Strangers in a Stranger Land: How One Country's Jews Fought an Unwinnable War alongside Nazi Troops... and Survived


Product Details

Hamilton Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.9 X 1.2 inches | 1.7 pounds
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About the Author

John B. Simon is the author of To Become Somebody: Growing up against the Grain of Society and Kone's Prince.


I began reading John B. Simon's non-fiction Strangers in a Stranger Land, which recounts the singular history of Finland's Jews as the fictional story of three generations, published in time for Christmas 2017, with the intention of making my way through it by the end of the month. What happened? I finished the book in a twenty-four-hour marathon read. I simply couldn't put it down. . . . Then a second reading before the end of the month. The book in question is, to put it simply, good.
In Simon's book, the alternation between the fictional narrative and historical sections is skillfully constructed. Imagined characters encounter real people in real situations. The lives of Benjamin and those close to him are connected to almost all those events, phenomena and unusual circumstances for which the history of Finland's Jewish community has become known. His book succeeds in providing a multifaceted portrayal of a difficult history.
Strangers in a Stranger Land is three books in one: a history of the Jews in Finland, a surprisingly compact history of Finland over the same period, and a novel in which David, Benjamin, and Rachel, three childhood friends, grow up and experience the prewar and war years through their complicated interpersonal relationship. An excellent book. Simon has put in years of effort, and it shows on every page.