Korczak. At seventeen, Vitka and Ruzka were perhaps the most daring partisans in the East, the first to blow up a Nazi train in occupied Europe. Each night, the girls shared a bed with Abba, raising gossip in the ghetto. But what they found was more than temporary solace. It was a great love affair. After the liquidation of the ghetto, the Avengers escaped through the city's sewage tunnels to the forest, where they lived for more than a year in a dugout beside a swamp, fighting alongside other partisan groups, and ultimately bombing the city they loved, destroying Vilna's waterworks and its powerplant in order to pave the way for its liberation.

Leaving a devastated Poland behind them, they set off for the cities of Europe: Vitka and Abba to the West, where they would be instrumental in orchestrating the massive Jewish exodus to the biblical homeland, and Ruzka to Palestine, where she would be literally the first person to bring a first hand account of the Holocaust to Jewish leaders. It was in these last terrifying days--with travel in Europe still unsafe for Jews and the extent of the Holocaust still not widely known--that the Avengers hatched their plan for revenge. Before it was over, the group would have smuggled enough poison into Nuremberg to kill ten thousand Nazis. The Avengers is the story of what happened to these rebels in the ghetto and in the forest, and how, fighting for the State of Israel, they moved beyond the violence of the Holocaust and made new lives.

From Rich Cohen, one of the preeminent journalists of his generation and author of the highly praised Tough Jews, a powerful exploration of vindication and revenge, of dignity and rebellion, painstakingly recreated through his exclusive access to the Avengers themselves. Written with insight, sensitivity, and the moral force of one of the last great struggles of the Second World War, here is an unforgettable story for our time.

About Rich Cohen

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Rich Cohen is a New York Times bestselling author as well as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone. He has written seven books, including Tough Jews, Israel Is Real, and the widely acclaimed memoir Sweet and Low. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, and Best American Essays. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, three sons, and dog.
Published October 2, 2013 by Vintage. 274 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Cohen (Tough Jews, 1998) came across Kovner and other survivors in Israel and learned their story.

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The Guardian

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The Avengers Rich Cohen 262pp, Cape, £17.99 Buy it at a discount at BOL The 1943 FPO proclamation calling for revolt in Vilna Further information on the Vilna ghetto Biography: Abba Kovner The attempt to do justice to the Holocaust in print is one of the most relentless endeavours in post...

Feb 24 2001 | Read Full Review of The Avengers: A Jewish War Story

Publishers Weekly

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As Cohen notes, these ""were the kind of people who inspired Joseph Goebbels to write in his diary, `One sees what the Jews can do when they are armed.'"" An ardent Zionist, Ruzka left her home in Poland in 1939, as German troops were occupying the country, and made her way to Vilna, Lithuania, w...

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The Seattle Times

Add in solid receipts for solo turns of "Avengers" co-stars Chris Hemsworth in "Thor" and Chris Evans in "Captain America: The First Avenger" - plus the lure of a new incarnation of the Incredible Hulk by Mark Ruffalo in "Avengers" - and summer's superhero meter is off the charts.

Apr 17 2012 | Read Full Review of The Avengers: A Jewish War Story

Large Print Reviews

The Avengers is a unique book about an often overlooked aspect of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust.

May 28 2008 | Read Full Review of The Avengers: A Jewish War Story

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