A good epic story with true to life characters. Also about the assimilation of Germans coming to the US after WW1, and how these families were affecte...moreA good epic story with true to life characters. Also about the assimilation of Germans coming to the US after WW1, and how these families were affected by WW2. (less)
OK, yesterday I finished the book....... and I am having a very hard time choosing the stars and knowing what to say! Yes it is a very, very good book...moreOK, yesterday I finished the book....... and I am having a very hard time choosing the stars and knowing what to say! Yes it is a very, very good book, BUT STILL it only received 4 rather then 5 stars. The positive first! The book is speckled with marvelous lines that get you thinking. For example - "by getting closer to a smaller world, she had found a larger world." Think about that and how true it is! Trudi, the main character's father has died. She says, "What she missed most was the certainty of being able to share small details of your life with someone who knew you so well. Who else would possibly care what you'd thought while looking out of the window or what you'd eaten for breakfast?" I feel the reader is strengthend, can learn womething about how to live their life by having these small inconsequential views pointed out. And of course I agree.
On the larger scale concerning what the book is maybe "talking about" is how the Germans behavior during the second world war. This too was well depicted, allowing all different character types to be represented. This part of the book was very difficult for me to read. In all honesty I began skimming. I couldn't deal with all the atrocities, depicted ine after the other. There was no light anywhere and in a sense I find this not correct. How do you get through terrible times? Only be seeking out the small things that can make one smile. Furthermore the author discusses EVERYONE in the village. It got to be too much for me. I couldn't keep everyone straight, but yes I did care about them. How can you write a book that isn't depressing about a time such as this? Well the "Book Thief" by Kusak manages, by interspersing some points of joy in the blackness. It is possible to achieve. For this reason I finally chose 4 over 5 stars!
This book revolves around so many different themes: the value of story telling, how people choose to live their lives in so diametrically opposed manners, the value of kindness, what is it that makes one person valued by friends and another not, about being "differen" and, if I can say it one more time, about kindness. Should I have given it 5 stars? Something keeps me back!
This was written when I started the book:
I have only read about 100 pages, but the writing has captured me. Beautiful! Not beautiful in a flat descriptive way, but more that the author captures the souls of her characters. Should I quote a few lines? I am not sure if that would clearly express how these lines make the characters come alive! Here follows one short line to chuckle over. When Trudi is invited by her friend Georg to the blessing of cars, bikes, farm machines and other vehicles by the holy water of the village pastor, Trudi is told by Herr Abramowitz that "catholic water rusts jewish cars!"
Lately I have been reading such marvelous books. It is not that I am generous with praise, but rather that GoodReads is a fabulous site where readers can discover the books that they are seeking and where one is introduced to books that one has never befor encountered. I just had to say that I really love this site! My only worry is that publishing companies and or authors turn it into an advertising medium! What a shame that would be.(less)
Is this the best book I have ever read about WW2? Maybe so. A perfect blend of fact and fiction. Fiction can help teach. I read sonewhere here on Good...moreIs this the best book I have ever read about WW2? Maybe so. A perfect blend of fact and fiction. Fiction can help teach. I read sonewhere here on GoodReads a comment that the reader disliked non-fiction because it was so boring. OMG I believe the total opposite. There is no way that authors can dream up what life really throws at us. Emotionally, this is not an easy read, but it is impossible to put down. You can go on because the author writes of the true to life mixture of horror and beauty. If you open ypur eyes there is beauty and kindness and wonderful things going on at the same time as the horror. How is it possible to get through life if we are blind to the good things that are happening all around us? Giardina shows both. You are making a big mistake if you just put this on your to-read shelf. Read it soon!(less)
This is an extremely quick read, easily read in one sitting. What is amazing about this book is that it came out so early - in 1938, first in the maga...moreThis is an extremely quick read, easily read in one sitting. What is amazing about this book is that it came out so early - in 1938, first in the magazine Story! It is about the holocaust, the consequences of a few letters between a Jew in San Francisco and a friend in Germany. How did it happen that the Germans believed in Hitler? How can long term friendship be so quickly stamped out? And what could be the consequences of just a few letters?(less)
Tremendous writer who depicts war through the eyes of a child and then 10 years later through the eyes of a young adult. Mostly it is about war and lo...moreTremendous writer who depicts war through the eyes of a child and then 10 years later through the eyes of a young adult. Mostly it is about war and love and imagination and all the opposite things you can imagine. I loved the imagination of the writer. A totally new writing style that I loved.(less)
Having read through 185 pages and disliking every minute spent with the book, I am stopping. All of my criticisms remain. Fallada wrote this book in 2...moreHaving read through 185 pages and disliking every minute spent with the book, I am stopping. All of my criticisms remain. Fallada wrote this book in 24 days. It shows. IF SOMEONE WANTS TO READ THIS BOOK - CONTACT ME, MAYBE WE CAN SWAP bOOKS!
P.S. I went back and reread the Kirkus review. I should have read the review more carefully. It is clearly stated that the characters are "archetypal to a fault". I recommend that carefully read Kirkus's review. Here follows a link to that review: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/book.... It is found at the bottom of the page.
I am on page 172 and I thought I just cannot stand reading more of this book...... then I went and looked at the book description and noted that 22 of my GR friends have this on the to-read shelves. Of the four of my friends who have read the book, one gave it 5 stars and three others gave it 4 stars. The average rating is 4.11 with 728 people having read the book! And I really hate it. Now I am thinking I simply must finsih reding it to give a complete report of my views. If I stop now, I haven't given the book a fair chance. So I will continue but the following is what I am currently thinking.
Nobody can say that his author has a way with words. The writing is just plain ordinary. The characters are primarily despicable, so it is logical that their language is too. I must accept that. However I do not believe that despicable people have to be described by means of a flat text. Their is no sarcasm. There is no humor. There is no irony. The text is just plain flat.
Fallada want to draw a picture of the fear that dragged all Germans down under Hitler's regime. We are to understand how the German people suffered too. I have no problem with that; they too suffered under Hitler. BUT there is NO discussion whatsoever about how originally the Germans in fact looked at Hitler as a person who would bring order to their life and economy. There is not a hint of this in the text.
The primary couple in this book are trying to revolt in their own little way, and of course that is good, but but I thoroughly dislike the brutish way in which the huge majority of Germans are depicted. Some of these Germans were moral, good, just people. Other than the couple, I see none of these in this book. Every German official is depicted as a dumb clout. There is one jurist who tries to help a Jew and even he is drawn in negative contours. The fear prevalent in the German socity is made very clear. Most people didn't have the strength to fight this, but some did.
So what am I saying? I am saying that the picture drawn of the German population is done without insight or nuance. That is what I think now. I will continue reading.
Through page 86: What isit with me? This book has gotten rave reviews, and me - I keep falling asleep when I read it! I don't feel for any of the main protagonists and the writing is just plain ordinary. I hope it gets better.
And here is a quote from page 86 to show you what I mean:
"While Enno is trotting around the streets, timidly looking for his Tutti, Borkhausen has got up from his bed, gone to the kitchen, and savagely and broodingly eats his fill. Then Borkhausen finds a pack of cigarettes in the wardrobe, slips it in his pocket, and sits down at the table again, pondering gloomily head in hand."
"Which is how Otti finds him when she returns from the shop. Of course she sees right away that he's helped himself to some food, and she knows he didn't have any smokes on him and traces the theft to her wardrobe. Apprehensive as she is, she starts an argument right away. 'Yes, that's my darling, a man who eats my food and snitches my cigarettes! Give them back right now. Or pay me back for them. Give me some money, Emil.'"
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about life in Stockholm and Berlin leading up to and during World War II. The personal relationships of the author's gr...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this book about life in Stockholm and Berlin leading up to and during World War II. The personal relationships of the author's grandmother reflect on the growth of the women's rights movement in Sweden. Well written, engaging and interesting historical perspectives concerning Jewish life in Scandinavia at this time. Unfortunately, I do not think it is translated into English.(less)
If my own knowledge of history had been better I would have given it 5 stars....... Due to my ignorance, there were points where I was a bit lost. You learn not only about his travels and the landscape and the people he met on his journey, but also how history has formed all that he saw. He leaves from Holland, travels up the Rhine in Germany then down the Danube through Austria, Chezckolslovakia to Hungary - on foot, from December 1933 through March 1934. He is 19 years of age. You do run into the rumblings of the approaching war, but that is not the central focus. The focus is on art and literature and history and the people he met along the way. Both jails and mayors of the small villages and friends introduced by other friends offered him a bed and a meal. He stayed in beautiful castles along the Danube. He talked and talked with the people. You read this book and you want to do the same trip, but of course that is now impossible...... He does take one short trip on a barge and another trip by train with a friend to Prague. I particularly loved the intertwining description of the city, the art, the music and the history of this city. It would be worth it to pick up this book if you are only interested in reading the chapter on Prague!!!!
The writing style is fabulous. Here follows a quote after his stay in Prague when he was traveling near the Slvakian border to Hungary.
"My next call, only a few doors away, was a similar haunt of sawdust and spillt liquor and spit, but this time KRCMA was daubed over the window. All was Slav within. The tow-haired Slovaks drinking were dressed in conical fleece hats and patched sheepskin-jerkins with the matted wool turned inwards. They were shod canoe-shaped cowhide moccasins. Their shanks cross-gartered with uncured thongs, were bulbously swaddled in felt that could only be unwrapped in the spring. Swanp-and-conifer men they looked, with faces tundra-blank and eyes as blue and as vague as unmapped lakes which the plum-brandy was misting over. But they might just as well have been swallowing hydromel a thousand years ealier, before setting off to track the cloven spoor of the aurochs of a frozen Trans-Carpathian bog." (page 229-230)
In the chapter about Prague one finds the following text:
"The spires and towers recalled the earlier Prague of the Wenceslases and the Ottokars and the race of the Premysl kings, sprung from the fairy-tale marriage of Czech princess with a plough-boy encountered on the banks of the river. The Czechs have always looked back with longing to the reigns of the saintly sovereign and of his descendants and to the powerful and benevolent Charles IV - a golden age when Czech was the language of rulers and subjects, religious discord unknown and the rights of crown and nobles and commons and peasants all intact. These feelings gained strength during the Czech revival under the last hundred years of Habsburg ascendancy. Austrian rule fluctuated between unconvinced absolutism and liberalism soon repented and it was abetted by linguistic pressures, un timely inflexibility and all of the follies that assail declining empires, for knavery was not to blame. These ancient wrongs must have lost much of their bitterness in the baleful light of modern times when the when the only evidence to survive it is an heirloom of luminous architectural beauty." (page 149)
What I want to show by this quote is that the writing is very erudite. Be warned, the text isn't always light However there is so much that is just wonderful to experience through the accounts, reflections and diary notes. He is 19 when he travelled. He is a normal kid, drinking and seeing the towns and the world around him. The books are written many years after his travels. In the interim the author has matured and further increased his knowledge and ability to express himself. So the more knowledgeable and erudite the reader is himself, the more he will enjoy this book. It probably should be given five stars, but I gave it four. I am who I am. The four stars reflect how the book was perceived by me. (less)
An utterly amazing true story about an elephant, Mosie, and her trainer, Bram! If you like books about amazing animals and what they do - this is for...moreAn utterly amazing true story about an elephant, Mosie, and her trainer, Bram! If you like books about amazing animals and what they do - this is for you. Shipwrecks, fires, poisoning, terrorist revolutionary uprisings, teak forests, upspritualism and an anazing love story between one man and his elephant! This book is very plot driven. The bits on spiritualism didn't quite get me thinking.... I would say yup, I agree, and then that was the end. Nothing to ponder over. For example - one love never diminishes another love.
I don't quite know if I pick light books over Xmas b/c I know my emotions will be fully occupied with family matters - the result being that I never find fabulous books over Christmas. Don't get me wrong, this is definitely worth the time I spent reading it, and I do recommend it, but it is no thought provoking book! The writing is clear, but that is it! I wouldn't say it sparkled. Does every book sparkle? One thing annoyed me - there was no map and dates were sparse. For example where exactly were those teak forests and where was the maharaja's Elephantarium or what city was it near? I like to know this stuff
Before reading the book: I need to read something over Xmas that will grab me, usually my brain tends to stray! Check out the cover - can you see the little boy's hand around that elephant, the turn of the elephant's head, and the straightness of the little boy's back? A picture can say a thousand words.
PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THIS BOOK AVAILABLE BOTHAT AMAZON AND B&N!(less)
Having recently completed Ali and Nino: A Love Story and having given it 5 stars, I wanted to know more about the author. The author Lev Nussimbaum, b...moreHaving recently completed Ali and Nino: A Love Story and having given it 5 stars, I wanted to know more about the author. The author Lev Nussimbaum, born a Jew, used the pen name Kurban Said. Actually both this book and The Girl from the Golden Horn were registered under the author Elfriede Ehrenfels in the German Nazi document Deutscher Gesamkatalog for the years 1935-1939! Who was this guy?! Why all the different names? He left Judaism and converted to the Islamic faith. This was not motivated by the persecution of Jews under Hitler. He converted earlier. What motivated him? What life experiences formed him? You get all of this in this biography which is carefully researched by Tom Reiss. Basically Lev Nussimbaum continually reinvented himself, even when he was dieing at 36 years of age from Raynaud's disease.
However, this book is more centered on political science than this one man's life. Definitely more than half of this book is about political movements and history. I found the parts about Lev's youth in Baku, Azerbaijan, after the early exploitation of oil, the most colorful and wonderful. I had a harder time following the political topics. The more you know the easier it is to follow such topics. I have alot to learn. This book definitely taught me tons. You learn about how the Russian Revolution played out in the Caucasus, about the growth of fascism and communism and the effects this had on the people living not only in Europe but also Asia and the Near East. I knew little about Jewish Orientalists. Although I have studied the philosopher Buber, he and others like him were hoping that that Zionism would promote the oriental Jewish cause rather than just European Judaic problems. These issues affected who Lev Nussimbaum was as a person. He wrote 14 non-fiction books on political issues, one being a biography about Mussolini. He livesd 1905-1942. Born in Baku to a wealthy oil baron he escaped during the Russian Revolution via boat and camels to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey and Italy. He lived in Germany and Austria. He had to escape again from the claws of Hitler. How? Well most often, by reinventing himself - over and over again! He lived in the thick of the Russian and European turmoil. For this reason history was a real part os what shaped him. To understand him you have to understand the history of his time. A fascinating life! The book never dragged, but at times it was very difficult to follow all the political twists and turns.
I have two complaints. There is no map in the book and SOMETIMES I think Tom Reiss goes too far in trying to pinpoint WHY Lev did what he did. Sometimes a thorough analysis of a painting just goes too far. Let it be. Let the readers draw their own conclusions. (less)
I think everybody should read this book. When I began it I warned others that it is about rape in wartime. And that is true. Any subject in a good aut...moreI think everybody should read this book. When I began it I warned others that it is about rape in wartime. And that is true. Any subject in a good author’s hands can be worth reading. It is the ability of the author to make that subject comprehensible to readers that distinguishes a good author. We know now who the anonymous writer of these diaries was. Her name is Marta Hillers. The German writer Kurt Marek was responsible for the initial publication of the book in 1954, in the United States. The author was anonymous. Only later was it published in Germany. Only after her death in 2003 was it revealed who the writer was.
The book is based on the author’s diary accounts from the 20th of April to the 22nd of June 1945. It gives us a personal account of one woman’s experiences when the Red army occupied Berlin. Her story lets us understand what she and those around her experienced. What they lived through.
When I read this book I thought: I am being shown a world that I could never, ever imagine. It was beyond belief. The horror of it! Fear. Hunger. Being alone, completely alone. And it is hard to imagine that people can act as they do. It is important to read this book. We must acknowledge how people can behave. Yes, you and I can behave so deplorably too.
So then you will think, why should I read this? Why should I put myself through this? We must understand in our gut what has happened. A book like this makes us aware both in our head and in our stomach, both with clear thoughts and powerful emotions what another human being has experienced. And why is this important? It is important since it teaches us to not judge others. Before judging another you must put yourself in their shoes. This author has let us walk in her shoes. And the writing shows us how we human beings behave.
Yes, this book is about rape, but it is also about survival. It is about hunger too. The book begins with hunger and ends with hunger. How many of us reading this book has any real comprehension of being HUNGRY? Can we come to understand what we might do, what choices we might make if we were hungry as she was? You will understand her choices when you read this book. I will say it outright: in an effort to survive this woman realized that she needed to find a Russian that would provide her with food and safety. One’s chances of not being raped were minimal. If you are going to be raped anyway, why not make sure you get food in the bargain? By aligning yourself with a Russian of higher rank you could perhaps have him protect you from indiscriminate raping. But to understand the world she was living in you must read her words. When this book came out it was the women who were accused of bad behavior. The author was a survivor. I respect this woman. She was a journalist. She was well educated. She had traveled through Europe. She knew Russian. All of this is evident in her diary writing. She used her head and she survived. How can you look down on such a person? How can you criticize her if you have no idea what she has experienced?
You can only understand her choices by following her diary writings.
And the ending…. When her boyfriend comes back he doesn’t understand her actions. He too thinks she has degraded herself. We do not know if eventually they can bridge this incomprehension of what each has experienced in the war. I was so happy before her boyfriend came back. She had survived. I was so dam proud of her. I was crushed by his incomprehension. If he had read the book, he would maybe understand what she had gone through. If you read the book you will understand what she went through. If you read the book you will not judge others too quickly. I don’t think this book is terribly sad or depressing. I am so happy she survived. Dam, she is some strong woman, this author, Marta Hillers. She has let us see what happened to her. I admire her for surviving. I am so very glad she shared her experiences with us. I thoroughly understand her wish that the book have an anonymous author while she lived.
One does not read this book to find out if her boyfriend comes back. For this reason I do not think my telling you this is a “spoiler”. Only those of you wanting to understand another human being should bother to read this book. You have to want to get into their being. You have to want to become them in an effort to understand them and what they lived through.
There is a little boy at the end of the book who sees an old horse pulling a cart. He turns to his mother and says, “Mutti, can we eat the horse?” Earlier in the book another horse was still moving when he was cut into by hungry Berliners. Have you ever been that hungry? Do you have any idea how their world was? Do you want to understand their world? Read the book.
Be very careful before you judge another human being’s behavior.
I must add this. Although the subject matter is not light, the way the author expresses herself will make you smile. She calls herself the “automatic walking machine”, as she trudges to work….. This author can write. I wish I could copy parts of the book to show you, but I cannot use both Vocatex and Zoomtex at the same time. I need Vocatex to read the book and Zoomtex to write my review. When I am writing the review, I cannot read the book – so no quotes! This is so annoying to me. (less)