Im still reeling from it. No matter what you think you know about the Holocaust, or seen in newsreels, it never fails to shock...more What i liked about it
Im still reeling from it. No matter what you think you know about the Holocaust, or seen in newsreels, it never fails to shock at the sheer scale of it. To say the Jews were treated far worse than livestock is an understatement, I can't even begin to describe their treatment. Like 'The Pianist' this is brought to home even more chillingly when its an account of actual individuals and their testimonies of what happened, what they had to do to survive and who they lost. Being a good Jew was never going to help you survive, and luck had nothing to do with it, those few that did, did so by some act of cunning and ingeniousness and in this case with the help of Oscar Schindler, who whilst maintaining a front of needing them to produce goods for the war effort and through spending millions on bribes, managed to protect about a 1000 Jews, a very small portion of the millions who would perish even then it was only possible by them being his prisoners and an incredible amount of subterfuge and daring acts. He was himself arrested 3 times and had to risk his story not being believed by the allies when the war ended. The book is very well written and based entirely on the evidence and interviews of the survivors. The author states in the preface that being a novelist he was more comfortable with that style of writing and so it is written essentially as a historical biography but fleshed out a little to give more of an impression of how events took place and what it was like, with conversations written as they would have occurred as dialoge rather than as recollections. To me a well written book (or movie) that is based in fact automatically gains a bonus star and this ones is something that was compulsive reading. It should be taught in schools. Its incredible to think my parents would have been teenagers when the worst of this was happening not that far away. Its just mind-boggling to think that it could have in what we imagine to be a civilsed nation. The thing is you only have to look as far as Guantanamo Bay to see how easily de-humanisation of people can begin to happen on our own doorsteps if it is not checked. I must admit it does also give you a sense of how damned lucky you are to have been born where you were and at what time. The Polish Jews were persecuted by the Poles before the war, and if they survived it, were 'liberated' to become citizens of a Soviet State. Nice one!..Ok..OK..so we all now about the holocaust but back to the book, I highly recommend it!, extremely well written, factual, and not overly-dramatised. The events were so shocking there was no need for it.
What I didnt like 'likes' and odd word for this book, it grips you, it makes you think and it makes you feel - deeply. But its not for the faint hearted, be prepared for holocaust nightmares!. Ive also read reviews from people who found it too dry and historical and not the novel they were hoping for. To me this enhanced it, I didnt find it in the least bit dry but i love a great biography. So if your searching for a great Novel in the traditional sense of the word then it may not be for you.
Moving and heartfelt, fictionalised account of the lives of the Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic under the tyranical regime of the Dictator T...moreMoving and heartfelt, fictionalised account of the lives of the Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic under the tyranical regime of the Dictator Trujillo.
Theres something about Hispanic writing and settings that I really warm too. The close knit extended families, the powerful language, Limondas on the verandah in a tropical garden. Passionate emotional characters. This had the added bonus or a true and tragic story and the sense of what it must be like to live at first relatively normal lives under a system where your every word could be overheard and used against you, people you know dissapearing and meanwhile having to be seen to celebrate your 'Benefactor'. And ultimately making choices as to how involved and what risks you would take to oppose that regime.
The book is written with varying perspectives of the four sisters. I loved it from the start. There were a couple of times when it dragged slighlty, I wouldnt have wanted to be any longer. I wasnt particularly fond of Maria Therese's childish diary entries. But overall, thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing.(less)
I felt slightly guilty in the end considering it was for a book challenge task in honour of The Queens birthday.. i wont be getting a knighthood any t...moreI felt slightly guilty in the end considering it was for a book challenge task in honour of The Queens birthday.. i wont be getting a knighthood any time soon!. Actually H.M comes out relatively unscathed but in general the whole House of Windsor is summarily blasted. Its a definate page turner - we all love a scandal don't we?. Its seemingly very well researched and does point out clearly where things cant be proven and what facts there are. The more you go on, it does seem the more they had to find on them to keep up the pace so it seems whilst the majority of the book is extremely likely to be accurate there are one or two claims when you think, now come on thats a bit much.
e.g - The famous Soviet spy Anthony Blunt who was the Queens Art curator who managed to stay in close contact and in his job with the Royals for 15yrs after being uncovered as a traitor before it became public - the authors suggest was possibly an illegitimate child of George V, hence family resemblences and he new secrets, hence looked after.
- Lord Louis Mountbatten, Prince Charles favorite uncle and National War hero, while quite conviningly being shown to have been a megalomaniac, incompetent, bisexual and who pushed Prince Philip into tge royal marriage in order to create a dynastic house of Mountbatten (which Prince Charles may well adopt the title of on his accession), is suggested to have been in cahoots with the Soviets and finally killed not by the IRA but by the KGB getting rid of evidence under the guise of the IRA - hmm not sure about that one! Why would a prominent Royal be pro communist being the atipethis of everything communism stands for and at the same time promote his familys dynastic claims
Most of the rest of the book however enlightens us on some other interesting facts, most of which either now well known to the public or corroborated by other researchers suggestions.
Famously the Windsor dynastic line were never really British at and came to power through an obsucre German count who was 52nd in line to the thrown but happened to be the closes related protestant they could find after Queen Annne. Following anti-german feeling during the first world war they reluctantly changed their name to Windsor to try be as british as possible but still remained on excellent terms with the German royal families. They were looked down on by the blue blood english aristocracy who really were decended from English nobility.
Communism was seen as the ultimate threat given what happened to their cousins the Romanovs so though hopefully unaware of the true nature of Nazi-ism were very pro German even during the war and frequently tried to bring behind the scenes peace with Germany to side with them over the Russians.
At various times George the V was shown to have made unconstitutional influences over the government and it is claimed MRS Simpson was a convenient scape goat to force Edward the VIII into abdication because his views were so reactionary and he did not plan on being a hands-off monarch allowing the elected government to do its thing.
The Queen mum is claimed to have been after Edward but settled for second best with George VI hence her unending hatred and snubbing of the Duchess of Windsor who was refused a royal title.
All this and more ! certianly a fascinating read - thoroughly enjoyed it.(less)
I do love a really good true story/biography. This is slightly novelised, in the same manner as Schindlers list - i.e just a touch to make it more rea...moreI do love a really good true story/biography. This is slightly novelised, in the same manner as Schindlers list - i.e just a touch to make it more readable. I so want to go to Savannah now, I love great architecture, history and larger than life characters ... i need to go!. Loved the film too, so it was good having Kevin Spacey and John Cusack have starring parts in my head. Oh and Chablis of course, loved her.. 'The Doll'. Very easy read, funny and gripping at the same time. It would be hard to see whats to dislike about this one.(less)
What a great autobiography - just shows ordinary peoples lives can be just as interesting to read about as famous ones. it made me think alot about wh...moreWhat a great autobiography - just shows ordinary peoples lives can be just as interesting to read about as famous ones. it made me think alot about what life would have been like for my poor grandparents, struggling to make ends meet. Working class values. The class system in general. The value of learning and education. The gumption to do an honest days work and work hard. The drive to make something of yourself and to make a difference. The politics of the time. The frightening feeling of impending war - My Father would have been about 10, imagine war breaking out. Pretty scary. Woodruff is a great writer and a likeable person with a great story to tell. I enjoyed it far more than i expected to.(less)