RAVENSBRUCK is such a fine example of exemplary non-fiction, treating its horrific and brutal subject with an even hand and a great deal of grace. Author Sarah Helm does not shy away from her subject of Hilter's concentration camp for women, detailing the barbaric conditions, the cruel treatment, and the overall futility. This detail is not offered just to shock; Helm shares it in such a way that the reader's exposure to the horror grows much as it must have for the women, letting us see what terrible impact it made on individuals.
This is what sets RAVENSBRUCK apart: Helm's focus on the women of the camp and their voices, many of which have been virtually unheard in writing about the concentration camps. Throughout the book, Helm takes the time to focus on the different groups brought into the camp and the women of those groups who led or held them together, and who worked to bring humanity into such a desolate place. This allows the reader to see on a human level what love and charity can grow in desperate times (such as the small gifts prisoners made for each other, or how they shared meager food and water), and also how horrible every day details we may not have heard are (stores of food and tinned milk in the storage sheds were discovered as the camp began to be shut down, even as women and babies were dying).