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Prague: My Long Journey Home: A Memoir of Survival, Denial, and Redemption Paperback – December 14, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
From a life of privilege, Charles is a well-loved and valued only child, grandchild and great grandchild. He is sheltered from the reality of what is happening, as one cherished family member after another vanishes from his life. His father joins the British Army to fight the Nazis and disappears from the author's life for five years. Charles becomes one of the "hidden children" and his mother is taken away from him. Although very lonely, he is still not aware of the extent of, or reasons for, the Nazis' terrible carnage.
Charles' father returns from the war and when it seems that life might be normal again; the family must leave everything behind and flee again, this time from communist oppression.
After more than a year in a series of refuge camps, the author and his parents, arrive in America with its promise of freedom and opportunity, His parents overcome all obstacles to provide him with the education he will need to achieve the American dream. And, he does that--becoming a successful businessman, entrepreneur and academic, sharing his experience and knowledge with people in the United States as well as the Czech Republic.
However, throughout his life Charles is haunted by the past. Part of him is still the secretive lonely child--the one who can tell no one that he shot, and hoped he killed a Nazi when he was nine years old. He needs to find the truth about the "lost" family members, about why they were all killed. In finding the truth, he questions the role of his Jewish heritage and his own denial of that heritage.Read more ›
Heller's life story is both disturbing and inspring. Those of us who grew up hearing about and reading about the horrors of life and death under the Nazis and then communism rarely feel the depravity as a personal experience. For most of us, nazism and communism are simply ideologies and governance systemns that have failed in far off places. Heller provides that personal experience, and his narrative draws the reader in to feel it with him.
After escaping, Heller tried to drive those experiences from his mind and soul as he developed a remarkable career in the US, but it all came back and made him whole when he was able to embrace all of it and return to his beloved homeland of Czechoslovakia. Anyone who reads this book must be prepared to be deeply troubled by the capacity of some humans to inflict unspeakable suffering on others, but the life affirming conclusion makes the journey through hell worth every word.
The process of uncovering the past meant finally facing the suffering and deaths of members of his extended family during the Holocaust. It also meant remembering his last days with his beloved great-grandfather; and acknowledging his shooting, at age nine, of a man he believed to be a Nazi.
This is a memoir in which great triumphs--the reunion of Charles and his parents in 1945 and their eventual emigration to, and successful life in, the United States--are weighed against the price exacted by trying to forget.
"The past is not dead, it is not even past," Faulkner famously said. Charles Heller's moving descriptions of discovering the still-beating heart of his own past will keep readers enthralled.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very touching story, well written, and one that I will remember for a long while!Published 10 months ago by Ella Mae Powers
I happened to be visiting Prague when I read Mr. Heller's book which helped me to visualize and feel what he wrote. Read morePublished on June 29, 2014 by Dana G. Ehrhart
Very interesting account of a history that is not well known in the West. Wish there were more of such stories.Published on December 23, 2013 by Donna
As a young man, this author experienced so many horrors of WWII. His survival and that of his parents was nothing short of miraculous!Published on October 25, 2013 by Elise
"Prague" is a compelling autobiography and a satisfying read, informative and well-written. It is the story of a brave young Czech boy, born of a Catholic mother and a Jewish... Read morePublished on April 18, 2013 by Alan M. Fleishman
Having visited Prague I was especially interested in this book. I found it to be very profound and sensitive. Had the good fortune to meet the author. Read morePublished on February 13, 2013 by Jan
Charles Heller's story is at once an engrossing life story and an important historical record of a family's experiences in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Read morePublished on March 26, 2012 by JDBM
Charles Heller shares his very moving and courageous true story. It was educational as well as personal. Read morePublished on March 23, 2012 by Sue from Maryland