Cave Creek, AZ USA | Member Since 2014
Not as a true story. This story is too contrived. Overall it's a good emotionally charged read. I just don't believe it as an actual account. I can't find anything about Sara Tuvel Bernstein except as it refers to this book.
Just call it what it is - FICTION! I don't doubt that Ms. Bernstein suffered some oppression at the hands of the Nazi's. I just don't believe that she was the only survivor among millions to have the kind of resolve - and luck - that she claims in this book.
Wanda McCaddon is masterful as always.
Only if you think of it as either fiction or a historical account in which the author has taken considerable literary license. The story IS moving and inspiring - it's just not believable.
I've read all of the reviews both here and on Amazon.com. Only one other reviewer feels like I do. I know I'm going to take a lot of flack for this, but I wish someone had given me a less emotional review of this book. I'm black and I'm used to Jewish friends claiming to "understand the pain of slavery". Well, no! "Your blues ain't like my blues"! But I always read books about Holocaust survivors out of respect for THEIR plight. However, there was something just not right about this account. Sara seemed to always have the answer or solution to some really horrific situations while her reaction to the deaths of her family members, one by one, was like "Ho hum!" I just didn't believe that one person in millions had the survivor instincts that this writer claimed to possess. It's easy to say you've done this and that when there's no one to refute your assertions.
The story is well-written and well narrated. But when you "pull the seams apart", it just doesn't fit. There's no way to fact-check the claims of the author. Plus, she was only in that concentration camp for a few months right before the war ended. I found her account of her early life and the years leading up to her so-called "arrest" much more interesting. Living like a hunted animal with no country to call "home" had to be awful. It's when she gets to the camp and on the trains that the story falls apart. Who can go WEEKS without water while doing back-breaking work? Or eight days without food or water packed into a boxcar like sardines? One minute everyone is freezing to death inside the boxcar, then in the same week, the train is sweltering from the weather outside. While the first 75% of the book tells an interesting account, the last becomes overly dramatic and predictable. And, again, I found Sara's total apathy towards the death of her family and camp friends bordering on sociopathic. Why? Because nobody died like she claims.
Notice that Sara is the only person who repeatedly manages to "save the day" by stealing, smuggling, or hiding enough food for her companions. Under those severe and harrowing circumstances, I know I wouldn't take up with a bunch of losers who never bring anything to the table to help in the survival of the group. When Sara is given a lice-ridden coat in the camp-wide clothing swap, she somehow gets one full of paper money hidden in the lining! And she just happened to have squirreled away a needle and thread in the tightly secured camp so she can rip up the lining to get the money, then sew it back up expertly. Really? As if all of those SS guards were too stupid to notice that the already thin garment just might be a little heavy or bulky! Then she and her friends used the money for TOILET PAPER for several weeks but, again, no one in the camp, prisoners included, noticed them "Benjamins" in the crapper! You haven't wiped your butt in months and that's all you could think to do with a large amount of money? C'mon!
What I DO believe is that some opportunistic writers saw a KERNEL of a good book after meeting a Holocaust survivor, likely in her dotage. I thought this book would be a first-hand account by an actual survivor who had gone through one horrific act after another during World War II as a Jew in occupied Europe. It turned out to be a compilation of everything that could happen to several people in a "perfect storm" of terror and persecution. Kind of like "Forrest Gump Meets The Fuhrer"! There's something that just didn't pass the "smell test" for me. I almost didn't write a review because I knew others would be upset with my reaction to this book or they would say, being black, I just don't understand the plight of Jewish people. That's absolutely not true. I sympathize and empathize with the hatred endured by Jews THROUGHOUT the history of the world. How could I not when my own ancestors were oppressed, murdered, beaten, lynched, and raped for centuries as recently as the 21st century? Here, I'll just have to take the hit because I'm calling "a spade a spade" - Sara is "shoveling" it a bit deep!
Here is yet another really depressing story about black people in this country who are doomed from birth. Alex Kotlowitz tells a compelling tale of 2 young children, Lafayette and Pharoah Rivers, trying to survive with their parents, siblings and peers in one of the worse project in the country - Chicago's Henry Horner public housing.
My parents also moved into the projects in Washington DC in the 1950s, the same time as the family of the mother of these boys. LaJoe Rivers and I are about the same age. However, I wasn't subjected to becoming the second generation of my family living in the projects after the country stopped caring about the inner city war zones created by the government. At the age of 8, my mother and father were able to move us into a single-family home in an upper middle class neighborhood, where I went to school with the children of DC's "black aristocracy" such as the late Dr. Earle Matory, high profile criminal defense attorney Theodore V. Wells, and Dr. Drew Tuckson. As a result, I went on to college and law school. But my parents were in a city where black people could find work - my mother as a civil servant in the federal government and my father in maintenance at Howard University. We weren't well off but we had food, clothing, and a clean home owned by my parents. My father's tenure at Howard enabled me to get a first class education, tuition free.
However, the young children in this book didn't have a chance, growing up in a complex controlled by rival gangs and abandoned by the city. Children were subjected to seeing their young friends shot down during open air gun fights in the wretched playground or killed in cold blood by over-zealous police officers. By the age of 14, the children of the Henry Horner projects had been to more funerals than weddings. Narrator Dion Graham is his usual magnificent self, giving us a great sense of the hopelessness and helplessness felt by young Lafayette and Pharoah, both really bright young children.
This book was made into a film in 1993 by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios. While I appreciate Ms. Winfrey's short-term interest in the appalling living conditions in her home town of Chicago, I'm question her motivation since she took the role of LaJoe Rivers, the boys' extremely beautiful and tiny but overwhelmed mother. With Winfrey looking just like a stereotypical "Madea" welfare mother with 8 children, I didn't really get LaJoe's frustration in having to raise her kids in such an awful environment. With her looks, in another situation, she might have been able to break the cycle of poverty. Unfortunately, like the critically acclaimed HBO series "The Wire" (which depicted a drug infested project in Baltimore MD - just 45 minutes away from the nation's capital - in which young black children were just thrown away like garbage, neither this book nor the film got much exposure. They are just too real and too embarrassing. These stories make white people uncomfortable. Accordingly, they would rather watch fantasy Mafia shows like "The Sopranos" rather than accept that our children are being raised in war conditions similar Iraq or Afghanistan.
Anyway, this book ends like all such stories of this kind. It is sad and disheartening to know that the most wealthy country in the world created, cultivated and perpetuated an environment where politicians made it impossible for these people to break free of a condition which is the same as slavery. Only now, black people are not making this country rich with the exportation of cotton, picked and baled on with the blood, sweat and tears of an enslaved, oppressed, raped, and murdered race. Even after freedom, blacks were denied the same rights as other citizens who came here more than 200 years after us. Now the United States has no use for us. Yet it refuses to accept the fact that it has bred a generation after generation of black men who either die before age 21 or who are incarcerated for life. This is a journey into the abyss for Lafayette and Pharoah.
I'm confident that many people won't like my review. But I always tell it like it is - from front to BLACK. However, as negative as my review may sound to the readers with selective liberalism, with intentional blinders on their eyes, and who want to hide with from the truth with their heads in the sand when it comes to what American is REALLY about, the end result is that this book is a keeper. Read it and weep....... I know I did.......
This is a story about 2 young women in London for the season, looking for husbands. Then why does the narrator sound like Miss Marple?!?! I couldn't finish it.
This is the 5th book in the series I've listened to. Well researched and masterfully narrated. I look forward to future books like this from CJ Sansome. A big thumbs up!
I thought this would be a more serious account of Empress Elisabeth but it's like a way too long fairy tale. The narrator is really bad. There are so many characters and accents, male, female and children, that it becomes confusing. Really awful "chick lit".
I expected more from the author of "Shuuter Island" - although, in that case, the movie is the rare example of being much, much better than the book. But this book made no sense at all. It's about a private investigator who somehow gets himself in a war with local black gang members. This is Boston, not South Central, but I have never seen, known, read about or had any knowledge of any black gang - much less black people - who act like we are depicted in Lehane's book. It's as though he's never met a black person in his life, much less a gang member. The interaction, dialogue and speech patterns are so wrong. Is this Lehane's fantasy idea of our people?. Surprisingly, the only likeable (?) and well-developed character in the entire book is an overtly racist redneck guy named Bubba!
Although I've always been a voracious reader, Jame Patterson never did it for me. Maybe because I started with one of the books in the Alex Cross series, "Roses Are Red". It took place in Washington DC and the main character, Cross, is black. I am black - born and raised in DC - a graduate of Howard University. I have a child who is a career police officer. Maybe it was just me, over-thinking it, and having way too much intimate knowledge, combined with the constant hype about the author, which caused me to not really be blown away by my first foray into the Patterson repertoire. But I hung in there and next tried "Violets Are Blue". It was actually worse! So I was done with James Patterson years ago!
However, I picked up this book in one of Audible's clever "Discover A New Series" promotions (which have cost me HUNDREDS of dollars in the past!). Here, we are presented with a male and female detective team, part of an "elite" task force, NYPD Red. I don't know how ELITE these cops are - they just seem to be doing their jobs, with the focus on the "1%ers" (and I'm not referring to motorcycle gangs). These cops waste much needed resources on the rich and famous in an era where police officers are over-worked and underpaid just trying to keep the peace among regular citizens. But, I digress....over-thinking again! For sheer LIGHT FLUFFY entertainment, this story was pretty good, although implausible in some places - kinda like a Marvel comic book. Nothing too intelligent, just a great ride. The plot line is thin but there are twists, turns, and surpises with well-crafted dialogue. There IS a co-author here, Marshall Karp. Ghostwriter? Protégé? Whatever - he does add a different, albeit subtle, component to the overall effort.
The narration is good, considering the different races, ethnicities and accents involved. My only complaint is with the head of the team, a black female captain who always talks like she's delivering Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. Just imagine Dr. King in line at Starbucks, ordering an expresso con panna, shouting "I'LL HAVE A CREAM!!!" Hey, Rev! We got you! 😄
This is not a story as exciting as many other police thrillers but if you want a "light meal" with that espresso, this book will satisfy you.
The author doesn't give us an objective account of the city of Chicago. He spends 24 hours telling us over and over and over again how fantastic, innovative, brave, beautiful, compelling, unique, unsurpassable, incomparable, etc. Chicago's history is, to the point where I just got sick of it. It took him 17 hours and 18 chapters just to get to 1893!
I would have liked to hear a more indepth account of the REAL Chicago, i.e., the slums, the immigrant population, the corrupt politicians, the renowned "red light" district, etc. How can you tell the story of Chicago and not have at least 3 hours about the famous high-class brothel, the Everleigh Club and its owners? What about the contributions to the fabric of the from the Polish and African-American communities? This book is all about the money-grabbing white upper-class with no regard for the common people who actually kept that city running every day. Servants, boot-blacks, coachman, ladies maids, streetcar drivers, butchers in the meat-packing district, the black porters in George Pullman's railroad cars, clerks, shop girls - THEY were the true blood of that city, yet each group was mentioned in passing while Heller literally brown-nosed every rich person he could think of.
He was alright but only because the book is so disappointing. He has the perfect Midwestern twang for a story of a city grown out of the prairie.
Heller totally disrespected the Native Americans who were cheated, raped, murdered and oppressed by whites who also dessimated the buffalo, prairie flora, and other wildlife. However, he did give a small history to the Kaskaskian tribe, ancestors of my husband and our children (they are of black Créole descent - a French Canadian trapper married a Kaskaskian woman, then they eventually settled in New Iberia, Louisiana where their son married his mulatress slave). I learned more about them here than in 10 years of my own research. Even then, Heller only mentioned the great people because of their help to the pioneers and missionaries like Marquette and Joliet. He doesn't tell us how the Kaskaskia and other indigenous Illinois people were wiped out due to not only senseless slaughter but also the diseases carried by the filthy unhygienic white men from which the Natives had no immune system. Heller made the Native Americans look like drunken ignorant savages when it was the whites who introduced liquor and guns to a race who had survived for centuries on their own.
The real problem with this book is the lack of objectivity, combined with the preening and fawning way the story is written. Chicago IS a great city, yet Heller makes it sound like the the younger child of a second marriage. For example.....Chicago's father's first children are London, Paris, Berlin, Venice, and Florence. His wife dies after those kids are grown so he remarries a younger woman who give him a new family: New York City, Boston, and Washington DC. Right before the father dies, his new wife has one last "change of life" baby that neither expected - Chicago. Poor fatherless Chicago spends his whole life trying to prove that he is as great and successful and good looking as his older siblings. But everyone wants to ignore his bad habits (gambling, whoring, fighting, cheating, corruption, murder) by insisting to everyone around that "Chicago is really a good boy in his heart. Why, this morning he actually picked up the poop dropped in the front parlor by his pack of hunting hounds." REALLY, CHICAGO!?!? Try Erik Larson's "The Devil In The White City" or "Sin In The Second City" by Karen Abbott.
I was very disappointed by this book. I thought the great Simon Prebble was narrating. However, once again, a book is ruined by the author narrating her own work.
I thought this book would be about the little known crimes in forensic history, combined with the added insight of an educator. Instead these are the same old stories that have been "done to death" (pun intended) in a century of written material and decades of shows like "Forensic Files" and "Unsolved Mysteries". It starts out with the most chewed on crime of all - Jack The Ripper. WHO CARES ANYMORE!? Even if investigators found a viable suspect, he or she died a long time ago, thereby avoiding earthly justice.
There are so many other crimes that could have benefited from a in-depth analysis by university professor. Instead she chose criminal events in which she could have done her research and due diligence with her feet up on the sofa, remote control in hand. No need to spend time in now-deserted library stacks when a "Forensic Files' marathon on Netflix or HuluPlus will "get 'er done". This method of classroom teaching is perfect to keep the attention of bored college students, only attending class to receive a barely passing grade. But any real true crime buff will not be satisfied after listening to hours and hours of crimes that we've already seen on television in 4 or 5 different depictions and reenactments. Same old stuff: Black Dahlia, The Brothers Melendez, Anastasia Romanov, the Tylenol poisonings, dirty cops, falsified evidence, police brutality, witness intimidation, coerced confessions, inaccurate eyewitness testimony, shoddy lab work, Russian double agents, etc., etc., etc. BLEH!
Professor Murray has a pleasant speaking voice but the production of the audiobook is not up to par - her frequent stumbles and stutters are not edited out. In the synopsis, we are promised a "look over the shoulder" of on site investigators. Yet we are given no more than we have all learned by watching "Court TV". Aren't we all now as proficient in pathology and forensics as Drs. Michael Baden, Henry Lee, Cyril Wecht, etc.? Nothing new here - PASS on it!
This is a fantastic story about what a black man can accomplish when someone believes in him.. I have a personal insight since I was a high school friend of one of the young men featured here: high profile criminal defense attorney, Theodore V. Wells. Growing up in the 1960s as an honor student with "Tokey" at Coolidge High School in Washington DC, I always knew he would be successful with his great leadership skills and personal charisma. Many of our school mates became top black lawyers and doctors. But I am blown away by Tokey's ultimate career accomplishments.
This story is a well-researched account of the outstanding journey of 5 young black men recruited by Rev. John Brooks during a racially charged period on U.S. history to achieve the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King. Brooks saw that a select group of black students got scholarships to a top university, kept his foot in their butts during college, and followed their subsequent careers while providing mentoring and support. For once we are not being treated to yet another "rags to riches to rags" story about a black man who was given a chance to do something great only to end up shot dead in a crack house. Tokey, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones and the two others in this book are proud examples of what can be accomplished with the help of people who really care about this country. Well done, Rev. Brooks! And, Tokey, I am so very proud of you!'
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