The Second World War -- the worst thing that ever happened. It began in September 1939, with Hitler's Wehrmacht invading Poland from the west, while Stalin's Red Army stormed in from the east. Among their victims was a five-year-old named Basia Deszberg. The Russians shot her father and brother in the Katyn Forest, then loaded Basia, her sister, and her mother into a cattle car for a horrific three-week journey to the steppes of Kazakhstan, there to survive as best they could. Over the next eight years, they would escape through Persia, Lebanon, and Egypt to find safe haven in England.By contrast, Daniel Ford grew up in a United States mired by the Great Depression. Europe's agony was America's windfall! Dan went from hardscrabble poverty to a college degree and a fellowship that took him to the English university where Basia too was a student. This is the story of their meeting, their travels, and their parting. It is, promises the author, both a love story and a history lesson, and one you will never forget. "An extraordinary book," wrote Cosmopolitan Review, "highly original, gripping, at once full of joy and of sorrow."
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Poland's Daughter: How I Met Basia, Hitchhiked to Italy, and Learned About Love, War, and Exile based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Emulating Plutarch, Daniel Ford has written carefully researched history and delightful biography using parallel lives; his own and that of a Polish refugee, Basia Deszberg. The mufti-lingual Deszberg family has given Ford a nearly unique opportunity to examine the non-English records of Poland's tragedy in World War Two and the years that followed. All this in addition to a romantic tale of a much younger Daniel and Basia's travels from England through France and into Italy.. As Ford says, for those of us who lived through the War, whether in the safety and prosperity of America or the terror and desperation of Eastern Europe, our lives were changed in ways that younger generations do not understand. A book for all seasons and generations.
I met Basia when we were students together at the redbrick University of Manchester, in the dreary northwest of England. I knew something of her incredible story at that time, when we adventured to France and Italy, and I learned the rest of it more recently when we reconnected after fifty-five years. In many ways, my life was the mirror image of hers. She started out as a member of an affluent Polish family that lost almost everything when the Russians occupied her home town -- her father and brother shot in the Katyn Forest massacres, and she, her sister, and their mother deported to Kazakhstan as "counter-revolutionaries." In time they escaped to Persia and eventually found safe haven in England, where Mama scrubbed floors for a living. For my part, I started out in poverty during the Great Depression, and every year that went by brought an improvement in my fortunes and that of my country. This is the story of how two children grew up in the Second World War, how we met, and how we parted.