Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dancing Under the Red Star: The Extraordinary Story of Margaret Werner, the Only American Woman to Survive Stalin's Gulag” as Want to Read:
Dancing Under the Red Star: The Extraordinary Story of Margaret Werner, the Only American Woman to Survive Stalin's Gulag
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Dancing Under the Red Star: The Extraordinary Story of Margaret Werner, the Only American Woman to Survive Stalin's Gulag

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  498 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
The shocking and inspirational saga of Margaret Werner and her miraculous survival in the Siberian death camps of Stalinist Russia.

Between 1930 and 1932, Henry Ford sent 450 of his Detroit employees plus their families to live in Gorky, Russia, to operate a new manufacturing facility. This is the true story of one of those families-Carl and Elisabeth Werner and their young
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 20th 2006 by Waterbrook Press (first published January 1st 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dancing Under the Red Star, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dancing Under the Red Star

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
An incredible story of surviving Russia under Stalin. Margaret Werner had the attitude that allowed her to stay alive in the most terrible conditions that she had done nothing to deserve. Living as a prisoner forced to do hard labour she became innovative, gained a faith in God and the ability to dance. This memoir shows it is never too late.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
I loved Tobien's account of the truly amazing life of his mother, Margaret Werner. The turn of every page was a constant reminder of how grateful I am to live in a free country. I admire her strength and resolve - how many of us could endure one intensely painful dissapointment, tragedy, etc. after another and not only have the persistence to go on living but also to be able to maintain a firm belief in a loving God?

We could spend a lifetime analyzing the better political system as it seems mor
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book! Stalin's reign of terror is probably one of the most overlooked parts of modern history. Twenty-seven million people were killed during the time of forced labor camps in Russia. The story is heartbreaking but also so full of hope and faith. I dare anyone to complain about their life after reading this story. Should be required reading for everyone!
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Art by: East Grand Forks Campbell Library
God works in Mysterious ways!
Here is a story about a forgotten American who lived through the Gulags of the Soviet Prison system under Uncle Joe Stalin and how God moved on her behalf.

Thought of the movie and book, "China Cry" 1990 movie.

We don't realize how good we have it here in America and what horrors the rest of the World have went through.
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great story of heroism.
Mar 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Side Note: If you can help it, try not to read too many books about death camps too close together. It can get very depressing and then, even worse, you could become numb to the suffering.

My friend let me borrow this book at the same time that she lent me Unbroken, and I was cautiously optimistic about it. But it was a mistake to read the two so close together because I couldn't help but to compare the writing, and Dancing Under the Red Stare, sadly, could not compare.

Karl Tobien, the author, is
Jun 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, russian, ww2
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm very torn on how to rate this book. On the one hand, it is a story that deserves to be told. And it covers material that is little discussed by historians. On the other hand, this is NOT an academic history. At all.

The story revolves around Margaret Werner who went to Gorky with her father in 1932 so he could work for the Ford created factory there. Because of The Terror her father was arrested and died in the Gulag system. Later, Margaret was arrested and served her ten years in Siberian wo
Jan 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
I didn't even know this happened! So much for history class. Great book, very informative.
Jun 07, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the memoir of a woman who, as a young girl, moves with her father and mother from Detroit to Gorky, Russia. It is 1932 and the father decides that the family should escape the Depression and move with other Ford Motor Company employees to work in the Gorky factory. Under the reign of terror instituted by Joseph Stalin and his minions, the family suffers for years under deprivation, false arrest and imprisonment, and other atrocities.

The only good thing I can say about this book is that
Jul 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
Wow...what an interesting story and one that is true! After reading this, one can truly appreciate all the things we take for granted. The writing is just *fair* but the subject matter is definitely worth the read. I had no idea Henry Ford sent over Americans to help Stalin develop automobile factories, what is worse the Ford company did not follow up or help them!???! Note: author expresses his religious bias.
Argyle Doll
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a sad, but magnificent tale about a woman's faith and the struggle to maintain it in harsh conditions. I can't imagine the hardships this woman faced, but despite all the ugliness she kept her head up, trusting in god which ultimately got her through Stalin's gulag. Very inspiring, I highly recommend it!
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was such an amazing TRUE story of survival. It's also a story that most have never heard of. Who knew that Ford had Americans in Russia and never helped save them? Sheer will and through God's faith Margaret Tobien survived. Read the story and learn more...
May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Amazing story of an American woman who moved with her family to the Soviet Union in 1932, grew up there, was arrested in 1945, and spent 10 years in hard labor camps in Siberia. Contains many details about the gulag as well as Margaret's own story of survival and faith.
Caity Murray
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History Buffs and fans of biographies
This book was an interesting biography of a woman who lived through being a prisoner of a Russian Gulag during Stalin's reign. I found it so amazing how she could stay strong and not give up hope of one day being free.
Shauna Hruby
Jan 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Another of my book club books. Very good read--true story of a American girl growing up in Stalinist Russia, and her incarceration and eventual release from the Siberian Gulag. Harsh and brutal, yet full of hope and faith as Margaret develops a belief and relationship with God.
Neven strmski
very inspirational and interestinig history of Stalinist Russia
Nov 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
I had no idea these atrocities happened to American citizens without America intervening.
Jul 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
who would have thought this lady was a Christian.
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent book. Very moving, with simple and eloquent language. Really makes you appreciate all you've got.
Jun 14, 2007 rated it it was ok
Not well written, but interesting perspective on the Russian gulag.
Jun 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Valerie by: Book Club
Thought detemination and finding her own faith, Margaret Werner'life story is inspiering.
Faith Tyler
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Faith Tyler
honors English

Dancing under the Red Star was a beautiful, touching, and heartwarming story about an American Citizen who gets caught in the mitts of the Russian Revolution. She slowly tries to make her way back to America. She lived through Stalin’s rule in Russia as an American and at one point a political prisoner. The book was written by her son, Karl Tobien. He wanted her story to be told and to be passed on. Karl wanted her story to be told. He wanted people to see the journe
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story! A real page turner ... for me. I give it 6 stars for the story and 4 for the writing. This was authored by Margaret Werner's son, who is a decent writer but no prize winner. But what the writing lacks in style is easily compensated for by unique glimpses into life in Stalinist Russia during the Great Terror, where millions of people were sent to the Siberian Gulags on political charges. Margaret, a young woman who came to Gorky as part of a Henry Ford's agreement with Stal ...more
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
A surprise read, this book has been sitting neglected on my shelf for a couple of years. How glad I am that I finally picked it up to discover a gripping story of an American survivor of Stalin’s Gulag. Margaret Tobien’s story is told in the first person in this account authored by her son Karl. Frankly, I don’t know where to start extracting from among the nuggets of this story, so I will string out some of the experiences that will continue to both haunt and inspire me.

Ford Motor Company shipp
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
fantastic, I cried, I became greatful for what I have, I cried more, then laughed a bit. the negative reviews are based on two things for the most part- 1)poor writing, it seems he transcribed verbatim her oral history. my personal opinion? Who gives a shit. the message is delivered with simple, direct, and clear wording. 2) he shares about christ- alot. i enjoyed it, it was a glimpse at the Christian faith ive never seen and found it beautiful and heartwarming. 5/5 *'s
Carrie Scruggs
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow what a life! This story really changed the way I feel about ford motor and now I want to go research for more information on their part of all of this! I honestly had no idea that any Americans spent time in the gulags! I had read some other books that went into more detail about the conditions and hard labor that I do feel this book skimmed over but her story is amazing non the less!
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Harrowing story about an American young woman's experience in Stalin's labor camps. Henry Ford abandoned the workers he sent to Russia to run a factory, and the American ambassador was too busy acquiring artworks to help those who were unjustly imprisoned, most of whom were worked/tortured/starved to death.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Little known history.
Liz Neale
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Between 1930-1932 Henry Ford sent 450 of his Detroit employees and their families to live in
Gorky, Russia to operate a new manufacturing facility. This is the true story of one of those families.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Man Is Wolf to Man: Surviving the Gulag
  • The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB
  • Eight Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse
  • The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive & the Secret History of the KGB
  • Is Journalism Worth Dying For?: Final Dispatches
  • The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia
  • The Party and Other Stories
  • Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB
  • The Russian Revolution: A Very Short Introduction
  • Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s
  • Hope Against Hope
  • Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects
  • Out of the Black Shadows: The Amazing Transformation of Stephen Lungu
  • The Great Terror: A Reassessment
  • The Atlantic and Its Enemies: A History of the Cold War
  • A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson
  • Too Far From Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space
  • Among the Russians