10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Roses from the Earth: The Biography of Anne Frank (Paperback)
Carol Ann Lee's meticulous research, coupled with her natural flair for telling a good story, make this biography one of the most fascinating accounts of Anne Frank's life ever to appear. Beginning with the sudden arrest of the hidden Frank and van Pels families, Lee goes on to describe Anne's early life, her emigration to the Netherlands, her years in the hiding place, her great gift as a writer, and ultimately her death in the Nazi extermination camps. She also places Anne's life in a broader historical context, packing the book with information on the rise of Nazism, the invasion of the Netherlands, and the systematic rounding up and annihilation of Dutch Jewry. Her theories on who exactly betrayed Anne Frank make gripping reading.
She presents Anne as a real person, not a haloed angel, and is one of the few writers who has actually paid close attention to the people in Anne's life - her mother, her reclusive but phenomenally gifted sister, even her American penfriend. The result is not only a vivid portrait of one of the most talented writers that the world has ever been unfortunate enough to lose, but a candid snapshot of a laughing, living girl. I closed the book feeling as if Anne might come bursting into the room at any moment.
On a more sober note, Lee disabuses us of the comfortable notion that Anne's most famous sentiment ("I still believe that all people are good at heart") must have immunised her against the suffering in the camps. Her death was not the gentle expiration of a calm, dispassionate saint. It was painful and cruel and sickening. In graphic language, drawing heavily on the testimony of survivors, Lee pulls us into the camps and forces us to watch as Anne eventually succumbs to malnutrition and horrific disease.
Yet this book is essentially hopeful, with a powerful and positive message. The final chapters, dealing with the phenomenal success of the diary, leave the reader feeling that because the diary has survived 'so too, in some mysterious way, has the author'.
'Roses from the Earth' turns Anne Frank the Holocaust cover girl into Anne Frank the human being. Read it.