The Power of One

  • December 13, 2009
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How can writers capture an unfathomable historical event? How can they give readers a grasp of the dimensions of genocide? How can they portray the legacy of the Holocaust?

“The death of one man is a tragedy,” Joseph Stalin once said. “The death of a million is a statistic.”

Statistical historians try to quantify the truth through numbers; writers attempt to assign meaning and context to those numbers.

Writers know the power of one.

Statistics are a lot like a woman wearing a bikini, Cal State, East Bay history professor Jerry Henig once said. “What the bikini reveals is interesting; what it hides is essential.”

Memoirists and novelists don’t have much use for the bikini.

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