Saturday, August 15, 2015

Book Review: The Prisoners of Breendonk

THE PRISONERS OF BREENDONK by James M. Deem tells the compelling, personal stories associated with a lesser-known concentration camp during World War II.
Located in Belgium, the internment camp held both Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners who were political dissidents or accused of resistance activities. Occupied from 1940 through 1944, it was also used as a transit camp for Jews on their way to death camps in Germany and Poland. The prisoners were subjected to forced labor and lived under the constant threat of starvation, interrogation, and torture.
Following the chronology of World War II, Deem’s work of nonfiction provides a comprehensive examination of the camp and it’s inhabitants. Told through short narratives that weave in background information and personal histories, Deem brings the poor, over-crowded conditions to life for young adult readers.
Designed for young adults, this well-researched work contains an afterward and information source sections in addition to the body of text. Of particular note are the many high-quality illustrations including maps, signs, photographs, and drawings. The author also describes why so many photos and sketches are available from this camp.
Librarians will find this outstanding work of nonfiction to be an excellent addition to the history section of the library. Its focus on this brutal, but lesser-known camp will be particularly appealing for YA researchers already familiar with Nazi-German concentration camps.
Visit the National Memorial Fort Breendonk website at
Read the Wikipedia article at
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on August 4, 2015. ARC paper and NetGalley.

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