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Publisher's Summary

This powerful memoir traces Brazilian-born American Julie Lindahl's journey to uncover her grandparents' role in the Third Reich, as she is driven to understand how and why they became members of Hitler's elite, the SS. Out of the unbearable heart of the story - the unclaimed guilt that devours a family through the generations - emerges an unflinching will to learn the truth. 

In a remarkable six-year journey through Germany, Poland, Paraguay, and Brazil, Julie uncovers, among many other discoveries, that her grandfather had been a fanatic member of the SS since 1934. During World War II, he was responsible for enslavement and torture and complicit in murder of the local population on the large estates that he oversaw in occupied Poland, before fleeing to South America to evade a new wave of war-crimes trials. 

The pendulum used by Julie's grandmother to divine good from bad and true from false becomes a symbol for the elusiveness of truth and morality, but also for the false securities we cling to when we become unmoored from them. As Julie delves deeper into the abyss of her family's secret, discovering history anew, one precarious step at a time, the compassion of strangers is a growing force that transforms her world and the way that she sees her family - and herself.

©2018 Julie Lindahl (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 01-14-19

Exceptional

This is a fascinating story about a historian’s search for the truth about her family history. I highly recommend this book. If you have ever done any genealogy research on your family, you will be enthralled with this book. Lindahl was born in Brazil where her grandparents had emigrated after World War II. She discovered her grandfather was not only a Nazi but SS. This book will make you stop and think about the rise of fascism and what is happening today in the world. Can history repeat itself?

The book is well written and researched. She tells of her grandparents’ lives but also about her own emotions about her discoveries. Lindahl uses her skills as an academic to research and report on this difficult subject. I found her search techniques to be interesting. Lindahl earned her B.S. from Wellesley and was a Fulbright Scholar to Germany majoring in the German language. She earned a Ph.D. in International Relations from Oxford University. She was a Steven Traveling Fellow 2015-16 at Wellesley College and University College of London. She lives in Sweden.

The book is nine hours. Gabra Zackman does a great job narrating the book. Zackman is an actress and audiobook narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful