“Staggering in its honesty . . . a taut and compulsively readable narrative that makes fresh again horrors that have become familiar . . . Frister’s courage to plumb the ambiguity of his actions leaves the reader awestruck.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The Price of a Life
978-0-8021-3762-3 • $14.00 • Paperback • Feb. 2001
Uncommonly frank and unsparing, The Cap is an unconventional Holocaust memoir that defies all moral judgement and ventures into the darkest terrain imaginable, that of a soul blackened by the unforgiving cruelty of its surroundings. Roman Frister’s memoir of his life before, during, and after his imprisonment in the Nazi concentration camps sparked enormous controversy upon its publication in Israel and went on to become an international best-seller. With bone-chilling candor, Frister illustrates how the impulse to live unhinges all our comfortable notions of morality, blurring the boundary between victim and oppressor, dissociating heroism from survival, and leaving absolutely no room for martyrdom.
By the time Roman Frister was sixteen years old, he had watched an enraged S.S. officer crush his mother’s skull and had felt her body grow cold beneath him. He had waited with unmasked eagerness for his father to expire in a camp infirmary, knowing there was half a loaf of bread hidden beneath the dying man’s lice-infested cot. When confronted with certain death, he had knowingly placed another inmate in harm’s way in the interest of sparing his own life, and never looked back. The Cap is that rare and unadorned self-portrait of a man not content to look at himself in only a flattering light, a man willing to bring all his scars into full view. And reflected in stark relief are the indelible wounds of all twentieth century European Jews.