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We Were Dancing on a Volcano: Bloodlines and Fault Lines of a Star-Crossed Atlanta Family, 1849-1989 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0578027791
ISBN-10: 0578027798
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The Glade Press; 1st edition (September 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0578027798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0578027791
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,613,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Family history is not a popular genre these days, unless the families being written about are the Tudors, the Romanovs or the Kennedys. Nor it is an easy one to write especially for a family member; the tendency to sentimentalize, to over-dramatize the family's historical impact while ignoring or sanitizing their foibles is hard to overcome.
Despite the fact the Gatins is not a well-known name outside of Atlanta, and that this history was written by a family member, readers of We Were Dancing on a Volcano by Joseph Gatins are in for a pleasant surprise. Not only is the family as fascinating as the Kennedys to whom they bear some surface similarities (Irish Catholic, a rich scion with a disreputable past, a war hero and international impact), but the author is able to keep his distance and cast a cold critical eye on the family curse of alcoholism and its insidious legacy.
The Gatins family story begins with the founder's acquisition of considerable wealth through illegal speculation in New York, his investments in real estate in Atlanta and the building of the Georgia Terrace Hotel which provided income for the next three generations. Where the book evolves from interesting to fascinating, however, is with the founder's marriage to a French noblewoman and the subsequent connections to Paris which would continue in the succeeding generations. The most compelling is the tale of Joseph Francis Gatins III, the author's father who served in the French Army during World War II, was captured by the Germans, tortured because they thought he was Jewish, and who escaped several times only to be transferred to more and more horrible prison camps.
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Format: Paperback
A beautiful French lady becomes a wise old woman living in an apartment in Buckhead, a neighborhood of Atlanta Georgia; this seemed to be the hook that drew me into, We Were Dancing on A Volcano. Seeing history through the eyes of this lady as she lives through the French Occupation helps make it less textbook and more real.

My favorite part of the book was the last few chapters as the author wove the strands together and put himself into the picture with his own memories. This book was well researched and written, but when feelings and emotions were added to the weaving, it gave it a more personal touch that allows all the parts to converge into one man's story and his place in history.
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Format: Paperback
Genealogies have perhaps never been so popular, which is ironic. Genealogical studies are always a mixed bag for the family member or members conducting them. They can yield exhilarating facts about ancestors. Just as often, however, they can dredge up dark family secrets. They can unveil murders, suicides, devastating tragedies, humiliations, frailties, dispiriting failures, and reprehensible behavior. Such is the case with Joseph Gatins' We Were Dancing on a Volcano.

At present, Joseph Gatins is an unpretentious retiree who maintains a small garden in the mountains of north Georgia, but his roots are impressive, to say the least. His great-grandfather- Joseph F. Gatins, Sr.- was a Wall Street tycoon who amassed, by 1910, a fortune estimated to be about $10,000,000.00, the equivalent of $228,000,000.00 today. Among other things, he founded the Georgian Terrace Hotel, one of Atlanta, Ga.'s most luxurious buildings. His maternal lineage is, if possible, even more amazing. His grandmother, Egle, was the spawn of French nobility. Her family was old, too, dating back to the Crusades. Gatins' ancestors were so prominent that major newspapers like the Atlanta Journal regularly chronicled their vacations overseas, whom they were dating at the time, and their ritzy soirees.

Still, there were numerous cracks in a surprisingly fragile façade. His great-grandfather may have been a gifted financier and entrepreneur, but he was also a con man. He was arrested for stock fraud, which is, of course, a serious crime. In 1913, he narrowly escaped a two-year prison sentence through a plea bargain. He agreed to plead guilty and quietly paid a $9,000.00 fine. Egle's family may have been old and wealthy, but it also had a checkered past.
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Format: Paperback
In our daily grind of activity we forget of those that were here before us. Especially those of our family, our roots and those nameless people in old vintage black and white photographs that hover on the walls filled with smiling folks.
After his father's death, Joseph Gatins found one such photo. One of a one armed man holding a baby. Partly because of his curiosity and because of his journalistic background, Joseph Gatins went on a quest to discover his family's past.
What he discovered was one on intrigue, drama, and success. In Atlanta, the Gatins have left a lasting imprint in the Georgian Terrace Hotel which is celebrating its centennial celebration this year. The hotel was constructed by his Great-Grandfather Joseph Francis Gatins, Sr., a successful business man.
Weaving the Gatins men through the prongs of history is intriguing look of high society and the outside forces that shaped them. The women were not to be discounted, the author's mother was a Colombian born woman who grew up in France. She was a hit in the burgeoning heart of Dixie.
Told in as a historical novel, this book moves quickly as the family grew and evolved. Because the Gatins had the tradition of giving firstborn sons the same first and middle names the dialogue in parts can be a bit confusing.
This tale of the Gatins family tree is a rich illustration of a world long gone and how Atlanta history is their own.
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