Sunday, December 14, 2014

"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how"

BuzzFeed's book listicles: a neverending source of inspiration.

This time I picked Man's Search For Meaning (1946) by Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl from the viral site's 21 Books That Will Teach You Something Important list.

For what it's worth, the list also contains Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, which I enjoyed tremendously and have been wanting to reread for a while now.  

According to the Library Of Congress and a survey by the Book-of-the-Month Club, Man's Search For Meaning is one of the "ten most influential books in the United States."

Oh, and how could I possibly even begin to overlook this accompanying description:

'Nuff said.

The skinny

Between 1942 and 1945, Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl was in four Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz, where he refused to perish under the dehumanizing hardship. By means of his own experiences and the experiences of others, he discusses how finding meaning for yourself is the only way to deal with suffering. The first part of the book offers a peak into the horrors of camp life, with Frankl explaining the several stages laborers go through, while the second part introduces Frankl's ideas of meaning and his grand theory called logotherapy.

The review

I have always been fascinated by tales of Nazi concentration camps. The Holocaust is one of the ugliest chapters in human civilization, and it interests me to no end to read and watch the stories of survivors, who where pushed beyond any imaginable limit. It was this particular scene in Band of Brothers that sparked my interestedness at age 12. No book or documentary has been safe for me since then.

Still, I dare say that Viktor Frankl's testimony is by far one of the best. In his memoir, he examines the psyche of victim and victimizers, and concludes that, even though his body was being held captive, he was still free to control his mind and his attitude. Powerful stuff!

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