Survivor from an Unknown War - Stephen L. Crane
It took me longer to read this book than I thought it would but only because it really gave a me a lot to think about, and I didn't want to rush it. I've put off doing the review till I had time to write one that would do it justice, which I still may not accomplish, but I'll give it my best shot:

First off, I should've read this book with a highlighter because as it is, I have dog-eared this thing almost to death. So much in this biography resonated with me. For instance, Isakjan Narzikul and some of the other Muslim Uzbeks helped several Jews escape death in the concentration camps by teaching them to recite certain Muslim prayers so that they could pass as Muslims and live. I know there are other stories of Muslims who helped Jews during the Holocaust, but this is only second time I can recall reading about them. In this instance, the help seemed to stem from the fact that the Muslim Uzbeks were also suffering under government oppression and torment, only from Communist Russia whereas the Jews were persecuted by Nazi Germany.

Even though Isakjan never seemed to be fully sympathetic to Jewish suffering (possibly because his own people were suffering so much, and he had his own problems), he did, at least, what he could do to help those he could help, and that's more than can be said for many other people at the time.

Narzikul undergoes great changes throughout the course of his lifetime: from buying the communist lie to believing that Hitler, of all people, would be his motherland's liberator, to a man who learned to think for himself and to become a productive member of a capitalist society. I felt great pains for his disillusionment with government, and I respect the fact that he was willing to see the lies for what they were and to finally learn to stop depending on the government, any government, to take care of him and his family.

He faced and survived many dangerous and life threatening situations along the way, but he never became bitter as a result of what he suffered, and I think the author did an outstanding job of communicating Narzikul's ability to reason, adapt, and overcome. I also got a good sense of both the external and internal conflicts Isakjan Narikul struggled with as he learned to think independently and to make his own judgements.

I found the book to be very interesting, and Narzikul's lifestory was anything but dull. I'm glad Stephen Crane wrote this book so that other people could benefit Narzikul's experiences and wisdom.