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Life Between the Lines: A Memoir Paperback – Illustrated, 28 Jun 2012
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'As the season approaches for people to choose their books of the year, I would certainly put in my top five a just-published autobiography by former Fleet Street journalist John Izbicki, whom I, also a one time education journalist, knew when he covered education for The Daily Telegraph. It is a fascinating history, not just of newspapers, but of his personal life, fleeing Nazi Germany, as a child in the 1930s.' --David Lister, The Independent.
'Moving and disturbing at times, this book reflects major historical events from the rise of the Nazis in his formative years to profiling and commenting on more contemporary events. The author unpicks his own life with clarity, dignity and rare insight that put experiences into perspective. This wonderful and outstanding true story will live with me for some time. A fantastic, highly recommended read.' --Len Parkyn, The Teacher, journal of the National Association of Teachers
'John Izbicki's autobiography, Life Between the Lines, opens with his memories of running down the street as a five-year-old, exuberantly shouting: 'I am a Jew!'. As this was in Hitler's Berlin, it gave his parents understandable cause for anxiety. Izbicki later witnessed Kristallnacht from inside his parents' shop, and recalls literally running to the station with them in September 1939, hours after air transport out of Germany to England had been halted. But they managed to make it and he recounts a colourful career in which, demobbed, he progressed from Paris correspondent to Daily Telegraph education editor and back again. While there is humour in the book, there is also much grim and poignant detail. With most of his family having perished, he clearly will never be reconciled with Germany.' --Anthea Gerrie, The Jewish Chronicle
About the Author
John Izbicki's professional and personal relationships with ministers and prime ministers, including Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher, Keith Joseph and Neil Kinnock, make fascinating reading but John Izbicki has never forgotten his childhood under fascism, nor the tragic fate that befell the many close relatives left behind in Nazi Germany.
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John came from a familiar background of under privilege and prosecution in Germany. On his arrival to the UK another reality set in which required him to outperform his newly acquired friends, but fortunately this was not too difficult. He describes candidly and with great wit his interactions with many a politician, his highs and lows in family and professional life, and above all his vision for fairness and an opportunistic future, without the blame of the past. Some of his stories are so good that I laughed out aloud, others brought a "WOW" moment and others made me melancholic. However all express a degree of humility and intelligence that is so rarely on show today. The reading of this book was one continuous rollercoaster for me, not a page without interest and few books have got me out of bed at 4AM on a Sunday morning. Such was the joy of reading about his various mischief's and achievements. Simply as good as it gets.
The first few pages set the scene brilliantly in war torn Berlin a happy successfully family whose life is turned upside down. They escape to the UK hours before war is declared, other family members are not so lucky. The author then describes his education and on through national Service in the Middle East and on to his chosen profession as a Journalist, although he wanted to be an actor.
Rubbing shoulders with icons of the 20th century there are many up's and down's but on the whole a remarkable life. Great work and a pleasure to read.
I found his account of his life in journalism quite absorbing, especially in the times when he was the education correspondent for the Telegraph, associating with many well-known politicians etc -particularly Margaret Thatcher.
There is a very moving chapter about the death of his first wife.
The only small criticisms I have of the book is that he includes rather too many expletives, particularly when quoting other people, and there is a slight sense of bragging about his association with important people and about his achievements. Nevetherless these do not detract from what is a good absorbing read.
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