Posts Tagged With: wwii

Book Review: Outwitting the Gestapo by Lucie Aubrac – 3 of 5

Outwitting the Gestapo by Lucie Aubrac

outwitting

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lucie Aubrac was one kick-a, bad-a lady.

Germans on my doorstep? Whatever, I’ll just lie to their face.

Nazis capture my (Jewish) husband? NBD, I’ll just march up to Klaus Barbie and give him a piece of my mind.

Pregnant? Psh, I’ll go on raids and rescue missions until I start having labor pains.

Seriously, there’s a book (and I guess, a movie) about Lucie Aubrac (aka: Catherine, Lucie Bernard, Lucie Samuels, etc) for good reason. She did some incredible things as part of the Resistance in France in WWII. Add on top of it that this diary-style book captures the nine months of her pregnancy – when her husband is captured and she helps mastermind his rescue – and you have one hell of a story.

So why only three stars? Unfortunately, this book is a prime example of how poor writing can turn something as exciting as Lucie Aubrac’s life into a history book. I don’t know if Lucie’s writing style was a bit silted or (what I think is more likely) the translation was poor. Excitement comes across as corny and all of the events are discordant and often confusing. Everything felt like it was in fast forward. Before the emotions of fear or anxiety or hope could squeeze in the action had already changed. I ended up skimmed much of the end of the book.

I’m pretty die-hard when it comes to WWII memoirs – if you’re that way too, you may find this enjoyable. If not, I wouldn’t recommend picking it up. I think ti’s important to know who Lucie Aubrac is – do a little research – but, unfortunately, her memoir falls flat.

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Book Review: A Woman in Berlin – 5 of 5

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary by Anonymous

berlin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book. Just wow. I don’t know what it is about WWII stories, but I love them, and this one is no exception. There are so many things that make this a must-read. It’s a side that we don’t always see when it comes to WWII literature – this diary takes place in Berlin, from the perspective of a German woman, as the Russians come in. It’s only been in recent years that we’ve really started to hear about the horrible things that happened in Germany, to Germans, because of the war. This gives the reader just one horrifying glimpse.

This book is by anonymous. This woman was having a hard time dealing with what she knew would be her fate and started to write it all down. She was some kind of journalist, or in publishing, before and must have found writing comforting. She chronicled her life as the Russian victors came in and took what they wanted – namely the beds of every female. It’s a story about survival. She chose one path to stay alive and she made note of the paths others took. She wrote about what went right and what went wrong, she wrote about being hungry, about not having light, about not being safe, about where life might go. This diary feels like it was written from the soul and it’s amazing that we can all now read it.

It’s not just about the occurrences of the days. It about some of the fascinating things she mentions. She hypothesizes on why the invaders rape, why they choose who they do, why they have to be drunk, how the community reacts to the rapes, how the ration cards can still be so organized – any number of things. She talks about grander ideas of war and masculinity –

“These days I keep noticing how my feelings toward men – and the feelings of all the other women – are changing. We feel sorry for them; they seem so miserable and powerless. The weaker sex. Deep down we women are experiencing a kind of collective disappointment… Among the many defeats at the end of this war is the defeat of the male sex.”

It’s just such a great, short, chronicle of a horrible time in history. Highly recommend for everyone, but especially anyone who is fascinated with WWII.

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