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Showing 1-10 of 24 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 44 reviews
on December 28, 2015
I was disappointed in this book. My family members were survivors of GULAG. One of them was 16 year old girl a daughter of well known person in Russia. It was so horrendous for her she would not talk about her experiences with anybody but her friends from these camps. In this book it feels almost too easy.
Karl Tobien doesn't give clear information about his mother's family citizenship. It most likely that at some point her parents choose to get Russian citizenship. Margaret was probably too young and it wasn't her choice. She couldn't work in Russia during WWII without Russian passport! There is the reason why American Embassy couldn't help them!
About Gunter, Margaret's husband, If I am right, he was about 7-8 years younger his wife! He was left behind in hated cold Inta to work and support family then he was only one working in W.Germany. I can understand why he wasn't happy and in relationship usually both parties are guilty.
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on September 30, 2012
"Dancing Under the Red Star" is an incredible story about Margaret Werner, an American woman who travelled to the Soviet Union with her parents in the early 1930's, where her father went to work in a newly built Ford Motor Co. factory. Her father, a German immigrant, had socialist sympathies and thought he was going to a worker's paradise, hoping to make a better life for himself and his family.

Upon arrival in the town of Gorky, and shown their humble and sub-standard apartment, they immediately knew this venture was not what they envisioned. The job at the factory was not what Carl Werner expected either. Some Americans returned home soon, but Carl Werner elected to stay, though he was openly critical of conditions at the factory. Maybe that is what got him in trouble, maybe it was just the fact that he was an American in Stalin's Soviet Union. Regardless, the Soviet secret police came for him in 1938, hauled him away, never to be seen or heard from again.

His wife and teenage daughter, left to fend for themselves, struggled mightily.
They moved to a smaller and even worse apartment, Margaret's mother found a humble job, and every day was a new struggle for survival. Margaret graduated high school, and having learned the Russian language, got a string of several good jobs.

Then the Soviets came for her, on trumped up charges of espionage. Margaret spent ten years in Soviet prisons and labor camps, determined to survive, where so many others gave up and let themselves die.

This book is written by Margaret's son Karl, though it is written in the first person, as if she is telling the story herself. While Karl is not a professional writer, he did a good job with the book, producing a very readable and compelling story.

The Stalinist purges and Gulag prisons are not news, but reading a first-hand account from the inside is both gripping and educational. Margaret Werner was an amazing woman, intelligent, talented, determined. Her story could be repeated by millions of the victims of the Stalin purges, but she is one of the few who survived to tell the tale.

This book is hard to put down, and is well worth reading.
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on February 10, 2017
I was very excited to read this book, but only a few chapters in, I'm disappointed. The author (or narrator, not sure which or why this wasn't edited out!) is incredibly repetitive. We hear over and over how awesome she is at sports, how competitive she is, how boys like her, and most of all, how awesome her dad is. The chapters I read could have easily been condensed into a few pages, and they would have been interesting! Sometimes less is more, but I don't think the author (or narrator) knew that. :(
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on May 2, 2011
This story is truely amazing. I selected it for a book club I lead and it created very good discussion. You will learn about a piece of history that includes Stalin's stalag (war camp's)and also some interesting insight into Ford Motor Company in the 1930's. This is a true story about one young womans perseverance through suffering many many years in the stalag and the frustration of not being able to return to her own country, the United States. A wonderful surprise awaits at the end of the book, but I won't give that away. I'm always recommending this book as I work in a library. Definitely a page turner!
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on August 25, 2013
It was an amazing story of a person's survival of Stalin's gulag prison system. Henry Ford sent several thousand very idealistic people to Russia in the 1930's to help start up a car factory. Eventually, they were considered traitors and sent to prisons!This details all the horrific experiences this woman had in prison and what she did to survive there.
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on April 30, 2016
Met Karl on the internet; my wife liked this book a lot; grabbed it before I could even read it - excellent story, well written
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on February 8, 2014
This is an amazing and scary account of the author's experience of Gulag imprisonment under Stalin's dictatorship. This lady is my age. I have to think, " but for the grace of God this could be any of us." She was innocent but in the clutches of a system in which the individual is powerless. It's a warning to value and protect our democratic system.
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on January 20, 2016
We bought this book for school. However, I ended up reading it myself. It was an awesome story from history that I totally missed in school. I believe more people should read it.
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on May 23, 2011
This book is definitely worth reading. Margret's experience in the Gulag is unique from other accounts I have read. The writing could have been better, the author repeats himself many times, making the repetition very noticeable.
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on November 29, 2013
Read it, then sent a copy to my 25 year old daughter: example of what a good life she has, in spite of her daily problems. Now we BOTH like it very much.

Had NO IDEA the Ford company had sent hundreds of men to Russia like that in the 1930's!! So many of them died in the gulags, and people STILL want socialism/communism? READ THIS BOOK and think.

Also recommend Victor Herman's book, "Coming Out of the Ice: An Unexpected Life," his autobio/memoir? An American man who also survived the gulag...hurts to read it because of the extent of his suffering. All you socialists, take note!!

And my heart goes out to the N. Koreans, so many of whom are STILL living in "Gulag Hell."
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