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Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife
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Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,508 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
“A definitive, deeply moving inquiry into the life of the young, imperiled artist, and a masterful exegesis of Diary of a Young Girl…Extraordinary testimony to the power of literature and compassion” –Booklist (starred review)

In Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, Francine Prose, author of Reading Like a Writer, deftly parses the artistry, ambition, and enduring
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Harper (first published September 16th 2009)
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Moira Russell
About the first half of the book is devastating -- detailing Anne's life, her writing, her death, her book, her afterlife. Then Prose writes about the dramatic and cinematic adaptations of Anne's diary, and that's horribly hilarious. The last section of the book isn't as well-structured -- she leaps from Holocaust deniers to school challenges to how to teach the diary -- and depends way too much on the internet (a lot of it is already badly dated: Yahoo message boards?). But the rather lyrical e ...more
Lisa Vegan
Sep 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who has read any edition of Anne Frank’s diary; those interested in writing
This is a must read book for anyone who’s read and appreciated Anne Frank’s diary in any of its published forms.

I am now eager to read the critical edition of the diary, which includes the revisions made by Anne in her last months before her capture; all 3 versions of her diary are included.

The only edition of the diary that I’ve read is the copy I have that I first read when I was eleven. I would have appreciated it so much more if my first reading had been at age thirteen, but my mother was ea
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
How helpful is a review when the reviewer is already predisposed to the subject? From the time of my first reading of Anne Frank's diary when I was a young girl, I've been fascinated by its author's voice and by the fact that the diary even exists, surviving against the odds.

From my adult reading of the so-called definitive edition of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, I arrived at some of the same conclusions Prose did. Though I never actually articulated to myself, though Prose does, that
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was so pleased to be a first reads winner of this book, and am happy to report that it is indeed a worthwhile and absorbing read, one I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about Anne, the context in which her diary was created, and the social history of the cultural phenomenon the diary has become.

Francine Prose states clearly her belief that Anne Frank was a genius, and she makes a convincing case. Most interesting to me was the section on the writing of the diar
Jul 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
I can understand why HarperCollins was a little nervous about this book: Prose does not play into the cult of Saint Anne. Rather, she looks at the "diary" (which, according to the evidence, was as much a literary creation - edited, reedited - as it was a documentation of Anne's thoughts and life) as the work of an author learning her craft under extraordinary circumstances.

The version I read, and the stage play I saw, in junior and high school are not the version that Anne wrote. Back then, who
May 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Most of it was fascinating. I felt Prose handled Anne Frank's life very well. I love the sections that discussed Anne's actual writing. Those were engrossing. And I like the part where she discussed even the negative legacy of Frank's work.

It was the parts about the play and the movie where I felt she got bogged down. She discusses Meyer Levin's involvement with the play ad nauseum and the actors in the original Broadway production -- none of whom I was familiar with. She could have used some ph
Neil Coulter
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Last year I read The Diary of a Young Girl for the first time, motivated by the fact that my son will be acting in a school production of the play (which I finally get to see very soon!). What I enjoyed more than the original book, actually, are some related titles I read that delve deeper into the surrounding historical context. In particular, Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary and Miep Gies's Anne Frank Remembered were fascinating and beautiful.

Francine Prose's Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Af
Oct 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was ten years old when I saw the play The Diary of Anne Frank on television. My mother explained beforehand that Anne had hidden from the Nazis with her family, but was discovered and sent to a concentration camp. I could tell by the way she said this that this was a sinister thing, but wondered what could be so dreadful about a camp where they made you think hard.

The play must have made a deep impression because for Christmas, my father gave me a copy of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Neil Mudde
Nov 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having recently traveled to Holland and visiting Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam, then reading this book I am amazed at the goings on that happened after the diary was discovered left behind by Anne, saved by Miep who took care of those in hiding, by risking her life, and providing food etc.
Ms Prose tells us about how Miep gave the diary to Anne,s Father Otto Frank who realized Anne had written this with the intent of having this published, no doubt at the time of writing she would not have dreamed
Oct 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who has read the Diary
I enthusiastically recommend this examination of and discourse on Anne Frank as a writer, the extensive literary merits of her Diary, the effects of the play and movie adaptations, and on teaching the Diary. Prose is passionate about Anne and the Diary and she shows her opinions alongside her impressive research. I thought I already knew quite a bit about Anne and the Diary, but I learned so much more with this book.

I'll save my specific Diary thoughts for my upcoming re-read and review of it.
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-books
This is a badly needed and tremendously well-done examination of Anne Frank, her book, adaptations of her book, and her place and influence in our society today. I was worried at first at what tone the author might take--there have been enough sappy sentimentalists writing about Anne and "people are really good at heart" and yet I did not want to see DAF ripped to shreds and left to die, either. Prose has found a wonderful balance between the needed criticism and a basic admiration for Anne as a ...more
Dec 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Prose's book revisits Anne Frank and her legacy, positioning herself from a perspective that takes Frank seriously as a writer, rather than, as the myth tells us, a precocious schoolgirl whose diary was a mere lucky accident of history. As Prose makes plain, Frank approached her writing from the beginning as a deliberate craft; she anticipated it being published after the war and she intentionally revised it and amended it for a broad public. Prose writes:

"Like most of Anne Frank's readers, I h
Oct 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Three stars is maybe a little harsh, but half-stars aren't an option here and as the second half of the book (focusing on the play and movie versions, including all the backstabbing and intrigue involved) gets muddled and bogged down, I can't quite bring myself to give it four stars.

Prose shines in her analysis of the Diary itself, including Anne's maturation as a writer, the rewrites, and Otto's handling of the material when it passed into his hands after the war. Focusing on Anne the writer (a
Oct 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
In this book Francine Prose reveals what is likely a surprise to many of us who have read the book published as Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl - it is not, strictly speaking, a diary (i.e., entries written in chronological order and faithfully retained as such). Anne Frank furiously rewrote her original diary entries, beginning a few months before her family was discovered by the Gestapo in the Annex in which it had been hiding, in the hopes that her diary would someday be published. Otto Fra ...more
Alex Templeton
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was fantastic, and fascinating. It not only appeals to the reader (such as myself) who is interested in Anne Frank, but who is also interested in the appreciation of talented writers, with a little human psychology thrown into the mix. Before I read this book, I did not know (or, at least, did not remember from any prior reading that I'd done) that Anne had done many revisions on her diary, in the hope that it would able to be published as a historical document of wartime, once the who ...more
I was never assigned The Diary of A Young Girl in school - I either picked it up myself or a teacher suggested it to me, right around fifth grade. And my fascination with Anne and her circumstances, with the differences between her tiny world and the world-changing events surrounding her story, and with the lessons we can take away from her words, has stuck with me ever since.

Perhaps it's because I read her diary outside of an academic setting, but I've never thought about it as a literary clas
Dec 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history, wwii
I'm surprised that this book has received such a warm reception. Prose does a good job of pinpointing the editorial decisions that made Anne a great writer. The side-by-side comparisons of the different versions are enlightening. However, it's also abundantly clear that Prose lacks that eye for style that she so reveres in Anne. The book bumbles along with thoughts introduced and then left in the wind as Prose picks up some other unrelated idea about Anne's words. At times, I found myself disagr ...more
Apr 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Prose discusses Anne Frank's life, her work as a writer, the versions of her diary, and what happened after the publication of the diary. Prose is at her best when discussing Anne as a writer; I didn't know about the various versions of the diary, or that Anne had revised it (which seems somewhat obvious, in retrospect).

The sections on the play get bogged down with details about the controversy about the writing; Prose acts as though the reader of the book is already familiar with the people in
Elliot Ratzman
Mar 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Anne Frank’s Diary “even more mysterious and fundamental than Augustine’s…the conversion of a child into a person” (Philip Roth). Read it in junior high? Saw the play? Forget all that, read this book, a fascinating review of her life, the writing of the diary, and its afterlife. The author makes the strong case for Anne Frank’s talent as a writer and for the diary as an important work of art. Anne Frank revised the diary for publication after they hear on the radio the Dutch government in exile ...more
Virginia Messina
Nov 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: holocaust
I’m a little surprised by how much I loved this book which is about Anne Frank’s family, her diary, the story of how it came to be published and the play and movies that were based on it. I expected the parts about Anne and the diary to be interesting, but not the rest of it. The book is just packed with fascinating information and insights, though. I put it down several times to check out videos on the web—those of the movie, and most compelling of all, the rare 10 seconds of footage of Anne be ...more
Nov 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Definitely an interesting and fast read, but it doesn't seem to add all that much to work that's already out there on Anne Frank. I usually love Francine Pros, especially when she's tackling nonfiction (her book on women that have acted as muses is one of my favorites). But this effort seemed mostly phoned in, as exemplified by her final chapter where she tells us about her students' reactions to Anne Frank. She gives a good sense as to who Anne Frank was as a writer, and that is the main contri ...more
Nov 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Prose presents an interesting perspective on Anne Frank as a writer. Most interesting, though, is probably her discussion of "the afterlife" of the diary. How the diary has been fought over, interpreted, and used for various purposes, as well as how it is taught in the US and in other countries, provides context for interpreting my own sense of the diary when I first read it in the 70s and how I perceive it now as a more educated adult. I would recommend this book for anyone who will ever teach ...more
This was a really interesting book. I had no idea there had been so much (forgive the pun) drama about the creation of the play based on Anne Frank's diary. The author definitely does not think highly of either version of the play, nor of the movie, but her love and regard for the diary comes shining through. This definitely made me want to read The Diary of a Young Girl and see how my response to it has changed now that I am adult.
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
It took me about six weeks, but I finally finished this one. It was very interesting, actually, to look at Anne Frank's diary as a work of literature. I thought Prose made a very cogent and convincing argument, though the section on teaching the diary in the classroom dragged a little. Worth reading.
Violet Bell
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Early on, Prose states the diary of Anne Frank has rarely been subject to analysis for its literary merits; so I was excited to read a study of the diary as a work of literature. Unfortunately the book deals with that in a chapter or two, before turning to a lengthy and at times tedious account of the publication history of the diary and subsequent plays and films.
Robin Tucker
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Francine Prose provides a close multi-layered look at one of my favorite works of literature. She offers critical analysis of the diary text (her own views and those of others) while providing relevant historical context. The "Afterlife" sections are especially interesting: how the diary came to be published and go on to become an international bestseller, how the diary was adapted for stage and screen, and how the diary is taught in the classroom. Ms. Prose does all this with a passion and deep ...more
Lynn Green
This book looks at Anne Frank's diary by describing Anne, the book, its publication as well as the play and film that came from its publication and public reception. The author also takes up the question on how the book could be taught.

The writer is very critical of the play and film though she feels the film was the better of the two adaptations.

Good resource material for teaching the book.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
An interesting coverage of the history of Anne Franks Diary - from understanding the author, to what happened after the Franks were captured, to getting the book published, the Broadway play, the film, accusation that the diary was fake, teaching the book in schools, you name it - everything seems to be here.
For me, some of the coverage was less interesting than others, and many of the topics are covered in more detail in other books, but I liked the passion the author has for the subject.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Fascinating! I didn't realise Frank had started revising her diary, fully intending for it to be published. I also didn't know about the many controversies of the adaptations. It's a really thorough look at the work of a writer, rather than a happenstantial publication of just a girl's diary.
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
The section about the play dragged a bit for me, but I actually really enjoyed this -- and it made me realize HOW MANY times I've read The Diary of Anne Frank (and watched the movie starring Millie Perkins) since I was eleven. And how much I still love it.
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Francine Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction. Her novel A Changed Man won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including ...more
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“Anne is remarkably restrained in calibrating the amount of fear she will admit into the diary. The air raids, the break-ins, and the brutality reported by the helpers and glimpsed from the window appear at regular intervals, so that the reader can never fully relax.” 2 likes
“Only a natural writer could sound as if she is not writing so much as thinking on the page.” 2 likes
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