Reading Matters

Surprise! Maybe there’s upside to downside

OK. Maybe Nietzsche was right when he said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

At least, according to a new, deeply-reported book, “Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth,” by long-time journalist Jim Rendon.

Rendon’s father was captured by Nazis as a teenager, and he spent time in two concentration camps, including the notorious Mittelbau-Dora, where he helped to hollow out mines in airless dampness beneath the Harz mountains. Eventually, he escaped and fled to the American line and made his way to this country.

Growing up, the author noticed that his dad’s experiences had not made the man bitter. Instead, his father showed great empathy and compassion toward both his friends and toward animals. Though he still does not sleep well, Rendon says his dad had a remarkable sense of humor and maintains close relationships.

Rendon feels his father is a “survivor in the truest sense,” and he undertook the writing of this book to help others who have suffered through traumas and “provide them with some of the tools they need to create a more positive future for themselves, perhaps even to transform their lives in ways they had never thought possible.”

Interviews with leading researchers and dozens of trauma survivors. An inspiring read.