Joe's War: My Father Decoded
by Annette Kobak
Acclaimed biographer Annette Kobak turns her attention to her own family as she sets out to uncover her father's never-discussed past. A mysterious and conspicuously silent figure in Annette's life for some forty-five years. Joe Kobak at last shared with his daughter his harrowing experiences during World War II, which she has turned into a riveting work of history and memory.
Born on the border of Poland and Czechoslovakia, Joe Kobak fled the Nazis, suffered imprisonment by the Russians, then joined Polish forces fighting in France. Later he escaped to London where he spent the duration of the war intercepting Soviet messages. In Joe's War, his daughter captures Joe Kobak's story in his own words, and interweaves it with her own search for a life story she can make sense of. Embarking upon a challenging and poignant journey of her own--retracing her father's footsteps across a barren and unfamiliar Ukraine--the author sheds light on the dark corners of her family history and on some of the darker aspects of the war, bringing history to life in unexpected ways.
"Admirable. . . Part memoir, part biography, part travelogue and (in its most stirring and valuable sections) part history of the great sorrows and tragedies endured by Czechs and Poles all through the twentieth century. . . Reading this moving, one-of-a-kind work, a reader wants to cheer, in at least three languages."
San Francisco Chronicle
[Kobak] points out that Australia's Aborigines believe that 'our stories are what we are here for.' By finally learning her father's story, she recognizes, her own becomes much richer."
ANNETTE KOBAK has written a biography of the nineteen-century traveler Isabelle Eberhardt and translated her novel Vagabond from the French. She reviews for the New York Times Book Review and The Times Literary Supplement, and she lives in London.
Publishing House: Vintage Books, New York 2005
SoftCover book measuring 5.1" x 8"
445 pages, photographs
English Language Version
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