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Publisher's Summary

After the death of Joanie Holzer Schirm's parents in 2000, she found hundreds of letters, held together by rusted paperclips and stamped with censor marks, sent from Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, China, and South and North America, along with journals, vintage film, taped interviews, and photographs. In working through these various materials documenting the life of her father, Oswald "Valdik" Holzer, she learned of her family history through his remarkable experiences of exile and loss, resilience and hope.

In this posthumous memoir, Schirm elegantly recreates her father's youthful voice as he comes of age as a Jew in interwar Prague, escapes from a Nazi-held army unit, practices medicine in China's war-ravaged interior, and settles in the United States to start a family. Introducing us to a diverse cast of characters ranging from the humorous to the menacing, Holzer's life story is an inspirational account of survival during wartime, a cinematic epic spanning multiple continents, and ultimately a tale with a twist-a book that will move listeners for generations to come.

©2019 Joanie Holzer Schirm (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about My Dear Boy

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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The sides of WWII you might never have read

The author Joanie Schirm, has taken us on a journey from Moravia/ Bohemia from the First World War through the journey of her father’s life in escaping the Nazis, to wartime China, to the United States. His life
Of service
And continuing to attempt to volunteer or seek employment continually being rejected while maintaining a positive attitude is remarkable. His wife is a pivotal component in his life that keeps the plates spinning all along.
Remarkably engaging and well worth the time. A fast
Read even though it is filled with facts and detail.
Loved it

7 people found this helpful

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What an adventurous life

Here is a man who was able to overcome life-threatening circumstances and create a new life for himself. It's part travelogue, part history lesson, part love story. You also learn how Czechoslovakia was betrayed by the Allies giving in to Hitler with the mistaken idea that giving away one country to him could create peace. It is hard to imagine how Holzer managed to go from one situation to another when the world was at war. The primary narrator was rather bland, sounding as though he had the book memorized and was narrating by rote.

7 people found this helpful

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Should be required reading in schools

Book puts grim pictures and statistics of Nazi death camps in a family context. Very inspirational a man who lost over 40 of his family mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, aunts and uncle’s wanted to spend the rest of his life serving others.

4 people found this helpful

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Listen to the whole book.

After some time in the book, I thought it was simply a anti-climactic story of an individual’s life. However, as it progresses, I began to feel the weight of what he must have suffered though. Excellent book and well done by his daughter, the author.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent book

Excellent book for those of us fascinated by the stories of individuals during WWII. Good writing and an engrossing story both heartbreaking and uplifting.

3 people found this helpful

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My dear boy is a fascinating insight

A great addition to the story of the 2 nd world war. When paired with the little Dutch girl. And other books about queen elizabeth, Churchill, Roosevelt and others one begins to understand how freedom from tyranny hangs by a thread!

2 people found this helpful

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Yawn

I don’t get all these positive reviews. This book is so boring. I’ve read a lot of WWII memoirs. This one is so boring and uneventful I couldn’t even finish it.

1 person found this helpful

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A story all should hear

This book touched me deeply with its truth, sincerity, humanity, and family love and respect. It was a pleasant way to review the historical events of that time rather than sitting in a classroom. I loved the description of the beauty of prewar China and the many places that Dr. Holzer lived. It was precious to hear of the innocence and purity of their love and the civility of the interactions of friends and relatives in that period. The contrast between their affectionate behavior toward one another and the horror of the holocaust was heartbreaking. Such barbarity and cruelty inflicted on the Jews and others are unfathomable. It haunts me that it could be repeated here in the United States or elsewhere, where hatred is again raising her Hydra Head.
Joanie Holzer Schirm gave an honorable and loving tribute to her admirable father by publishing his memoirs, adding her excellent research.

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Incredible story

Ever since finishing this book, I have tried to think what it must have been like for this author to find all this history of a parent in the letters and diaries he left behind. She must have had an idea what he went through, but much of it, I’m sure, was a great surprise to her, and probably made her love her parents that much more. One of my biggest regrets in life is that I never sat down with my grandmother and said, “so Grandma, tell me about your life.” She had a very unique and interesting history as well, but she died when I was only 15, and I wasn’t mature enough to understand what I was losing by not asking her that question when I could, and she left no written histories that I know of. Sad for me.

This book is well written and reads much like a novel. I had to keep reminding myself that this story was taken from bits of information scattered through all kinds of letters, diaries and newspaper clippings, and then put into some sort of cohesive format. It tells a side of the WWII story that I have never heard before, of young Czech refugees escaping to China. I can’t imagine a country with customs and speech more different from my own, and so far away from family and friends! Even though this man, Valdik Holzer, was a doctor, and doctors were desperately needed in China at that time, he still had a difficult time finding work because of his nationality and inability to speak Chinese. He seemed to have problem after problem, but being in China during the war did save his life, and it is where he met his future wife.

It is a very good book. I learned a lot from it and I’m glad I read it. I think Dr. Holzer is a hero in many ways, and I’m sure the people whose lives he saved feel that way as well!

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Profound document for all

This account of one man's story intertwined with thousands of others who lived through the horrific years of natzi insanity was vivid, engulfing, heartwarming and heartbreaking. Narration was excellent.