The Ravine

By Wendy Lower,

Book cover of The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed

Book description

Winner, 2022 National Jewish Book Award

Shortlist, 2022 Wingate Literary Prize

A single photograph—an exceptionally rare “action shot” documenting the horrific final moment of the murder of a family—drives a riveting process of discovery for a gifted Holocaust scholar

In 2009, the acclaimed author of Hitler’s Furies was shown a…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Ravine as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Historian Wendy Lower focuses on a single photograph taken in October 1941 that shows a group of soldiers shooting a woman who clutches the hand of a little boy just before they fall into a mass grave in Miropol, Ukraine.

This is a gripping and impeccably researched account of the killers, the victims, and the photographer who took the haunting image. Lower combs through public records and archives, and relies on interviews with local residents to reconstruct mass atrocities. Lower’s descriptions of her dogged determination to reconstruct the scene of the crime reads like a thriller.

In an attempt to name the people in a single photograph, Lower demonstrates how intimate and participatory the Nazi killing process was in the Soviet Union. The photo itself is disturbing, and Lower’s investigation into its origins shows how much more chilling the story behind it actually was. Written in riveting prose, Lower leads her readers through her own discovery process, demystifying academic research. 

From Jeffrey's list on the Holocaust in Ukraine.

This book, just published in February 2021, makes my list. Readers may think – not again, another Holocaust history.  But this is far more than that. In Wendy Lower’s gifted hands, we learn of how she spent nearly a decade “reading” one single, horrific image—the murder of a woman and her family. Lower not only uncovers the murderers and the photographer, but this slim, riveting tale morphs into memoir as she narrates how, in archives, cities, and villages, across three continents, she discovered what she needed to know to reconstruct the events of that single terrible moment.

From Pamela's list on memoirs through the voices of women.

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