Category Archives: Autobiography

Book List 2012

cf2

The list below compiles some of the books I have read in 2012. I am currently reading two books and expect to read a few more before the year comes to an end.

On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War, by Bernard Wasserstein

You, Fascinating You, by Germaine Shames

Prague: My Long Journey Home a Memoir of Survival, Denial and Redemption, by Charles Ota Heller

Rhyming Life and Death, by Amos Oz

An Uncommon Friendship: From Opposite Sides of the Holocaust, by Bernat Rosner

Who Shall Live: The Wilhelm Bachner Story, by Samuel P. Oliner

The Gates of November, by Chaim Potok

The Emperor of LIes, by Steve Sem-Sandberg

Italy’s Sorrow, by James Holland,

HIdden History of the Kovno Ghetto-United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany, by Marthe Cohn

Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl

The Iron Tracks, by Aharon Appelfeld

Wings: A Novel of World War II Flygirls, by Karl Friedrich

Jerusalem Maiden, by Talia Carner

I Shall Not Hate, by Izzeldin Abuelaish

Dinner With Lenny, by Jonathan Cott

Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII, Italy, the Nazis and a Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation by Ali McConnon

The Amber Room, by Steve Berry

Soul to Soul: writings From Dark Places, by Deborah Masel

To Heal a Fractured World, by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

The Zahir, by Paulo Coelho

The Jewish Husband, by Lia Levi

The Devil and Miss Prym, by Paulo Coelho

Simon’s Family, by Marianne Fredericksson

Away, by Amy Bloom

The Dogs and Wolves, by Irene Nemirovsky

The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman

The Island Within, by Ludwig Lewisohn

The Gift of Rest, by Senator Joe Lieberman

A Mind of Winter, by Shira Nayman

22 Britannia Road, by Amanda Hodgkinson

97 Orchard, by Jane Ziegelman

The Jewish Body, by Melvin Konner

Two Lives, by Vikram Seth

This is America!, by Henye Meyer

Three Horses, by Erri De Luca

Jewish Roots in Southern Soil, by Marcie Ferris

Saving Monticello: The Levy Family’s Epic Quest to Rescue the House That Jefferson Built, by Marc Leepson

Being Polite to Hitler, by Forman Dew

The House at Tyneford, by Natashia Solomons

Under the North Light: The Life and Work of Maud and Miska Petersham, by Lawrence Webster

Jewish Stories from Heaven and Earth, by Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins

The Promised Land, by Mary Antin

Joseph Anton, by Salman Rushdie

The Marriage Artist, by Andrew Winer

Unorthodox, by Deborah Feldman

Blackmore Park in World War II, by Fran and Martin Collins

Prague Winter, by Madeleine Albright

Rashi’s Daughters: Book III: Rachel: A Novel of Love and Talmud in Medieval France, by Maggie Anton

Rashi’s Daughters: Book I: Joheved, by Maggie Anton

City of Women, by David R. Gillham

The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian

The Polish Boxer, by Eduardo Halfon

The Violinists Thumb, by Sam Kean

Winter Journal, Paul Auster

The Little Russian, by Susan Sherman

The Woman Who Heard Color, by Kelly Jones

December 18, 2012 – 5 Tevet, 5773

© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

4 Comments

Filed under Autobiography, Historical Fiction, Memoirs, Non-Fiction, Novels, Photography

Review – Joseph Anton: A Memoir

josephanton Joseph Anton: A Memoir, by Salman Rushdie was an exceptionally fascinating, gripping and compelling memoir. The title, itself, was a necessary alias that Rushdie created from the given names of two of his favorite authors: Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.

When Rushdie was sentenced to death by the Ayatollah Khomeini after writing The Satanic Verses, it was necessary for him to go into hiding, and therefore, for him to change his name. He changed it on everything, from bank accounts to all important documentation.

From the moment I began reading Joseph Anton, I could not put it down. It was one of those reads where I was completely involved in the events and circumstances of Rushdie’s life in hiding.

He left no stone unturned in his relaying his ordeal. He was extremely concerned for his family members. He had a son named Zafar from his marriage with his first wife, Clarissa. He wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible with Zafar, and he and the British Secret Service were able to figure out ways to make it happen. Years later, he had a son named Milan with his third wife, Elizabeth. His public image was one of mixed feelings. People either supported him, or they decried him. They decried him over his book, they decried him over his choice to go into hiding, they decried him over the monetary expense it was costing England to protect him.

If it wasn’t for his some extremely close friends, friends of friends and other supporters, it would have been impossible for him to continue to hide for as long as he did. And, stay hidden he did, whether it was for one night, one week, one month or longer, he became the prey, and his life was no longer the life he knew or had control over. It involved a web of places to hide from his would-be perpetrators. His protectors became his life line, including the British Secret Police, who were with him through every step he took.

Rushdie’s life was no longer his to control. He was a prisoner, literally, within his confines. He was controlled by time and place, by police and constant hiding, by his refusal to apologize for his book. Some say, an apology could have avoided the circumstances he lived under, but who knows for sure whether it could have. And, the issue was far greater than an apology.

Rushdie felt, that as a writer, he should have freedom of expression. That was at the core of his thinking. That is what kept him going, kept his emotional state strong, and how he strove for freedom, freedom within the literary pages. He believed that writing was the bridge to cultural understanding, the bridge to empathy and sympathy for others outside their own boundaries. He felt that through his writing he could somehow contribute to the turning around of the mindset of bigotry and narrow minded perceptions. If his writing touched one person in a positive manner, than it served its purpose.

Rushdie wrote while in hiding, it didn’t deter his literary endeavors. In fact it heightened his commitment to write and kept him sane. He was in hiding for over a decade, and wrote throughout that time.

Throughout the pages one gains a sense of the man through his descriptions. He writes of pride, of anger, of arguments with police, friends and non supporters, he writes of his frustration in letters to editors of newspapers (often angry letters), he writes with humor, here and there, he writes in minute detail of his life, beginning in the land of his birth…Bombay, India. The reader learns about his parents, Muslims of Kashmiri descent. He, himself, is an atheist. But, his background and upbringing are constant visuals within the pages of his books.

One thing is evident within Rushdie’s memoir: He believed in himself, he fought for the freedom of written expression, he tried to evoke tolerance towards others in his writing-those not affiliated within one’s own religious boundaries or cultural borders. That he loved his family beyond words, is also clear.

I can’t say enough about Joseph Anton: A Memoir, by Salman Rushdie. It is extremely detailed, intense, fascinating, and written with honesty. It is intriguing, masterfully written with vivid word imagery. I highly recommend it to everyone.

© Copyright 2010 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

December 17, 2012 – 4 Tevet, 5773

2 Comments

Filed under Autobiography, Book Reviews, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Book Review – The Promised Land

the promised land The Promised Land, by Mary Antin,, is an exceptional book in many respects.

Mary Antin was a distinguished writer in her time, and her account of the immigrant experience is unique on several levels.

The first half of the book deals with her childhood in Russia, before emigrating. The second half describes her experience assimilating into American life, and her struggles with religion and daily interactions.

It was obvious to me that Antin projected two faces. One face is the face of her cultural background resulting from her upbringing in Russia. The other face is her face that she projects within her new environment in America, as she tries to settle in and not be defined as a “greenhorn”.

Although Antin seems to be a bit self-centered at times, I still feel that the book is an excellent resource into the immigrant experience. She is cognitive of her appearance, her attitude and her ability to show two sides of herself. That does not diminish the fact that she continues to interact in that manner. It is her way of assimilating into her external surroundings, and her way of retaining some of her cultural heritage at home.

Antin’s descriptions are filled with clarity, and considering the era in which the book was written, I found it to be an excellent example of an immigrant trying to find her way in a new land, a new cultural environment and world.

She was a fast learner, and she endeavored to be seen as an American in every facet. She shed her Russian background as quickly as possible, shed her accent as best she could, and succeeded in displaying herself naturally fitting into her new environment.

Her public education was her starting point, and from there she became involved in social causes. She rallied for the allies, she rallied for immigration rights, other causes, and her voice was a beacon for the immigrant.

The Promised Land
was a successful book for its time, and Antin revealed how a young girl managed to survive and respond to the new life presented her, and to the cultural situations she faced.

Some may find the book uninteresting, and find it to be lacking. I read it with the knowledge it was written in 1912. I found it to be a book written by a woman who realizes she is self-centered, and admits it within the pages. Yet, that very trait helped her gain footing and helped her to fit into her new surroundings. Therein lies the uniqueness.

Mary Antin
was was lauded for her writing, in her own life time.

I recommend The Promised Land for its important historical and cultural content. I found it to be a fascinating look into the assimilation experience.

© Copyright 2007 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

December 10, 2012 – 26 Kislev, 5773

4 Comments

Filed under Autobiography, Book Reviews, Judaism, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized