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  • Writer's pictureHarvey Brownstone

The little book that could!

Sometime last summer, I made one of my semi-annual pilgrimages to a large wholesale book outlet. I scoured for intriguing books that might help occupy my far-too-abundant "down time" during this never-ending pandemic. A book entitled "Hidden Gold: A True Story of the Holocaust" caught my attention. I thought I was going to read a story about how a persecuted Jewish family somewhere in Europe hid their valuables in someone's attic or backyard, and then they or their descendants were able to retrieve the "hidden gold" after the war.

Well, I was in for a much more dramatic and compelling story than I could have imagined. In early February I sat down to read the book, and found myself drawn into an incredibly moving and life-altering story of epic proportions. I simply could not put the book down. Although the author Ella Burakowski tells a true story, she deftly wrote it as a suspense novel - a nail-biting page-turner that had me devouring each page and thinking of little else but the story of the author's grandmother, mother, uncle and aunt, who survived the Holocaust - but just barely - in deplorable conditions and against all odds. With each incident that happened to these people, I kept asking myself over and over again how I would have reacted, and whether I could have endured the unspeakably horrific circumstances that these people had to endure for 26 months in a barn in rural Poland.

After finishing the book at record speed (at least for me), I found myself thinking incessantly about that family. Were there other things that happened to them during their confinement that the author chose not to include in the book (I kept getting that feeling ), and if so, why?What happened to them after the war? What was it like for the author to be raised by and closely related to people who had suffered such unfathomable hardship? What made her decide to write this book? How did a first-time author develop and brilliantly apply the concept of writing a non-fiction book as if it were fiction, and where did this incredible writing talent come from at her stage in life? And, most importantly, why hadn't I heard about this book before? Why wasn't this book on the best seller list? Why hadn't a movie based on the book been made? So many questions.

And then I thought, "wait a minute Harvey, you have an interview program on the internet". At that time I had revived my talk show only for the purposes of doing a 4-part series about recently deceased pop singer Helen Reddy. I didn't think I would be doing any more interviews. But I knew that if I could somehow reach Ella Burakowski, the author of "Hidden Gold", and convince her to give me an interview, I could not only get the answers to all my questions, but more importantly, I could hopefully shed light on this wonderful book and concurrently, do my part in keeping stories of the Holocaust alive, which is monumentally important.

Through the book's website I made contact with Ella Burakowski, who readily agreed to take a chance on someone she'd never heard of, and whose track record as an interviewer was certainly not of the caliber that her book deserved. She trusted her instincts, and agreed to share her family's precious story and legacy in a "Harvey Brownstone Interview". On February 17, 2021 I had the great pleasure and privilege of conducting the in-depth interview which is now available for the world to see.

I found Ella to be warm, engaging, and very forthcoming about her life, her book and her family. Early in the interview I could tell that she began to trust me; she knew that I had read the book, and that I understood the importance of Holocaust education. I could tell that she felt I was asking the right questions and she was only too eager to answer them. She was a pleasure to interview, because she had so much to say - all of it intriguing, thought-provoking and compelling.

When we posted the interview on the website, Facebook page and YouTube, we expected a moderate audience, given the fact that neither the author nor her book were well-known outside the Toronto Jewish community (that is another conversation - why do so many publishers do so little to promote their books??). Well, to our utter amazement, Ella's interview has surpassed our wildest imaginings! As of this writing, in just 1 month since the interview went live online, over 5,000 people have watched it! The number of views is growing daily at an exponential rate. "Hidden Gold" and its beautiful author, Ella Burakowski, have clearly touched a chord out there. The interview has gone viral. And I couldn't be happier about it. "Hidden Gold" is the little book that could! Thanks to the interview, "Hidden Gold" reached Number 1 in its category on Amazon and has remained one of the top books in its category ever since. So.....hungry authors out there with great books....maybe you are in need of a "Harvey Brownstone Interview"? Just sayin'....

I have kept in touch with Ella regularly since the interview. She has become a dear friend. As someone who has herself been subjected to the intense examination-in-chief that is the "Harvey Brownstone Interview" approach, she is a valued critic of my interviews. I'm encouraging her to "pitch" the book to film makers, because it is a "no brainer" that this book would make a fabulous movie. And, given the ever-increasing number of viewers that her interview is attracting, let's hope that film makers will see the obvious marketability of a movie based on "Hidden Gold". I am gratified and proud that I played a small role in helping to make the public aware of this truly unforgettable book and its gifted author. That's what a good interview with a great author should do.

My sincere thanks to everyone who has not only taken the time to watch the interview, and to read the book, but also to share it with their friends. We owe it to the millions of Holocaust victims and their families to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, so that such a monstrously evil catastrophe never happens again.

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