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An often stunning story of personal triumph amid the political turbulence of the 20th century.

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Voticky recounts his Czechoslovakian family’s escape from fascism and communism and his later life as a Canadian pilot in this memoir. 

The author was born in 1934 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during a time when dark political forces threatened to swallow Europe whole. His Jewish parents, Arnold and Annamarie, after witnessing the degradation of Jews at the hands of Hitler’s Nazis, prudently prepared for escape, funneling money to Annamarie’s brother in Switzerland. They fled to Italy, but Arnold temporarily stayed behind, and when he found himself unable to obtain an exit visa, the whole family returned to be with him. After Arnold narrowly evaded arrest, the family once again took flight back to Italy—this time, to catch on ocean liner to Shanghai by way of Bombay and Manila. The author, only 6 years old at the time, attended an American school in China, where he not only learned English, but also cultivated a lasting admiration for the United States. However, the Japanese eventually invaded, and, as Jews, the family was relegated to living in a segregated ghetto until after the war, when they could return to Prague. Once back home, Voticky learned of some of his extended family members’ grim fates in death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka. Once the Soviets took over, the family was compelled to run yet again, this time to Montreal. The author lucidly captures the extraordinary drama of his family’s lives as they were caught between two of the 20th century’s worst tyrannies. His story is a stirringly inspirational one, as well; he tells of being so awed by the spectacle of American fighter planes in 1945 that he vowed to become a pilot—and he eventually did, for a commercial airline. The memoir ends with a thoughtful and emotionally poignant reflection on immigration in the United States. Voticky’s account of his adult life is less cinematic than that of his youth, and he can sometimes overburden the reader with minutely detailed descriptions of his aviation career and training. Still, this book remains a gripping slice of history overall. 

An often stunning story of personal triumph amid the political turbulence of the 20th century. 

Pub Date: March 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-3104-0

Page Count: 312

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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