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Good Neighbors, Bad Times: Echoes of My Father's German Village Paperback – Illustrated, December 1, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 15 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“A thoughtful, elegantly written memoir. . . . Through the author’s voice, we hear the voices of a dwindling group of survivors—Jewish and Christian—whose perspective and remembering are as complex as they are insightful. This is a Holocaust memoir that is as much about then, as it is about now. Good Neighbors, Bad Times will make you smile, but it will also make you think. I highly recommend it.”—Carol Rittner, co-author of The Courage to Care: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust
-- Carol Rittner Published On: 2007-06-13

“Mimi Schwartz is a very keen observer, a splendidly witty writer, and a committed skeptic. Her new book, Good Neighbors, Bad Times, which explores the past of the small Black Forest village where her father was born, reads like an idiosyncratic detective story. . . . The vivid portraits which Mimi Schwartz sketches of Benheim refugees transplanted to America and Israel and of Germans who stayed and still live in Benheim are brilliantly incisive, surprisingly amusing, and usually, ultimately equivocal.”—Edith Milton, author of The Tiger in the Attic
-- Edith Milton Published On: 2007-05-30

“Schwartz’s book is an original contribution to the crowded field of Holocaust literature. Its reach combines the full arsenal of creative nonfiction: personal experience, family history, interviews, observation, philosophy, literature. Good Neighbors, Bad Times speaks to issues regarding the process of memory, the balancing of experiential and archival information, and the ownership of history’s narrative.”—Floyd Skloot, author of In the Shadow of Memory and A World of Light
-- Floyd Skloot Published On: 2007-07-18

“This is a personal and introspective book distinguished by its intelligence and its quiet clarity.”—Max Apple, author of Roommates and I Love Gootie
-- Max Apple Published On: 2007-06-11

“Mimi Schwartz has written an engaging account of her journey into her family’s German-Jewish past. But Good Neighbors, Bad Times is much more than that: it is also a shrewd and insightful meditation on how our collective histories are discovered, constructed, revised, and debated—and how, finally, we learn to live with them.”—Michael Walzer, author of Just and Unjust Wars
-- Michael Walzer Published On: 2007-05-29

“Mimi Schwartz has found a fresh way to write about the unspeakable loss of the Holocaust: her humor, warm humanity and honesty, her appetite for contradiction and irony, sparkle on every page. The result is both deeply affecting and full of surprises.”—Phillip Lopate, author of Getting Personal and The Art of the Personal Essay
-- Phillip Lopate Published On: 2007-04-16

“When Mimi Schwartz set out with a tape recorder to discover something about the life of her father in a small German town. . . . She did not know what she would find. This is the story of her quest in vivid portraits of Jewish emigrants and German residents right up to a revealing climax.”—Raul Hilberg, author of The Destruction of the European Jews
-- Raul Hilberg Published On: 2007-07-18

Good Neighbors, Bad Times is utterly riveting. It reintroduces, one story at a time, the kind of human complexity to our understanding of ‘the perpetrators’ so often lacking when we confront the devastation of the Holocaust. Mimi Schwartz bravely takes us along on her journey to re-create the ethos of a particular village, its  surprises, uncertainties, contradictions, provocations, and shares with us her humbling conviction that—no matter how inhuman the orders that come from above—there is no  such thing as a monolith when it comes to the reactions of individuals. Her book casts a ray of light into the darkness, which was not so absolute as it has often seemed.”—Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After and Half a Heart
-- Rosellen Brown

“Schwartz puts at center stage not a sweeping generalization about ‘The Germans’ but its opposite, an open question that invites the reader to examine his or her moral conduct toward ‘neighbors,’ and to imagine oneself in the shoes of the various speakers and voices in the book. Schwartz raises large questions, too, about the nature of history, asking whether the flavor and essential, complex truth is lost when the stories of first-hand sources are squeezed into an historical narrative devoid of subjectivity.”—Sonya Huber, author of Opa Nobody
-- Sonya Huber Published On: 2007-07-18

“In this book history is brought to life in a stunning way. By tapping individual and collective memories, the crisis of a German village is illuminated in recall and ritual as century-old patterns of coexistence between Christians and Jews are torn asunder under the impact of Nazism and War. By interweaving the personal and the political, the institutional sinews of the village fabric are laid bare along with the historic forces eroding them. Beautifully written, the diverse reactions of ordinary villagers reveal both the fragility and the strengths of the bonds that held them together, broke down, and were emotionally reclaimed in the struggle to comprehend their fate.”—Suzanne Keller, author of Community: Pursuing the Dream, Living the Reality
-- Suzanne Keller Published On: 2007-06-11

About the Author

Mimi Schwartz is a professor emerita of writing at Richard Stockton College. She is the author of  Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed, available in a Bison Books edition, and Writing True, the Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction (co-authored with Sondra Perl). Her essays have been widely anthologized and six of them have been Notables in Best American Essays.

Product details

  • Paperback : 288 pages
  • Item Weight : 11.9 ounces
  • ISBN-10 : 0803226403
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0803226401
  • Publisher : Bison Books; Illustrated Edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 15 ratings