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In the Unlikeliest of Places: How Nachman Libeskind Survived the Nazis, Gulags, and Soviet Communism (Life Writing) Paperback – September 5, 2016
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"The deeper I went into In the Unlikeliest of Places the more I found my eyes tearing up―not from the suffering of victims of the Holocaust but from the beauty of the extraordinary courage and success of Nachman Libeskind. It is, of course, the success of a whole family, a whole people refusing to accept defeat, but it's especially the defiance and joy in his spirit that is so moving. When he goes to Berlin to see the Jewish Museum, designed by his son, Daniel Libeskind, and when he takes up painting in his eighties, not as an old man's busywork but with craft, power, verve, and a brilliant sense of color and composition―those victories moved me more than any recent book on the Holocaust and survival. That man! You're going to love him and love the people who supported and believed in him, especially his wife Dora and his children―Annette and Daniel―and his grandchildren." (John J. Clayton, author of Many Seconds into the Future (2014) and Mitzvah Man (2011))
"Berkovits, Libeskind's daughter and the author of this cinematically gripping debut biography, does a masterful job weaving together a coherent narrative, culled largely from tape recordings that her father left behind. She has a rare gift for storytelling ... the prose is lively and direct, and the story is deeply affecting ... A moving tale that's emotionally powerful and historically edifying." (Kirkus Reviews)
"This is a beautifully written saga of a Jewish family before, during and after World War II. The Holocaust must never be forgotten. The historical value of survivor testimonies is important to preserving the collective memory of humanity."(Hanna Davidson Pankowsky, author of East of the Storm: Outrunning the Holocaust in Russia)
Annette Libeskind Berkovits's In The Unlikeliest of Places is an incandescent biographical tribute to the author's father, Nachman Libeskind, an eternally hopeful survivor.... Berkovits relates her father's story in elegant and shifting prose....Though this is, inescapably, a Holocaust survivor's biography, it is not dominated by those horrors; rather, it celebrates the ingenuity with which one man made his time less about enduring than about living vibrantly.
In the Unlikeliest of Places honors the life of an artist, a father, and a survivor who maintained his sense of identity with gentility, despite the historical challenges he endured.(Michelle Anne Schingler Foreword Clarion Reviews)
"This is a book that works on so many levels: as the biography of a Polish Jew who narrowly escapes two murderous totalitarian systems, as a personal journey that leads to a new life in the United States marked by optimism and accomplishment―and, above all, as the beautiful, heartfelt tribute of a daughter to her remarkable father." (Andrew Nagorski, author of Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power (2012))
About the Author
Annette Libeskind Berkovits was born in Kyrgyzstan and grew up in postwar Poland and the fledgling state of Israel before coming to America at age sixteen. In her three-decade career with the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, she spearheaded the institution’s nationwide and worldwide science education programs. Her achievements include the first-ever agreement to bring environmental education to China’s schools. The National Science Foundation has recognized her outstanding leadership in the field.
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Nachman’s (and I defer to calling him by his first name, after all, he is now eternally a friend of mine) life began simple enough in Poland. He would have lived his life without much ado, I think, but Destiny came calling and send him to places no human being should ever have had to go.
Destiny sent him to a living hell and back, not just once, but many times, and I had to wonder how this brilliant, wonderful man was ever able to keep looking at both sides of the coin in all of the misery he endured time and time again. I was in awe of his constant search for good even in the middle of evil.
I loved the sometimes changing story line traversing from his voice to that of his daughter’s. The subtle breaks gave me an opportunity to come up for air when I thought I could no longer go on in certain circumstances, and it reminded me that I was in the present, away from all the events that I found myself so immersed in through this storytelling of Nachman’s life.
And now, as I have closed the pages of this book….as I have sat back as if I have just devoured a full Thanksgiving dinner stuffed to the brim with all good things, I sit and wonder how my friend Nachman was able to remain forever thoughtful of good for others. I wonder how he was able to endure all of the suffering and heartache, much more than what one person should ever have to endure in one life time.
But the story he has shared with me, the story his daughter has painstakingly offered to me, has become a legacy of hope and awe and inspiration to me and surely any other human that picks this book up to read it. With this story comes a determination to be a better person, to look for the good in the middle of the most horrible evil, and to be able to feel as though I was loved by Nachman Libeskind although I never met him outside of the pages of this book.
This book is the story of an incredibly remarkable individual who did not allow life to beat him down, but instead lived it to the fullest. His story has enriched my life and amazed me. I will read this story once a year, to remind me of my friend Nachman, and I will read it to my grandchildren, as we must never forget a man as noble as Nachman Libeskind.
This is an extraordinary book since it is about the extraordinary life of an extraordinary person in more ways than one. Annette Libeskind Berkovits writes with intelligence and affection about her father's life and personality. Overall, it is a fascinating life story that is well-written and makes it easier to understand many of the key events of the 20th century.