The Good Listener
Helen Bamber, A Life Against CrueltyBook - 1998
A magisterial achievement: part biography, part history, part moral meditation on the resurrection of torture as an instrument of political power in the twentieth century,The Good Listenertells the story of Helen Bamber, a good but complex woman now in her seventies, who has spent her life battling to bring the dark side of history into the light. In almost every situation in our century where mankind has demonstrated its capacity to intensify evil--during the Nazi Holocaust, in Algeria, Chile, Africa, the USSR, and Israel, as well as in postwar Britain and Germany--Bamber has served as a witness, an expert, or a reproach, as well as a repository of our collective memory of debasement. Her father, a Polish Jew, had been so obsessed by the Fascist threat that he would read to Helen from Goebbels' speeches, teaching her how corrupting and manipulative language can be. She went to Bergen-Belsen after World War II had ended, and upon her return to London she dedicated herself to caring for the young survivors of the camp. So began Bamber's brave devotion to the grim and dangerous task of undoing the work of the torturer--culminating, after her participation as a central force in Amnesty International, in her establishment in England of the Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. Because Bamber's uncanny openness to others has been one of her great skills,The Good Listeneris rendered even more powerful by the stories of the people she has helped, stories that become unforgettable records of meaningless human suffering. Written with preternatural sensitivity,The Good Listeneris a remarkable and important book.
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