Extended Audio Sample

Download A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the Worlds Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor Audiobook, by Caroline Stoessinger Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (179 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Caroline Stoessinger Narrator: Linda Korn Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2012 ISBN: 9780307967688
Regular Price: $20.00 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $17.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

The subject of the Academy Award–winning documentary The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, Alice Herz-Sommer was the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor when she died on February 23, 2014. A Century of Wisdom is the true story of her life—an inspiring story of resilience and the power of optimism.
 
Before her death at 110, the pianist Alice Herz-Sommer was an eyewitness to the entire last century and the first decade of this one. She had seen it all, surviving the Theresienstadt concentration camp, attending the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, and along the way coming into contact with some of the most fascinating historical figures of our time. As a child in Prague, she spent weekends and holidays in the company of Franz Kafka (whom she knew as “Uncle Franz”), and Gustav Mahler, Sigmund Freud, and Rainer Maria Rilke were friendly with her mother. When Alice moved to Israel after the war, Golda Meir attended her house concerts, as did Arthur Rubinstein, Leonard Bernstein, and Isaac Stern. Until the end of her life Alice, who lived in London, practiced piano for hours every day. 
 
Despite her imprisonment in Theresienstadt and the murders of her mother, husband, and friends by the Nazis, and much later the premature death of her son, Alice was victorious in her ability to live a life without bitterness. She credited music as the key to her survival, as well as her ability to acknowledge the humanity in each person, even her enemies. A Century of Wisdom is the remarkable and inspiring story of one woman’s lifelong determination—in the face of some of the worst evils known to man—to find goodness in life. It is a testament to the bonds of friendship, the power of music, and the importance of leading a life of material simplicity, intellectual curiosity, and never-ending optimism.

Praise for A Century of Wisdom
 
“An instruction manual for a life well lived.”The Wall Street Journal
 
“As if her 108 years of experience alone were not enough to coax you, there is the overarching fact that draws people to Herz-Sommer’s story: She survived the Theresienstadt concentration camp and is believed to be the oldest living Holocaust survivor.”The Washington Post
 
“I have rarely read a Holocaust survivor’s memoir as enriching and meaningful. Get Caroline Stoessinger’s book, A Century of Wisdom, telling Alice Herz-Sommer’s tale of her struggles and triumphs. You will feel rewarded.”—Elie Wiesel
 
A Century of Wisdom is a stately and elegant book about an artist who found deliverance in her passion for music. Caroline Stoessinger writes with a special purity, as though she were arranging pearls on a string of silk.”—Pat Conroy
 
“As one of millions who fell in love on YouTube with Alice Herz-Sommer, a 108-year-old Holocaust survivor who plays the piano and greets each day with no hint of bitterness, I’m grateful to Caroline Stoessinger for writing a book that explains this mystery. You will be inspired by the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, who lives to teach us.”—Gloria Steinem
 
“I walked on the cobblestones in Prague for thirty years wondering who might have walked on them before me: Kafka, Freud, Mahler. It feels like a miracle to have encountered, in Caroline Stoessinger’s wonderful book, Alice Herz-Sommer, who walked with them all—with a heart full of music.”—Peter Sis

A Century of Wisdom is universal and will enrich readers for generations to come.”—Itzhak Perlman


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

BK_RAND_002913

Quotes & Awards

  • "A survivor of Theresienstadt and a world-class Czech pianist shares her amazing story of survival and triumph. Now living in London since she relocated from Jerusalem to be closer to her only son (now deceased), Herz-Sommer is shortly turning 108, still playing the piano, disciplined and abstemious in her daily habits and fairly active, as Stoessinger records over interviews with her between 2004 and 2011. These are short segments that amplify important aspects of her life, such as her acquaintanceship as a young girl in Prague with Franz Kafka and his circle, her happy though too-brief marriage and successful early career as a concert pianist and teacher, the birth of her son in 1937 just as the Nazis were exerting their terror over the Jewish community in Prague and their abrupt deportation to Theresienstadt in 1943. …[W]hat Stoessinger’s work reveals startlingly and firsthand are details of life in the concentration camp, especially how the musicians coped with the horrible conditions and even formed a vibrant community. … 'Every concert played there,' Stoessinger writes, 'became a moral victory against the enemy.' … Rounding out this work are memories from Herz-Sommer’s students and friends, reflections on favorite authors such as Spinoza, Rilke and Zweig and even recipes. Kirkus Reviews

  • I have rarely read a Holocaust survivor’s memoir as enriching and meaningful. Get Caroline Stoessinger’s book, A Century of Wisdom, telling Alice Herz-Sommer’s tale of her struggles and triumphs. You will feel rewarded. Elie Wiesel
     
  • A Century of Wisdom is a stately and elegant book about an artist who found deliverance in her passion for music. Caroline Stoessinger writes with a special purity, as though she were arranging pearls on a string of silk. Pat Conroy
  • As one of millions who fell in love on YouTube with Alice Herz-Sommer, a 108-year-old Holocaust survivor who plays the piano and greets each day with no hint of bitterness, I’m grateful to Caroline Stoessinger for writing a book that explains this mystery. You will be inspired by the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, who lives to teach us. Gloria Steinem
  • I walked on the cobblestones in Prague for thirty years wondering who might have walked on them before me: Kafka, Freud, Mahler. It feels like a miracle to have encountered, in Caroline Stoessinger’s wonderful book, Alice Herz-Sommer, who walked with them all—with a heart full of music. Peter Sis
  • Caroline Stoessinger’s celebration of music and life and of the meaning and legacy of Alice Herz-Sommer’s remarkable, love-filled journey across the bitter, hate-filled years of twentieth-century madness is lyrical, compelling, and profoundly moving. This is an extraordinary, enchanting, entirely inspiring book—most timely and needed now. Blanche Wiesen Cook

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Courtney | 2/17/2014

    " Inspiring story of an amazing woman! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane S. | 2/13/2014

    " There are not too many people I have read about that I would actually like to meet but Alice is definitely one. At the age of 108 she takes walks to stay healthy, eschewing a walker but wearing tennis shoes, she plays the piano everyday and just until recently was taking classes in philosophy and history. Though the book does explain about the situation in Czechoslovakia, that led to her families internment in the concentration camp, she refuses to dwell on it and if fact once she and her son, the only two left are liberated she really doesn't like to discuss it, because she doesn't want people to feel sorry for her. This book was more a celebration of life and music. Exceptional book about an exceptional person. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 RJ Heller | 2/4/2014

    " A Courageous story that will both inspire for the way a life is chosen to be lived, and haunting in the horrors of a time, a place and of the actions of one people against that of another. A brave woman, who to this day teaches us how to smile, to move forward, to remember and at the same time forget. A story that I will pass onto my children, as a "must" read. A story that we all should read and little by little, try to embrace and perhaps put into action, just some of the lessons Alice lives, each and everyday. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachel | 2/1/2014

    " What I learned from this book: If you want to live to be more than 100, eat very little and drink lots of hot water. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dawn Trlak-Donahue | 1/29/2014

    " Most of my book choices are from a list, this book was one I saw on the shelf at the library and picked it up somewhat arbitrarily. What a gem of a book! It is so uplifting-what a remarkable woman. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dawn | 1/6/2014

    " Very inspirational-- quite a remarkable woman who can live and think the way she does "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alice | 12/27/2013

    " Great life advice and lessons. The book is set out a bit like an interview/documentary And goes back and forth to different years and parts of her life. Overall though a really good book plenty of quotes to lift your spirit. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Lou | 12/26/2013

    " Inspiring and endearing. What a magnificent person. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leigh | 10/15/2013

    " While I enjoyed the story of Alice, I wish the author had simply told the story of Alice's life and not worked so hard to extract "lessons" from her life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 9/27/2013

    " very inspiring to find out how she dealt with surviving the Holocaust with such optimism and how playing the piano was key "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marilyn | 8/24/2013

    " This book did not add to my love of the subject covered in"Alice piano" a book I loved. Alice is 108 years old now and they synopsised her bio here. Kind of dull. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 8/10/2013

    " Inspiring and interesting. Would have preferred a linear timeline, with more info about her younget life and time in the camps "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Camille | 8/9/2013

    " This story is truly inspiring. I hope I can still practice the piano at age 107. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kammie | 7/14/2013

    " I like that Alice was optimistic. She made me want to be a gentler mom. I didn't like hearing about how she knew different people because I wanted to hear more about her. I can't imagine not stopping practice to eat. I love food! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 11/15/2012

    " Wonderful, very inspiring, I wish that I could be as strong and optimistic in the world as this holocaust survivor. It is amazing. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations