on June 26, 2010
This literary gem should not be missed by anyone that wants to know more about this sad period and/or share the story of a young woman coming of age in one of the most difficult times and places in history. "Dancing In Bomb Shelters" is simply a translation of the author's diary, (originally written in Dutch,) spanning the five years of the German occupation of the Netherlands, with some occasional footnotes inserted by the author for more explanation. Based on this reading style, it is a very personal encounter with the author and her innermost feelings through it all, as well as attention to details of the war that I previously did not know. The book takes you from joyful moments with her friends, (including the dancing,) to the atrocities of one of the most horrible wars ever known, and many places in between because this was her life for five years starting at age 14. I was truly amazed at how it was possible for her and those around her to somehow continue on with life, despite all the horrors that the war seemed to continually send their way. In that respect, I would think that this could be a particularly fascinating read for someone in the field of psychology, and history teachers and students would obviously benefit by reading this book as well. I would love to know more of the author's story after this time because she is so successful in letting the reader get to know her so well, but she opted to end this book at the conclusion of the war. The book is relatively short, but the story is powerful and gut-wrenching at times, to be sure. I would not recommend the book for readers earlier than high school level, only because of the graphic description of some of the events of war that are mentioned.
on May 24, 2010
I HAVE JUST FINISHED READING "DANCING IN BOMB SHELTERS". BEING SOMEWHAT OF A WW11
HISTORIAN,I FOUND THE BOOK TO BE FACTUAL,HUMOROUS AND AMAZINGLY HONEST IN PRESENTING THIS EPIC TIME THROUGH THE EYES OF A YOUNG GIRL IN OCCUPIED HOLLAND.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR WAS THE ONLY WAR OF THE MODERN ERA THAT WAS TRULY "GOOD vs EVIL",THE AUTHOR DID A MAGNIFICENT JOB OF DEPICTING THE "GLORIFIED GANGSTERS" OF NAZI GERMANY FOR WHAT THEY TRULY REPRESENTED !THE AUTHOR'S ASSESSMENT OF THE "MARKET GARDEN" CAMPAIGN AND THE CALAMITIES IN ARNHEM IS ABSOLUTELY FACTUAL.
I PERSONALLY FEEL THAT THE DEPTH AND STRENGTH OF THIS BOOK LIES WITH THE AUTHOR'S PERSONAL PORTRAIT OF THE WAR FROM A CIVILIAN PROSPECTIVE . AS OPPOSED TO THE FIRST WORLD WAR, CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN WW-11 WERE EQUAL TO THE COMBATANTS ...IT WAS A "TOTAL WAR".THE AUTHOR'S NARRATIVE SKILLFULLY BRINGS YOU INTO HER WORLD, LIVING IN NIJMEGEN DURING THE HORRORS OF THE BOMBINGS , STARVATION AND THE SHEER BRUTALITIES WHICH OCCURRED EVERY DAY !
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS HISTORICAL BIOGRAPHY, NOT ONLY BECAUSE IT IS EXTREMELY INTERESTING, AND WELL WRITTEN BUT FOREMOST FOR A YOUNG DUTCH GIRL'S COURAGE TO SHARE HER PERSONAL JOURNEY ! DANCE ON..JOHANNA WYCOFF BRAVO !!
on April 1, 2010
"Dancing in Bomb Shelters" gives you a unique window into the ravages of World War II, as seen through the eyes of a spirited, idealistic girl coming of age during the Nazi occupation and liberation of Holland.
In the beginning, you feel a bit like a voyeur reading a girl's private observations and thoughts. With every diary entry, you are drawn into her world. Becoming part of her family, like the allied soldiers they housed during the liberation. You begin to identify with her. Cheering her on and laughing in amazement while she and her friends play pranks on the German soldiers occupying her hometown.
She was in many ways was a typical teenager who wanted to have fun, hang out with her friends, date boys, dance, listen to music and shop for clothes. However, her words poignantly illustrate that it was an everyday battle to stay alive, feed her family, hide Jewish friends, cope with the deaths of friends and family, endure the ever growing restrictions of the Nazis and avoid being thrown in the camps or shot. Her struggle to maintain any sense of hope in her everyday life under impossible conditions is inspiring.
Her story speaks volumes to the creativity and elasticity of the human spirit.
on April 2, 2010
Wow! This book is an amazing and detailed piece of history of a time that cannot be recaptured. A girl who wants to be a journalist faithfully records and interprets her everyday experiences at the German front in The Netherlands over 4 years. Included is invaluable detail about the events of the war as well as how it was to live as a young person during that frightening time.
Sometimes humorous and other times devastatingly painful, the diary is a peek into her sorrows, secrets, loves and fears. I also found it interesting to see life from the perspective of an average person who is not one of the unfortunate victims of the Jewish holocaust. This is another side to the horrors of war not often exposed.
Better than any history class, we learn the truth of how political decisions can destroy not only lives but precious possessions, governments, businesses, antiquities and livelihoods. But also we learn that despite all that, the human spirit, religion, hope, humor and love survive.
This book is honest, real and very moving. I recommend it to everyone!
on April 3, 2010
This historical diary takes us on a journey that gives the reader an up close and personal account of the trials of the war as seen through the eye's of a child. The author's illuminated documentation in her literary works serves as a reminder to all generations that the war; with all it's brutality; must never be forgotten and must simply be examined at every possible opportunity. The author cleverly weaves her experiences through the years with honesty, humor, gallantry and grace possessed by only those who lived through the atrocities of the occupation. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would recommend it to anyone interested in a first hand account of this dark era of the human experience.
on May 10, 2010
My only exposure to anything about WWII or the Nazi occupation came from textbooks. I have to admit I never read any historical books by my own choice - I just have trouble getting into them, I can't relate. That all changed when I picked up "Dancing in Bomb Shelters."
This very personal account from Johanna was simply amazing. It made the history come alive. This is a story that you won't find in those textbooks.
Johanna's words continue to echo in my mind as her story has forever changed my perspective. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a unique viewpoint of growing up under the most unfortunate of circumstances.
on June 4, 2010
DANCING IN BOMB SHELTERS BOOK IS A TREASURE, THE UNTOLD STORY THAT OCCURRED 65 YEARS AGO DURING WW II IN HOLLAND, WRITTEN BY THIS COURAGEOUS GIRL THAT WAS PERSUADED BY HER DAD. THE PUBLISHING OF THIS BOOK DEMONSTRATE THE TRUE CHARACTER OF THIS AUTHOR, HAVING TO RELIVE THE HORRORS MEMORIES OF WAR. WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO ENTER IN THE AUTHOR'S DIARY FOR THE FIRST TIME AND SHARE HER WIDE RANGE OF EMOTIONS FROM EXALTATION TO GRIEF. THE BOOK COVERS SO MANY MOVING STORIES WHICH REVEALS THE SYMPATHY, COMPASSION, APPRECIATION, DEVOTION AND LOVE TOWARDS HER FAMILY, FRIENDS, THE BRAVE PEOPLE OF THE UNDERGROUND, SOLDIERS OF ALLIED FORCES AND VICTIMS OF THIS HORRIBLE WAR, HAVING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BUT THEIR CLOTHS.
DESPITE THE AUTHOR'S FEAR OF HAVING HER DIARY DISCOVERED BY THE GERMANS AND THE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES FACING HERSELF AND HER FAMILY, THIS BRAVE GIRL CONTINUED WRITING HER DIARY ON A DAILY BASE EVEN UNDER ENEMY ATTACK.
THERE IS SO MUCH INFORMATION THAT CANNOT BE FOUND IN HISTORY BOOK, IN HOW PEOPLE PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY SURVIVED SO MANY YEARS OF DEPRIVATION OF BASIC ESSENTIAL NEEDS. IT ALLOWS US TO HAVE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON THIS HORRIFIC WAR AND A BETTER APPRECIATION OF THE LIBERTY WE ALL ENJOY. I NOW BETTER UNDERSTAND THE REASON WHY THE ALLIED SOLDIERS, ESPECIALLY AMERICANS AND CANADIANS WERE SO WELL REMEMBERED BY THE DUTCH PEOPLE DURING LIBERATION ANNIVERSARIES OF PAST YEARS.
HAT TO THE AUTHOR, THIS BOOK IS A TREASURE, IT'S A MUST READ, LOOKING FORWARD PERHAPS TO A SEQUEL, MANY THANKS.
on August 25, 2010
She lived in an era when the very act of writing a journal could carry a death sentence for you and your family. The criminals that have subjugated your nation would steal your meager supply of groceries. Dancing In Bomb Shelters shows the amazing courage and perseverance of Miss de Wilde and her family. I find the idea of living under the arbitrary rule of a mad dictator repulsive and truly frightening. In spite of all this, Johanna writes with grace and wit about an extraordinary time in history. The battle was not just in some far off field or forest. It was down the street, in your backyard and in your cellar.
Living any sort of normal life is amazing. People went to work and drew a paycheck. They went to movies, dances and parties all the while under martial law. But they also sold their possessions or begged for food. They shared this food with less fortunate friends and relatives. I had once been naïve enough to think that peace broke out in these countries after the Allies liberated them. This was not the case. The fighting continued with bombing and shelling until the last days of the war.
I found this book remarkable and carried it with me for a week until I was finished and then read it again.
on June 11, 2010
I found myself glued to this at 2:30am. The only thing I found wrong was the trouble putting it down. I'm an avid reader of WWII history and the historical fiction of this era but this is a different sort of tale. I also found the writing itself suprisingly good!
I've read very little of it written from a civilians point of view and even less than that from a growing teens.
This should be required reading of every high school student in the United States. This is the story of trying to grow up and maintain a family life while living directly under the heavy Nazi thumb. Teens starving, sick, houses demolished, working long hours,active in the underground,etc.; all the while worrying about trying to make the latest style with leftover materials or trying to have a dance somewhere! Tripping up the Germans every chance they had.
Teachers might consider doing this in class, day by day, since it's in diary form and would only take a few minutes. I believe the only problem might be with students reading ahead! I'm 60 and love a "good read".
Don't miss this one! It'll be money well spent.
on August 20, 2010
Our book club selected this book and I ordered it. I woke up this morning and it was there so I opened the box and started reading (not realizing how good this book would be). I didn't get any work done today because I couldn't put it down until the end! The author made me feel like I was there with her. I danced, I cried, I laughed, I rejoiced.... I am so sorry for what she and many others had to endure but am thankful that she shared her diary with me.
Even if you do not normally enjoy/read historical books, you can't go wrong with this!
I will be giving this book to many young people for Christmas this year so they might realize that no matter how tough they think they have it, they are extremely lucky.