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Joe's War: My Father Decoded
Acclaimed biographer Annette Kobak turns her attention to her own family as she sets out to uncover her father's never-discussed past. A mysterious and conspicuously silent figure in Annette's life for some forty-five years, Joe Kobak at last shared with his daughter his harrowing experiences during World War II, which she has turned into a riveting work of history and mem ...more
ebook, 464 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage
(first published January 1st 2004)
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I would have preferred (& likely enjoyed) an excerpt. Joe's story (as told to his daughter), her travels re-tracing his steps and her commentary on the impact his experiences had on their family were all interesting. Unfortunately they were all mired in pages and pages of verbatim speeches, war correspondence and other historical reports which were detailed, dry and (to me) de-railed the story. If I wanted to read a history textbook, I would go back to university. Also the vocabulary was at ...more
Good start and good ending. Middle filled up with personal point of view on Eastern European Twentieth century history - the gist of it being everybody did something bad to the Poles and the Czechs. History is always much more messy and less guilt free. Nonetheless, a very good book to get an alternate look from an Eastern European point of view (except it was written by the daughter of a Czech/Polish immigre who grew up in England. The end does a nice bit about how things are never quite what y ...more
Highly recommended. Not an easy or fast read, but I learned so so so much. I had no real idea of what happened in Eastern Europe before WWII, of the perfidy of the Allies (Neville Chamberlain, world-class asshat). Buy a copy and take your time with this. Parts of it drag a bit, but the history is well and clearly told, with just enough personal insight and relevance to make it that much more compelling.
Born in London, Annette Kobak studied modern languages at Cambridge University and creative writing at the university of East Anglia. She has written an acclaimed biography of the traveller Isabelle Eberhardt, and translated her novel Vagabond from the French. She presented the series The Art of Travel on BBC Radio 4, and reviews travel books and fiction for The New York Times Book Review and The ...moreMore about Annette Kobak...