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Children's Nonfiction Holocaust

By Chance Alone: The Young Readers' Edition

by (author) Max Eisen & Kathy Kacer

HarperCollins Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2024
Holocaust, Historical, Europe
Recommended Age
10 to 13
Recommended Grade
5 to 8
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2024
    List Price

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The moving, award-winning Canada Reads book from Holocaust survivor Max Eisen, now adapted for young readers

Tibor “Max” Eisen was born in Czechoslovakia into an Orthodox Jewish family. He lived in a compound with his parents, his two younger brothers, his baby sister, his paternal grandparents and his uncle and aunt. Life was far from perfect, but it was relatively peaceful.

But in the spring of 1944—the morning after the family’s Passover Seder—officers forcibly removed Eisen and his family from their home. They, and thousands of other Jewish people, were brought to a brickyard and later loaded onto crowded cattle cars bound for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Fifteen-year-old Max lost his entire family, but he survived the selection process and went on to endure back-breaking slave labour and the infamous Death March in January 1945.

Max eventually survived his painful ordeal. And he knew he had to keep the very last promise he made to his father: to tell the world what happened at Auschwitz. By Chance Alone is the result of this promise.

About the authors

MAX EISEN was born in Moldava nad Bodvou, a town in rural Czechoslovakia. He was ten years old when Hungary occupied Slovakia. In 1944 his family was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where most of them were immediately killed in gas chambers. Max, his father and uncle worked as slave labourers, but two months later both men were selected for medical experiments and subsequently murdered. Max lived; he managed to survive the Death March in January 1945 and the camps at Mauthausen, Melk and Ebensee in Austria. He was liberated by the American 761st Black Panther Tank Battalion on May 6th, 1945. Eventually, he returned to Czechoslovakia, where he spent three years in an orphanage.

Max Eisen arrived in Quebec City in October 1949 en route to Toronto, where he met his wife, Ivy Cosman. In 2016, Eisen released his memoir By Chance Alone, which was a finalist for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize and the winner of the 2019 CBC Canada Reads competition. He died on July 7th, 2022. Max Eisen is survived by his wife, his sons Ed and Larry, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Max Eisen's profile page


Kathy Kacer est une auteure primée qui a écrit de nombreux livres sur l'holocauste pour les jeunes lecteurs, dont The Magician of Auschwitz, L'histoire d'Edith, Le journal de Sara et Les espions de la nuit. Elle s'estime honorée de contribuer à faire connaître l'histoire familiale de Jenny Kay Dupuis. Kathy vit avec sa famille à Toronto.


Kathy Kacer has won many awards for her writing, including the American Jewish Library Association Award. In 1999, she wrote the first book in Second Story's Holocaust Remembrance Series, The Secret of Gabi's Dresser. Since then, she's penned four other books in the series. Kacer now writes about the Holocaust for young readers and travels the country speaking about it. Kacer lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her family.

Kathy Kacer's profile page

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