What would life be like for a black boy growing up in Nazi Germany? This unprecedented autobiography answers that question with the spellbinding true story of Hans J. Massaquoi’s life in Hamburg during the height of Hitler’s regime.
Hans is the son of a black Liberian diplomat father and a white German mother. His father returns to Africa at the beginning of the war, leaving them behind in poverty and without the means to flee. Bewildered, Hans is force-fed ceaseless anti-semitic and anti-African propaganda in his schools. Within this tense atmosphere, increasingly violent Nazi policies and Allied bombing raids make Hans and his mother’s lives a desperate day-to-day struggle for survival.
Through countless close calls, Hans perseveres by his ingenuity, strength of character and a liberal dose of good luck - eventually going on to find his father in Liberia and emigrate to America.
Peter Jay Fernandez’s intense narration brilliantly punctuates all of the tragedy and triumph in this monumental audiobook.©1999 Hans J. Massaquoi (P)2001 Recorded Books
I enjoyed Mr. Massaquoi's introspection, and his willingness to acknowledge his mistakes without beating himself up or excusing them. Things were the way they were, and- good, bad or ugly - everyone had to try and survive in nazi Germany even if one's race made them an obvious potential target.
I have never listened to his performances, but I will definitely check them out soon. His German is a little awkward, but this is a minor quibble in a stellar performance.
This book made me think about how any culture views race. Even as a white person, my lack of acknowledgement of race is, by itself, a comment on my racial views. I will pick up this book again.
Anyone wondering what the life of an ordinary person (i.e. not a political figure, or the types usually biograph-ized) was like under Nazi rule will learn a lot from this book; Massaquoi goes into great detail discussing his daily life, and it's from a rare and interesting perspective. I was struck by how normal his life was (until the war) and one of the important and sobering takeaways from this book is that the racism he endured under the Nazis was in many ways less severe than what he experienced in America -- and what many black people still suffer through here today.
Though it's certainly worth a listen if the above appeals to you, Massaquoi's story is bogged down by rather tedious writing. He lacks the ability to make a scene really come to life, and offers few vivid descriptions. Worse, he repeatedly makes the rookie mistake of telegraphing the result of a scene beforehand: he'll say something along the lines of (to paraphrase) "I had a bad feeling about this, and my fears would turn out to be well founded," and to THEN write the scene in which that happens, thus removing any chance at narrative suspense. And he does this ALL THE TIME.
The reader has a pleasant voice and cadence but his emotional range is rather limited and he struggles with the German words.
The story was well written and you could feel the reality of his day to day existence. His story was so much like many of ours, except he was in an entirely different environment.
Hans, his willingness to open up and share his personal experiences, the good the bad and the foolish, it took a lot of courage. He was a lucky fellow to have survied the many close encounters with almost certain disaster.
The narration was good. I read the hard copy afterwards, which was more enjoyable after hearing some of the German phrases.
This would be a really entertaining movie. BLACK KID IN NAZIS GERMANY? or
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Black in Nazis Germany
A unique fascinating story. It makes you wonder what other stories are out there, that we just don't know about and what were there outcomes. I recommend this to everyone.
The Narration: Seamless. The inflections and tenor of the narrator made this easily one of the most aesthetically enjoyable reads I can compare in my years listening to audio books.
The Content: Destined to Witness is a cradle to middle age narrative which is rich the experiences that men face growing up, which brings one close to the writer's experience. The story then begins to ascend like a roller coaster ticking up the first precipice; as the implications of the time and setting this man was born into reveal their eminence in history and set the stage for a great story.
I can pay no greater compliment than to say the emotions and thoughts conveyed in the book had me swaying like sports fan watching a live game in over time. For such a harrowing tale there is an uncanny optimism, as the writer does not shrink from expounding his good experiences in equal measure to his tribulations.
Over All: This is a story all should read, not simply for a wonderful message which will stimulate your thoughts, but because it is a great listen and well worth a credit at it's 19 hour running time which had me engrossed throughout.
This is one of the most incredible stories I've ever heard! Such a different perspective than most WW II memoirs. I couldn't put it down! A must listen for anyone, really!
This book is a must read for anyone is curious about getting to know african history beyond what is generally taught. It kept me on the edge of my seat all the way to the end.
"Really Interesting Perspective"
This book was very enjoyable. A different perspective on Nazi Germany, from a boy who considered himself a proper little German, yet wasn't wanted by the authorities in his country. It is amazing how little racism he experiences from most normal people and then suddenly (like when he tries to join the Hitler Youth) he finds his services are not required. An excellent book, telling a fascinating story with an admirable lightness of touch.
"Amazing Truthful detail"
Yes, because the book goes into such detail, I feel that if I was to read it again I'd pick up on more details that maybe I hadn't caught previously.
I liked that there were tense moments, moments of equilibrium and disequilibrium throughout the story. It never ceased to catch my all round focus. I like how the narrator/author goes into depth about his surroundings, it makes it easy for me to picture the exact environment, allowing me to vision it exactly from the last point that I'd listened to the book.
It was so captivating to me that I didn't want the book to end, so I made sure to listen to about 3 hours each day, so that I had something to look forward to at the end of each day.
Amazing and inspiring book. Reading this, you are able to capture the history of civilians of the World War 2 from a different perspective.
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