A wonderful story rich with adventure and intrigue is articulately related in “My Father’s Blessing” and this alone is sufficient to fire and fuel the reader’s interest. This account of the Holocaust comes from a different perspective than one has learnt to expect on the subject – from a road less travelled and one which is even more rarely committed to paper. Ivan Singer emerges as an educated author and his book is an eloquent way to learn history’s lessons. It also achieves the validity of an authoritative historic source book complete with excellent photographs and a concise and objective text on the events of the era.
The underlying theme of the book is survival. The thread of belief which glues the chapters together is that survival is justice in itself. Survival is pictured as the ultimate victory. However, it is for the reader to decide whether there is complete satisfaction in survival itself or whether it merely has a palliative effect, much like a compromise does when in fact we really just want to win. Ivan Singer’s book portrays survival as a bare-to-the-bone concept which comes into force when the chips are down ,,,,,,and out. Unlike a Hollywood fantasy, Ivan Singer’s wartime tale of survival is devoid of glamour and full of a determination which goes to the core of human existence.
“My Father’s Blessing” is so much more than a wander down memory lane or a soulful tribute to those who suffered. What Ivan Singer experienced and remembered altered his thinking and there’s no going back. His witness of history is an eye-opener and a great leveler. His is a long, hard, unbleached look at the realities of the time.
Singer’s insightful analysis is evident throughout the book and renders it a meaningful time-capsule within which events are described as part of the overall human experience of history. It is almost impossible for subsequent generations to put themselves in the shoes which walked then, but this autobiography paints a picture which the reader can almost reach out and touch. As an author, Singer has achieved the passing on of the blessing with which he was endowed and in so doing, his mission from a personal perspective is accomplished. Ivan Singer had to write this book. Having written it, he has transcended his own experience and the reader is all the better for it as well. Singer has made a significant contribution and it’s not merely measurable in archival terms. If you have never read a personal account of the Holocaust, then you should as history has a nasty habit of repeating itself, and Ivan Singer’s book is the one to read.
Review by Helen Hayes Grant, Publisher, Scribe NSW
Paperback, 456 pages