The Puzzleman by Ivan Moscovich

by Julia DeKorte | 12 Aug 2022

Book Reviews

Ivan Moscovich’s memoir, The Puzzleman, is an unbelievable combination of gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking and awe-inspiring. As he puts it, he tells the story of a life “well spent.” A Holocaust survivor, founder and director of the Museum of Science and Technology in Tel Aviv, creator of the Harmonograph, author of over 50 books, inventor of countless toys, games, and puzzles, to say he is an accomplished man is an understatement.

Moscovich writes chronologically, beginning with his childhood in Navi Sad, Yugoslavia. He lived a relatively normal life up until 1942, when the Navi Sad Raid occurred. This marked the beginning of the extreme antisemitism Moscovich faced leading up to the Holocaust. He details his time in four different concentration camps, nearing death time and time again, accrediting this survival to his sheer will to survive, repeating to himself that survival is the best revenge. These sections of the memoir are horrific and heartbreaking as he describes the brutality he faced at the hands of Nazi Germany.

After liberation, Moscovich writes that he became a workaholic, attempting to constantly distract himself from reliving the nightmares of the Holocaust. He writes in depth about his work repairing the Yugoslavian railway, earning a degree in mechanical engineering, his creation of the harmonograph, and founding and director the Museum of Science and Technology in Tel Aviv before “retiring” and focusing more on creating toys, games, puzzles, and teaching aids.

Moscovich’s story is incredibly well written. His emotional recount of the loss of his childhood and his time in concentration camps will leave readers with wet eyes, and his many creative and scientific endeavors in the time after the Holocaust are impressive, inspiring, and heartwarming. His resiliency is abundantly clear as he overcomes obstacle over obstacle, yet he writes of his achievements with such humility, you wouldn’t know he’s won over 70 awards and medals for his work.

The Puzzleman is a wonderful story, absolutely worth reading. A well written and engaging story with various pictures that help tell his life story and many images of his famous Harmonograms, his memoir itself is a piece of history.

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