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All Ships Follow Me: A Family Memoir of War Across Three Continents
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All Ships Follow Me: A Family Memoir of War Across Three Continents

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  21 reviews
In the spirit of Susan Faludi's In the Darkroom and Edmund de Waal's Hare with the Amber Eyes comes an engrossing, epic saga of one familys experiences on both sides of World War II, questioning our notions of victim and perpetrator and the lasting effects of war and trauma through the generations of one family.

In March 1942, Mieke Eerkens father was a ten-year-old boy
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Picador USA
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Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Mieke Eerkens family is in the unique position of being caught in strangely opposing positions during World War II. Her father and his family were interned by the Imperial Japanese Army on the island of Java for almost the entire war. Her maternal grandparents were members of the National Socialist Party of the Netherlands. In All Ships Follow Me, Eerkens tells her family stories and shares her anxieties, concerns, and questions about her heritage as the child of a colonialist and the ...more
This book is both a biography of Eerkens' parents, and a memoir about her time spent researching their lives during and after World War II. As children, each of her parents had fairly unusual experiences during and immediately after World War II. As a child she always knew there was something "wrong" with her family, and this book is the result of trying to understand her father's experiences as a POW and the actions of her maternal grandfather.

Her father survived Japanese POW camps, and her
Donna Bijas
Finished Category #22. All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens, the granddaughter of an interned concentration camp survivor in the Dutch East Indies and a on her mother's side, a Nazi sympathizer. Compelling story about her parents, family, lives, etc. I was unaware that Japan occupied Indonesia during the war and many citizens became POW there; however, they were never granted reparations as those who suffered in Nazi camps in Europe. The writer sums it up perfectly (about war) "where do I place ...more
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book, learned something new about the Holocaust.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very well-thought and descriptive, but I had to agree with the NPR reviewers sense of ambivalence about recommending this book. ( Definitely thought-provoking and of particular interest to read a colonial perspective of the Indonesian revolution. However, at the end it was hard to find too much sympathy for the parents despite their traumas when cast in comparison with others (the acknowledged victims of colonialism and genocide) during the WWII. ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book started really promising and she is clearly a talented writer. The book is plagued, however, by the sense that her point seems to be white people suffer too. I have no doubt her parents experienced trauma - but it seems she uses the story of their trauma to limit her own empathy; she argues that her familys suffering needs to be acknowledged yet she seems convinced that other groups trauma are fully acknowledged and recognized - a claim I find incredibly doubtful in the United States. ...more
Wan Peter
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Wan Peter by: Michael Tan
Compelling, and well written, and full credit, strongly recommended memoir.
Sophie Poldermans
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very moving and powerful! This is an astonishing family memoir set during the Second World War and its aftermath, in which the author takes up the courage to shed light on all facets of war. Eerkens takes us on a personal quest for identity, being incredibly honest and brave when it comes to asking herself the question where she comes from, exploring the footsteps of her parents. Important reading showing us that when it comes to war and humanity, there is no such thing as black and white, but ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Zeer indrukwekkend boek over familiegeschiedenis tijdens en na de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Over overleven in een Jappenkamp en overleven in NL zonder je ouders die ineens gearresteerd zijn. Twee verhalen die bij elkaar komen en die je aan het denken zetten over trauma, schuld en onschuld en hoe dat doorwerkt in kinderen.
Mooi hoe persoonlijk het is geschreven. En hoe trauma in kleine dingen zit. En hoe belangrijk het is persoonlijke verhalen te horen en te delen, zodat we voorbij onze oordelen
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I could not put All Ships Follow Me down when it arrived in my Kindle queue. It is beautifully written, handling complex, complicated topics with an emotion and depth I rarely encounter. I cried intensely, I laughed, I reflected on humanity both good and bad. At the end of the day today and with too little sleep last night from reading so long, I am left with a profound sense of compassion for others. Mieke Eerkens reminds me what a powerful art writing is, making subjects like war and trauma ...more
Jill Paulson
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I really enjoyed this book! I have read a lot of WWII fiction and memoirs and never come across anything quite like this very interesting combination that highlights the two very different perspectives of Dutch citizens (the parents of the author) and the impact that their unique war experiences had on her own life and those of her siblings. It was eye-opening as I learned a great deal about elements and actualities of the war that I had no idea about before and very thought-provoking as well in ...more
Sheri S.
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This book tells the story of a family impacted by WWII and the atrocities that took place during that time. It specifically focuses on two families, one from the Dutch East Indies and another from the Netherlands, before and then after marriage unites the two families. It was interesting to read the family's history because it's from a different perspective than I usually read. The author addresses how the war impacted the lives of her grandparents and parents (what they went through, decisions ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A hard look into the role of NSB members in the Netherlands, as well as the experience of those in the camps in Indonesia. I enjoyed how she wrote the book, and also delved a bit into the psychology of her parents and their experience, and how it affected her and her siblings and those with the same experience.
Gundeep Singh
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cheryl-favs
So moved by this book! Beautifully written, grappling with the complex questions who is right and who is wrong. Mieke makes us wonder how and why we choose to accept the simple narratives told to us by surroundings while the deeper truth is always a lot more complex.
Thanks for writing this book. Highly Recommended.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Really interesting and moving memoir, but definitely not as exciting and lyrical as the Hare with the Amber Eye.
Nancy Hollingsworth
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting details and perspective.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, reviews
All Ships Follow Me is a biographical account of Mieke Eerkens' grandparents' experiences during World War II. On one side, a Dutch boy in a concentration camp in the Japan-occupied Dutch East Indies. On the other side, a Dutch daughter of a Nazi-sympathizer in the German-occupied Netherlands. Both were victims of the war in different ways, and the book is Eerkens' attempt to reconcile what it means to be a victim even when the rest of the world sees you as the villain. Some of the other ...more
Jen Williams
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent memoir about parts of history that are rarely discussed.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A well crafted book!

A well written and compelling read with great characters and a captivating historical backdrop. Authentic and well paced as well. A highly recommended read.

Colleen Chi-Girl
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Aug 27, 2019
Caroline Lumb
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Apr 14, 2019
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Oct 24, 2019
T Freer
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Sep 13, 2019
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Mar 21, 2020
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Jun 10, 2019
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May 03, 2019
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