A multilayered memoir written from the unusual perspective of a Holocaust survivor’s daughter who grew up in Latin America.

WHEN TIME STOPPED

A MEMOIR OF MY FATHER'S WAR AND WHAT REMAINS

A London-based former foreign correspondent for Venezuela’s Daily Journal uncovers the true story of her Jewish father’s double life during World War II.

When he learned that he was scheduled to be deported from Nazi-occupied Prague to a concentration camp, Hans Neumann took a brazen step: He hid in plain sight, assuming a false identity and going to work as a chemist for a supplier of the German war machine in Berlin. That daring feat alone might make his story unique, but there is much more to it. After the war—during which his parents and 23 other relatives were murdered by the Nazis—Neumann settled in Caracas, and he and his brother founded a paint company that became an international conglomerate. He and his glamorous second wife attained an enviable position in Venezuela: rich, cultured, well respected, and socially prominent. Neumann hid his Jewish roots, but the author, the couple’s only daughter, found an early clue to his erstwhile double identity when she stumbled as a girl on the fake ID card that had enabled him to work in Germany. Even then, she had no idea he was Jewish—“I was absolutely oblivious as a child”—and remained largely in the dark until her father died and left her a box of papers that held a memoir of his bold escape to Berlin. In this elegantly structured debut, the author reconstructs with considerable literary finesse the life of her father, who owned 297 pocket watches—a unifying motif and organizing metaphor that readers may see as his metaphorical attempt to replace time stolen by Hitler. She also offers vivid images of Terezín (renamed Theresienstadt by the Nazis), where her grandparents were interned before they died in Auschwitz. Because Terezín was nominally a transit and labor camp rather than a death camp, prisoners could send and receive letters and packages, and the author includes poignant excerpts of some of the letters.

A multilayered memoir written from the unusual perspective of a Holocaust survivor’s daughter who grew up in Latin America.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982106-37-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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