Robert Karmon


Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 2 customer ratings
(6 customer reviews)


Isaac is a true coming-of-age story of miraculous survival, courage and love.

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On the night of November 6th, 1941, the life of Isaac Gochman, a 16 year old Polish Jew, changes tragically and profoundly. Over 20,000 Jews from Rovno, Poland are marched into the Sosenki Forest by the Nazis, stripped and shot to death, then buried in an endless, unmarked ravine. All of Isaac’s family and friends die in the massacre. But Isaac miraculously survives the slaughter, and so begins his incredible and harrowing journey through the Polish forest, facing unimaginable hardships and the constant threat of death from the Nazis and their sympathizers.

To save himself, he adopts a new identity, Sergei, a Russian Christian, and joins the Russian Partisan Brigade, to become a demolition “miracle man.” As a Partisan, he falls passionately in love for the first time in his young life with Ducia, a Russian Nurse.

Near the end of the war, with Ducia tragically gone forever, he turns his back on his homeland, heroically saves the lives of American soldiers, and finds a new home in America.

Isaac is a true coming-of-age story of miraculous survival, courage and love.



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Hardcover, Paperback


Robert Karmon




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Page/Word Count

188 pages




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6 reviews for Isaac

  1. Rated 5 out of 5


    Excellent book.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Dick Allen, Author of ‘Ode to Cold War’

    Isaac, based on a true story, follows the epic journey of young boy from near-death to ultimate triumph as a man. It is as harrowing as “The Revenant.” In parable-like prose, it captures Isaac’s miraculous survival of the Nazi massacre of his family and his escape alone into a vast, nightmarish European Forest. After being saved by his friend, Pietka, a gentile from near his village, he joins the Russian Partisans and falls in love with Ducia, a Russian Partisan Nurse. I was immediately drawn into the plight of this brave young man as he learns how love and friendship can overcome the memories of hatred, discrimination, and terrible loss. This is a masterful coming-of-age novel amid the horrors and passions of war. ~ Dick Allen, author of Present Vanishing, Ode to the Cold War, This Shadowy Place, and Connecticut State Poet Laureate (2010-2015)

  3. Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Author of “A Double Dying”

    Isaac narrates the story of a young Jew from Rovno whose wartime survival among partisan fighters in the forests of eastern Europe is grippingly told from first page to last. For their sheer terror, the descriptions of Isaac’s ordeals match those in Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird and some of Aharon Appelfeld’s fiction. Readers drawn to tales of human resiliency against all odds will find this a compelling novel. ~ Alvin H. Rosenfeld, author of A Double Dying, one of the seminal books on Holocaust Literature; Professor of English and Jewish Studies at Indiana University.

  4. Gary Presley, Foreword Reviews

    Isaac is profound and consequential historical fiction.

    Robert Karmon’s Isaac is a moving tale of a young Polish Jew trapped during the Holocaust, a person who joins anti-Nazi partisans out of necessity, only to be confronted again with virulent anti-Semitism.

    In 1941, the Nazi blitzkrieg strikes Rovno, Poland. Isaac’s father is a prosperous factory owner, but his family is looted of their possessions, marched into Sosenki Forest, executed, and dumped into a mass grave. Only Isaac escapes.

    In shock and terrified, Isaac roams the forest. He is near starvation and dying of exposure when he encounters a partisan group. In the group is Pietka, a gentile boy from a neighboring village. Pietka urges Isaac to identify himself as “Sergei,” a Russian. Many hard, brutal partisans are anti-Semitic, but Isaac keeps his secret and learns demolitions.

    Isaac falls in love with Ducia, an older widowed nurse. Soviet agents bring supplies and assign missions. They too remain ignorant of Isaac’s background, but they find his skill with dynamite and his ability to blow up Nazi supply trains admirable.

    Kolpak, the Russian agent, proves a memorable character, as does Pietka. Ducia is the most nuanced character —written as strong-willed but kind, loving and independent, even among the partisans, who regard women as chattel.

    With danger always present, the narrative remains tense, if it also relies heavily on exposition. Other than Isaac, Ducia, and Pietka, characters are less dimensional than they are role fillers, particularly the nearly indistinguishable cast of Nazis. The setting, rendered with its bitter cold, great gray forest, scarcity of food, and constant danger, makes for a believable atmosphere.

    The novel’s foundation is reality, drawing from the experiences of the real Isaac Gochman, whom the author met when Gochman was in his seventies, and so every page rings with hard truths.

    Isaac is profound and consequential historical fiction, a novel worthy of inclusion in the Holocaust canon.

    Reviewed by Gary Presley
    November/December 2017

  5. Annemarie Hagenaars, actress

    Annemarie Hagenaars of her double role in stage adaptation of novel ISAAC by Robert Karmon

    I just finished reading a novel that I would recommend to anyone: ISAAC by Robert Karmon. I read the novel as part of the research for a double role that I am working on for the next few weeks. Robert Karmon is also a playwright and he adapted his novel to the stage play “The Resettlement of Isaac” in which I will play two of the lead roles. We will perform it at the third annual Jewish Film Festival in Southampton on August 21st, directed by Robert Kalfin (founder New York’s Chelsea Theatre Center, winner of five Tony Awards, four Tony nominations and 21 Obie Awards).

    I am truly astonished by Karmon’s book. In Dutch we have an expression that says: “This book reads like a train”. And it means that you can’t put it down once you start reading. It is exactly what happened to me.

    Karmon’s novel is inspired by the true-life story of Isaac Gochman, a 16 year old Polish Jew, who looses all his family and friends in one night stripped, shot to death and buried by the Nazis in an endless trench. Miraculously Isaac survives the slaughter and when he wakes up he finds himself among the dead bodies of over 20,000 Jews. Then his incredible journey of survival in the Polish forest begins. For months he travels by himself with whatever the woods have to offer. Then he adopts a new identity and he joins the Russian Partisan Brigade where he becomes a hero and falls in love for the first time. ISAAC is a beautiful story about survival, courage and love. – Annemarie Hagenaars

  6. Barbara M. Bibel, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews

    This novel, based on the life of Isaac Gochman, is a moving story that immediately engages readers.
    Isaac was sixteen years old in September 1941 when the Nazis invaded Poland. When his family is
    rounded up with the other Jews in Rovno, he manages to survive the mass slaughter and escape to the nearby forest. He wanders alone for days, hiding in the woods, until he encounters Pietka, a friend
    from his old neighborhood, and joins the Russian partisans. His new role gives him both sustenance
    and purpose. He learns to make bombs and participates in demolition attacks. He also falls in love with
    Ducia, a Russian nurse. His exploits during the war, his fluency in seven languages, and his eventual
    immigration to the United States will have readers turning the pages rapidly. This inspirational story
    will interest history and Holocaust studies scholars as well as general readers. Older teens will also enjoy it. It is a good choice for book groups as well.
    ~ Barbara M. Bibel, Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA. In Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews

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