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The Emperor of Lies

About the Book

The Emperor of Lies

Winner of the August Prize, Sweden’s most important literary award.

Capturing a chilling, often overlooked chapter in Holocaust history, The Emperor of Liesreimagines the controversial reign of Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, a Jewish businessman and orphanage director appointed by the Nazis to lead the Jewish ghetto in the Polish city of Łódź. Overseeing the second-largest ghetto, where more than 200,000 captives would fight for survival between 1940 and 1944, Rumkowski was scorned by many as a power-hungry opportunist, while others credited him with saving lives.

Remarkably, Rumkowski insisted that the leaders of Łódź maintain a comprehensive archive, the Ghetto Chronicle, preserving thousands of written and photographic records of daily existence in the ghetto from 1941 to the final transports. The award-winning novelist Steve Sem-Sandberg carefully traces all aspects of that world as revealed in the Chronicle. Also woven with correspondence, speeches, and personal details uncovered through meticulous research, The Emperor of Lies brings to light a full panorama of humanity, from former members of an elite ruling class to uneducated but devout farmers: people of all ages, from all walks of life, forced to become cogs in an industrial complex that Rumkowski believed would make them indispensable to the Nazi regime.

Introducing one of Europe’s most significant literary talents to America, this mesmerizing book explores essential questions about human nature in the face of dehumanizing circumstances. We hope this guide will enrich your discussion of Steve Sem-Sandberg’s unforgettable masterwork.

The Emperor of Lies
by Steve Sem-Sandberg

  • Publication Date: August 30, 2011
  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • ISBN-10: 0374139644
  • ISBN-13: 9780374139643