A quote from Elie Wiesel prefaces Chicago-native Irving Abrahamson's autobiography, The Whole Story: A Journey into the 20th Century. It reads: "Who doesn't go to the end, can only know a truth that is partial and mutilated."
As evidenced by the pages that follow Wiesel's avowal, Abrahamson certainly went through lengths in his lifetime to uncover the fullest possible truth.
Originally written in 2004 and interspersed with personal letters, diary entries, and literary passages, The Whole Story documents the author's expedition to the Soviet Union to connect with his aunt, whom he knew only from her letters to his father. From such correspondence, Abrahamson had knowledge of her life of sustained suffering under the Germans in WWII and the Soviets soon after, but was uncertain if she was even alive.
The Whole Story reveals Abrahamson's determination to realize his human connections, while illustrating how he and others are shaped by the journey, and the 20th century as a whole, years after.
Along with the miraculous story of why and how he found his aunt, Abrahamson includes historical accounts of the Holocaust and considers the impact it had on Catholic-Jewish relations during Pope John Paul II's reign. He digs deep for evidence countering John Paul's alleged attitude of wanting to progress interreligious dialogue between Catholics and Jews, going on to suggest the need for the two camps to bear in mind this recent history and to push for respectful and reconciliatory dialogue in the future.
Here, again, does the author make every effort to know a truth beyond that which is apparent on the surface.