"The ornately painted Chinese Boxes loomed just out of reach throughout my childhood...but my brother and sister and I paid no attention. The twin, red boxes were part of the familiar-to-the-point-of-being-invisible landscape, like that big tree outside your window with a botanical name you never learn."
Sorting through her parents belongings after their deaths, Joanie Holzer Schirm discovered an extraordinary lost world. Hand-written on faded and brittle stationary, stamped by censors and military authorities, and neatly filed in those two lacquered boxes, were 400 letters from 78 correspondents-along with carbon copies of the letters her Czech father had sent to them during World War II.
"My father never mentioned that he planned to leave a magnificent gift," Schirm tells us, a "treasure trove" in which "I would come across the very souls of his cousins and friends. Many of the secrets cloistered by those bright and shiny Chinese boxes were ghastly. Lives lost, lives shattered. Friends abandoned. Lovers betrayed. The paths I followed beyond the letters made clear that guilt and grief continued to wound and sometimes cripple those who remained, long after the war was over." And yet the story that they ultimately add up to - a story that is as emotionally absorbing as a novel, as meticulously documented as the important work of history that it is - not one of mere survival, but inspiration.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I couldn't put this book down. None of us can fathom what these people went through during and after the Holocaust. Getting an inside glimpse of what was going through their minds, through such personal letters, is both heartbreaking and heartwarming...and so very inspirational. Everyone should read this book.
When all is said and done, the threads of our lives are wrapped in choices and the context in which they must be made. In blending a story of Europe at the start of WWII, Joanie Schirm achieves the delicate balance of vividly engaging the accelerating consequences of both choice and context. With the first-hand knowledge gained from 400 letters from 78 different engaged writers, Joanie has successfully conveyed the tone, the tenor and the fragile assumptions of the men and women struggling to redefine their lives when the very ground under their feet has shifted. These letters written and received by her late Czech father were unknown to her until after his death: all the while sitting in plain-view, housed in a family-familiar Chinese red lacquered box. Her book is a gift. One the eve of World War II in Czechoslovakia, given the times, given the circumstances, it begs the modern day question: what would you do? The answer may not come as easy as you may think. Based on their own words, Adventurerers profiles the paths of eight men and women and details the fears, hopes, comfort and advice they shared with one another, as relevant today as it was then. Adventurerers is a recommended pathfinder tool for any passionate and engaged world-citizen. Instructive lessons for any generation which will linger long after the pages of the book have been closed.