How did Nazi persecution affect the later lives of children and young adolescents? In "Light from the Ashes," eighteen eminent social scientists trace the connection between their early wartime experiences and their adult research careers, personality, and values. Autobiographical essays describe their trauma of fleeing from or surviving the Holocaust during childhood or adolescence, and how this influenced their eventual choice of work and general outlook on life.
The introductory and closing chapters set these narratives in historical and theoretical context and discuss their broader psychological and social implications. A unique feature of the book is that its contributors were children or adolescents when they became targets of Nazi persecution. Each chapter covers the contributor's experiences during and after the war, his or her professional education, development, and activities, and the perceived connection between those factors. The wider impact of the early years on adult attitudes, political orientation, ethics, religion, family life, important values, and personality characteristics is also discussed.
The book will be of primary interest to psychologists and to literary scholars interested in narrative and autobiography. It will be relevant to historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science, especially social science; and to scholars and researchers of all disciplines interested in the impact of traumatic violence, dislocation, war, persecution, and emigration (particularly, but not only, related to the Holocaust) on the subsequent lives of children and adolescents. It will also be valuable to psychologists, psychiatrists, and other scientists working in thefield of stress and coping.
For the general reader, the book offers the reminiscences of articulate and introspective people who as children experienced a wide variety of adverse circumstances and responded to them--then and later--in a wide variety of mostly adaptive ways. Readers intrigued by first-person narratives of war, persecution, and resilience will find the book of great interest.
Peter Suedfeld is Professor of Psychology, University of British Columbia.