German-born McIntosh's recollections of the good and bad times of an interesting life–wartime childhood, occupied Germany, escape from Russia–are admirably upbeat, though not always compelling.
The daughter of a wealthy businessman and raised in comfort, McIntosh, born in the early 1930s, now lives in California, but her story begins in Chemnitz, Germany, in 1939. Though not a member of the Nazi Party, and detesting their beliefs, her father had to report for military service. McIntosh describes the pervasive atmosphere of fear in those years, with Nazi spies on every block and in every institution, and sacrifice for the Fatherland mandatory–their German Shepherd, Max, was even drafted into military service. In 1943, the family was allowed, thanks to a doctor's health certificate, to move to their ski cabin in the mountains. It was bitterly cold and they had to live off the land, but they did escape the bombings that were razing nearby cities like Dresden and Leipzig. With the advancing Russians arbitrarily deporting local civilians and plundering homes, the family decided to escape into the American zone. The journey was dangerous, but they made it, though they were not exactly welcome–food, lodging, and jobs were in short supply. McIntosh affectionately recalls how her father, whose former business was in the Russian zone, began again from scratch, while her elder bother Peter made dangerous forays back to their old home to retrieve what he could. In 1953, awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Smith College, McIntosh arrived in the United States, where she has since remained. After Smith, she studied business at Harvard, married, raised two daughters, and then divorced. Though the rest of the book chronicles a life lived with zest, it is more a record of the mundane–fixing roofs, traveling abroad, and giving and receiving family support.
A well-intentioned, generous gift to one family's future generations, but lacking in appeal to an outside audience.