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Castles Burning: A Child's Life in War
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Castles Burning: A Child's Life in War

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  173 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
This steely account of a childhood on the run, first from the Nazis and then as a refugee in postwar Europe, serves as a fitting memorial to the author, who died in December 1996, shortly before the book was published. Magda Denes settled in America and became a psychoanalyst, which may explain her total lack of sentimentality about her youthful self. The fierce emotions o ...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published 1997
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Jun 09, 2012 Kalliope rated it really liked it

Dr. Magda Dénes, a Psychoanalyst and Psychotherapist practicing in NY, passed away suddenly at the end of 1996, aged 62. Her autobiographical Castles Burning was due to be published a couple of months later.

The book begins in 1939 in Budapest, as Magda’s father leaves for the US and abandons his family. They were a wealthy Jewish family of four. The narration advances fast onto March 1944 when the Nazis, who were already losing the war, occupied the city to prevent Hungary from changing sides. C
Magda Denes was five years old, in 1939, when her editor father abruptly abandoned his family, transferring all his assets to the United States.
The family was left with nothing.
Persecuted and then hunted, Magda was determined not to give way to despair (as she was taken around to different places of hiding and had to hide under floorboards, in an oven, and in a cellar) . She lost her brother Ivan, who was a rescuer for the Zionist youth movement Hashomer Hatzair. The Zionists rescued many Jews f
Martha Kelly
Jul 12, 2016 Martha Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended to me by my developmental editor Alexandra Shelley, Castles Burning did not disappoint. Told from a child's point of view, it brings the period so vividly alive and is poignant, heartbreaking and funny. Having read so many Holocaust books for research, this one really stands out--maybe because Magda was able to capture that voice of her youth so beautifully. It's non-fiction but reads like fiction. I still think about this book often.
Oct 27, 2009 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magda Denes was a Jewish child in Hungary during World War II. These are reminiscences (as opposed to a diary) of hiding in abominable quarters, hunger, escape, the kindness and cruelty of strangers and acquaintances alike, and the loss of family members. When people encourage me to attend horror movies, I suggest they read this book instead: nothing I've ever seen in a film horrifies me as much as what these people and this child suffered.
Aug 27, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book extremely moving and honest. The thing that really makes it stand out from other books set during the holocaust is that its such a vivid, at times even hilarious account of childhood. With the horrific and crazy events turning her family's life upside down we get a child's reaction to these events and her indignant, persistent desire to be treated like a human being and to evolve. One senses that the author avoids giving her account the tone of an adult recalling her childhood ...more
Andrea G.
Feb 09, 2017 Andrea G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este libro me recordó al Diario de Anna Frank. Magda nos cuenta las cosas que vivió durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial en Hungría como si lo estuviera escribiendo en su diario.

Las cosas que nos cuenta son muy duras, increíbles de creer que las haya vivido una niña. Varias de las situaciones en las que a veces se encontraba eran muy desesperantes, porque solamente podía permanecer sentado y esperar a que todo sucediera, sin poder hacer nada.

Hay momentos en los que el libro se vuelve un poco monóto
Jan 12, 2015 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It's all right to hope. In fact, it's essential. There would be no world otherwise." Just one quote from this moving, often funny, and always unforgettable memoir of a young Hungarian Jew during World War II. Magda, her mother, and brother were abandoned by her father just before war came to Budapest; left with her grandmother, aunt and cousin they must fend for themselves. This is their story, one of hiding, scrounging for food, their city devastated by both Allies and Germans, and their final ...more
Aug 12, 2013 Veronique rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazingly readable book about a very dark time in Europe's history. Denes recounts her life as a Jewish child in Budapest in the 1940s, from the days leading up to the war to the darkest moments in hiding. She somehow manages to make the book lighthearted at points, showing that even in times of war there is still humanity and love. A truly inspirational book with lots of passages I highlighted and plan to re-read for inspiration.
Irving Koppel

Denes' book regarding her war-time adventures in Budapest could have used a good deal of editing,
but in spite of that,with a little patience one can find a fascinating tale of life under the Hungarian
and German fascists as seen through the eyes of a most precocious child.
There are many better written tales of survivors of the Nazi occupation,but this one stands out for its
treatment of the Hungarian Jews
May 17, 2015 Raphaelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Earlier today someone reminded me of this excellent book. This memoir was written by a psychologist who perfectly captures her childhood perspective as Jewish child in Hungary during the Nazi era. The author died soon after the book's publication so it never got the publicity it deserves. I wish I could give it six stars!
Rex Cluff
Mar 06, 2013 Rex Cluff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book with a disappointing ending. Magda ends her story with her arrival in Cuba but that is far from the end of her troubles. Getting out of Cuba and into the U.S. would seem like a better ending but we don't know what happened after she arrived in Cuba.
Wartime Hungary - an adult woman remembering her experiences as a child - and what a character she was as a girl - so clear eyed and sarcastic I had to smile even though her experiences were terrible.
Feb 16, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great literary adventure through the eyes of a precocious child, who likes to tell it like it is. I always have respect for any person who has that quality and Magda is no exception. A tale of heroism, survival, betrayal, and coping.
I loved this book which I read to get some sense of Budapest as we were getting ready to travel there. It is a Holocaust Memorial but it is such a delightful and heartfelt perspective from a child grieving terrible losses that it made me wish the author would write a sequel.
Sharon Zink
Aug 31, 2014 Sharon Zink rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book leaped off the shelf at the library last Monday and yelled, "I'm next!" So happy for books to find me like that. This is the story of a Hungarian-Jewish girl who survives World War II, but not in a concentration camp. It is not a depressing story; it is funny in many places.
Mar 21, 2012 Catherine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is my favourite book of all time.
Jun 02, 2010 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
insightful, sad, and revealing.
Allie vernasco
Feb 26, 2008 Allie vernasco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Great memoir of a young Hungarian Jewish girl during WWII. She tells of her heartache from missing her family during various separations.
Jan 04, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1history, box5
Interesting narrative but not super informative. Less on detail than on emotion.
Jul 15, 2008 hillary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
hungarian girl's experiences during WWII
Apr 02, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing story!
Ann Costello
Feb 09, 2011 Ann Costello rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this. Fascinating childhood told well.
Margrit Belfi
May 20, 2014 Margrit Belfi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Van Bas gekregen voor mijn verjaardag
Leuk boek
Geestelijk vroeg rijp kind
Dec 03, 2013 Kerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best, most descriptive and compelling book about a young child's life during Nazi occupation of Budapest, Hungary that I've ever read.
Mar 19, 2014 Kimberley rated it it was ok
It didn't interest me like I thought it would have.
Jan 08, 2008 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and moving account of a jewish childs life in WWII.
Carla Seibel
Carla Seibel rated it really liked it
Nov 02, 2013
Katalin Eisenberg
Katalin Eisenberg rated it really liked it
Sep 26, 2012
John rated it liked it
Sep 04, 2012
Leslie rated it it was amazing
Apr 11, 2017
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