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Mosaic: A Chronicle of Five Generations Audio CD – Audiobook, 21 May 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Audiobook, 21 May 2012
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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing; Unabridged edition (21 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1743107056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1743107058
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 4.4 x 14 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,155,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The atmosphere and the characters of this book stayed with me for many days after I finished it. Although it is thick, it is a 'quick read' because the story is so compelling that the rest of your life has to be put on hold. The initial details about life in a big Jewish family are fascinating. Their experience of World War II has you crying. Armstrong throws in many profound observations that have you stopping to reflect or grabbing some notepaper to write them down. It is satisfying to follow the family through five generations, including the present day - you get your sense of closure. I came away feeling like I had a greater understanding of Jewish people and culture. Lent it to a friend who loved it as much as me.
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Format: Paperback
Diane Armstrong traces the history of her family over a hundred years in what is far more more than merely a family a saga but is indeed a pivotal epic of suffering, survival and renewal in Jewish history.
It explores the grand range of human emotions from hope, humour, friendship , love and tenderness to anger, fear, hate, pain and loss.

The real life epic begins in in Krakow, Poland, 1890 when the author's grandfather, when the author's grandfather ,Daniel Baldinger, divorces Reizel, his wife of ten years, because of their inability to produce children, and marries Leiba Spira, the pretty and industrious young daughter of a shopkeeper in his community.
Daniel and Leiba are blessed with a comfortable home and 11 fine children, and this well rounded and beautifully written account takes us through the generations of Dian Armstrong's family, imbibing the reader with the richness of Polish Jewish life, the hopes and trials of the family through the horrors and destruction of the Holocaust and the tenuous survival in hiding of the author as a three year old girl and her parents, posing as Polish Catholics, at the time when the discovery of their being Jewish would have meant certain death.
Through the courage of a young Catholic priest, Father Soszynski and a community that does not betray them, the author's family survive tenuously, against overwhelming odds.
The Nazis and their willing helpers had succeeded in destroying the Jews of Europe, only 250 000 Jews remained alive, of the 3 million that had lived in Poland. In the words of Diane Armstrong "In concentration camps, death camps, ghettos, forest groves, hillsides. villages and cities, six million innocent people had been gassed, beaten, tortured, mutilated, set on fire, buried alive and starved".
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8f55a2ac) out of 5 stars 27 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ed8f48c) out of 5 stars Simply the best Holocaust narrative. 18 Oct. 2001
By L. Alper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved "Mosaic: A Chronicle of 5 Generations". I have read many Holocaust memoirs & oral histories, but none have moved me as Diane Armstrong's book has.
The strength of "Mosaic" is it's breadth and it's protagonists, the author's family. The central family, that of Daniel & Lieba Baldinger & their 11 children is augmented by cousins on the maternal side (the Spira's) as well as the family of Ms. Armstrong's mother, the Bratters. Although Poland is the setting for the first 30 years or so, as WWII beckons the scope becomes the entire continent of Europe as the now-adult children of Daniel & Lieba pursue their lives.
The majority of the family is caught in Nazi-controlled Poland & thru various ruses attempts to escape being deported to the death camps. These are the most thrilling sections of "Mosaic" because Ms. Armstrong's writing is so vivid that the reader can feel the never-ending fear that she & her family lived with for years. While she & her parents live as Catholics in a small Polish village, her aunt & young cousins are standing behind a wardrobe for days at a time in Krakow; we experience both types of anxiety as well as many others as the author recounts the many ruses various family members undertook to survive.
There were family members outside of Poland during WWII as well. With 2 uncles in France, another uncle who moved his family from Belgium thru Spain to finally end in Rio de Janeiro & various aunts & cousins everywhere from Andorra to Tel Aviv the reader is treated to a kaleidoscope of war experiences. The post-war years & family diaspora is dealt with in detail also.
What makes "Mosaic" especially memorable for me is that nobody is a "hero" or does "historic deeds" at any point in the book. While most Holocaust memoirs are by individuals who somehow stood out from the crowd, this account is of the members of that crowd, the folks who by simply surviving without compromising themselves became heroes. It is a marvelous reminder that everyone has a story worth telling.
The final chapter, in which Diane Armstrong & her daughter Justine return to Poland & reunite with the priest who befriended & helped her family shines with joy & compassion. I truly hope that Father Roman Soszynski had the opportunity to read this book. I hope that you will read it as well.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ed8f4bc) out of 5 stars A DEFINITE MUST READ! 21 Oct. 2014
By Reid1 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This beautifully written following of five generations of a Jewish family was absolutely riveting as it reflected the writer's love of her Jewish ancestors as she searched for the truth of their existence and any evidence of their lives.. Even though she was aware that it would be impossible to find many of her contemporaries alive and that the horrors of her ancestors' deaths in World War II and the Holocaust would await her, she fought through their histories with a determined spirit, looking for and interviewing any survivors to find the real truths. She did not approach the
war (and pre-war and post-war for that matter) with a gory, sensationalist approach as many writers do.. She was simply realistic and factual, truthfully shocking. The Holocaust happened and I imagined so much of it must have happened just as she described it because of her impeccable research.. An incredible hatred exists in the world but she overcomes it with caring for the discovery of the truth and she writes of it not in a revengeful manner but simply as a history of her family...
Every student of history should read this book to get a real feeling for anti-semitism and examples of how it has affected so many, how it existed in different nations, and how it was "justified" by the offenders, how it exists today.
I put this book at the top of my best read books ever because I believe in it and I believe in her message.
I want to add that I am not Jewish so I am not stating this from what some might still consider to be a biased point of view. I am stating the above because I am a lover of excellent books and brave people who overcome hatred with love and who have the courage to look into their past regardless of what they know they might find.
Diane Armstrong is a superb writer. In gifting us with her history,she
has been catapulted to the top of my best-read writers of all time.
..

.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ed33258) out of 5 stars a pivotal epic of suffering, survival and renewal in Jewish history. 26 Aug. 2009
By Gary Selikow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Diane Armstrong traces the history of her family over a hundred years in what is far more more than merely a family a saga but is indeed a pivotal epic of suffering, survival and renewal in Jewish history.
It explores the grand range of human emotions from hope, humour, friendship , love and tenderness to anger, fear, hate, pain and loss.

The real life epic begins in in Krakow, Poland, 1890 when the author's grandfather, when the author's grandfather ,Daniel Baldinger, divorces Reizel, his wife of ten years, because of their inability to produce children, and marries Leiba Spira, the pretty and industrious young daughter of a shopkeeper in his community.
Daniel and Leiba are blessed with a comfortable home and 11 fine children, and this well rounded and beautifully written account takes us through the generations of Dian Armstrong's family, imbibing the reader with the richness of Polish Jewish life, the hopes and trials of the family through the horrors and destruction of the Holocaust and the tenuous survival in hiding of the author as a three year old girl and her parents, posing as Polish Catholics, at the time when the discovery of their being Jewish would have meant certain death.
Through the courage of a young Catholic priest, Father Soszynski and a community that does not betray them, the author's family survive tenuously, against overwhelming odds.
The Nazis and their willing helpers had succeeded in destroying the Jews of Europe, only 250 000 Jews remained alive, of the 3 million that had lived in Poland. In the words of Diane Armstrong "In concentration camps, death camps, ghettos, forest groves, hillsides. villages and cities, six million innocent people had been gassed, beaten, tortured, mutilated, set on fire, buried alive and starved".
And after the war, those Jews that survived in Poland still lived in terror and insecurity. 1500 Jews were murdered by fellow Poles- tiny children were thrown through third floor windows, the wombs of pregnant women ripped open and old people and teenagers battered to death.
3 years after the war, the author, at nine years old, and her family, travelled by ship to Australia where they settled. The author recalls how they could not embark at Port Said, as five Arab armies had attacked the fledgling state of Israel, and in Egypt, as in the rest of the Arab world, all Jews were regarded as enemies.

Many of the author's family made their homes in Israel, as did the majority of Holocaust survivors, and Israel is the where the majority of the descendants of Holocaust survivors live today.
Diane Armstrong's cousin Krysia and her husband Marcel Ginzig describe the importance of making their home in Israel in the pioneering days of the 1950's at a time when ideals meant everything in Israel ,and regardless of material positions and professional status, everyone understood each other and shared a similar past and common goals.
As Marcel recounts "No power on earth can make me leave Israel. Maybe this sounds funny but I was afraid of being a Jew again. Here among Jews, I was an Israeli, I wasn't going to become a Canadian Jew. Maybe I would have been better off in Canada. Certainly I would have led a quieter safer life without wars, hostile Arabs and intifadas, and my granddaughters wouldn't be going into the army.
After the passing of Diane's mother, the author revisited Poland, to retrace her families past, and help fill in the gaps. Here she met Father Soszynski who had saved her and her family. she retraced most of her family's past there, and met with both hostility and friendliness from the people there.
Today there is much openness in Poland towards revisiting the past, and a ken interest among young Poles in Jewish history and culture, as well a strong alliance between the democracies of Israel and Poland. Also, as the author points out, 'Jewish blood runs silently and secretly through millions of Polish veins'
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ed86abc) out of 5 stars Interesting how the author's gender makes the book more real 3 Aug. 2010
By Mary McGreevey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Many Holocaust biographies and autobiographies seem to be written by men, and the male Jewish perspective often downplays the importance of the women's characters, desires, wishes, actions, decisions, motivations, work, education, etc. You can read this book with a certain delight in noting that she does not spare her male ancestors the usual jabs at character deficiencies that most male-written books aim at the women. For example, she tries to explain at least somewhat the submissive nature of her grandmother, Lieba, Daniel's second wife, who produced the 11 children and suffered from the sheer exhaustion of it. She interviews the grown children of this couple and gets the daughters' points of view on their father, that his sex drive must have been enormous. This is not the usual comment about a male ancestor in a Holocaust novel: too judgmental. That he was also too cheap and very harsh with his children, in spite of a good income from his pipe-installation business, is a grudge brought up countless times: she does not spare the males any criticism. She makes his endless consultation with rabbis on tough questions seem silly at best, dangerous at worst - not dealing with his children appropriately; instead, obsessing with the rules of religion rather than health and well-being.

These are the opening chapters of a long novel about a Polish Jewish family, their fight to survive the Holocaust after invasion of Poland, and their subsequent triumphs abroad. It's exciting reading, but permeated with a realism that an aware female descendant brought to her analysis of her own family. She openly admits that her aunts and uncles (these 11 kids) were not happy so much would be revealed about their real lives and its pettiness, cheapness, fighting and scraping.

As a reader whose own ancestors have the name Armstrong, I say BRAVO! to this author for telling us the truth of a less-than-happy Jewish family, so that they seem MORE REAL than the usual heroic-type stories. Not only is she eager to do so, she writes almost pell-mell headlong into things, as if chatting to us personally at a dinner table. One could criticize the writing as less than perfect, but that too, all the more, gives a wonderful feeling of hearing a true, uneditted family story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ed86de0) out of 5 stars Must read. 4 Feb. 2007
By H. Nadav - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A well written and researched true story. Many, who have grown up after the holocaust, will find it hard to imagine what people went through only a generation ago . Diane was fortunate enough to have many members of her extended family survive (though they have scattered around the world in their effort to do so) and we are fortunate she has written the story of their survival. Readers that are fearful of books about the holocaust that have gruesome details can easily read the book as it is more a book about survival.
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