I Lived to Tell the World

Stories from Survivors of Holocaust, Genocide, and the Atrocities of War

Elizabeth Mehren

Foreword by Timothy Longman

Oregon State University Press

As we reflect on a challenging year marked by the escalation of major conflicts around the globe, I Lived to Tell the World presents thirteen inspiring profiles of men and women who have endured unthinkable cruelty, only to resume productive lives in their new homes in Oregon. They come from Rwanda, Myanmar, Bosnia, Syria, and more—different stories, different conflicts, but similar paths through loss and violence to a new, not always easy, life in the United States. The in-depth profiles are drawn from hours of interviews and oral histories; journalist Elizabeth Mehren worked collaboratively with the survivors to honor the complexity of their experiences and to ensure that the stories are told with, and not just about, them. Mehren also weaves in historical, cultural, and political context alongside these personal stories of resilience. 

These personal stories inspire readers to reflect on their own experiences, and to view these survivors as a source of hope in their own dark times. As more states adopt Holocaust and genocide education curricula, and as issues around refugees, immigration and racial justice gain increasing attention, I Lived to Tell the World highlights the purposeful lives led by these Oregonians despite their painful pasts. Their experiences not only humanize the atrocities often seen in headlines, but also convey a universal message of courage.


Elizabeth Mehren is a Portland-based writer, editor, and educator. After working at The Washington Post, she became a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and later spent a decade on the faculty at Boston University. Mehren earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at UC Berkeley and has written for national magazines, appeared on television and radio, and received awards for teaching and journalism. I Lived to Tell the World is her fifth book.


I Lived to Tell the World is a beautiful, moving testament to human resilience. This book skillfully weaves together personal stories with historical facts, giving readers a window into some of our world’s most horrific mass atrocities from a personal point of view. We are invited in as witnesses to hear these intimate stories, and despite the terrifying reality of the wars and genocides we read about, it is impossible not to come away feeling hopeful and full of awe. These stories remind us that it is possible to find meaning and purpose even amid suffering, and that we have agency in determining our path forward.”

— Annie Brewster MD, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 6 x 9 inches. 304 pages
  • 33 b&w photographs
  • Paperback. $29.95
  • ISBN: 978-1-962645-07-2