Fleeing the Nazis, Surviving the Gulag, and Arriving in the Free World: My Life and Times

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Victor Zarnowitz is a world-famous economist. Victor Zarnowitz is also a man who grew up in the Polish town of Oswiecim, known in German as Auschwitz. Zarnowitz and his brother fled the area as the Nazis advanced in September 1939. Moving eastward, he landed right in the arms of the Soviets and was sent to a Siberian Gulag. How did this brilliant young man, who nearly died at the hands of the Soviets, end up a renowned University of Chicago economist? That's exactly what this inspiring, lyrical memoir-told in simple, captivating prose-is all about. The recipient of many prizes and honors, Zarnowitz is still, at age eighty-seven, one of the six economists who decide officially that the U.S. is in a recession. He is also a captivating writer and his memoir a thrilling page turner: -In September 1939 Victor and his brother walked the entire width of Poland with the blitzkrieg just behind them. They ran right into oncoming Soviet troops. Zarnowitz was trapped at the junction of the two most fearsome armies the world had ever seen. He was literally standing in the center point of history. -The Soviets considered Polish refugees prisoners of war. In 1940, they transported Zarnowitz and his brother thousands of miles north and put them to work in Stalin's oldest Gulag. They earned their daily gruel and bread crusts by trying to meet impossible work quotas. The last third of the book brings the story up to date, telling, in a non-technical manner, of Zarnowitz's life in America and his professional career. It includes his observations of other economists and their ideas, his own contributions to business-cycle theory and economic indicators, and his thoughts on more than a half-century of American history. While memoirs of the Holocaust are plentiful, the Jewish experience in Stalin's Gulags has been virtually forgotten. Weaving politics and economics into the harrowing tale of his personal journey, Zarnowitz's inspiring life story provides a priceless perspective on some of the most traumatic upheavals of the 20th century-and on the resilience and power of the human spirit.