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Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and Love Reclaimed [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Leslie Maitland

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17. April 2012

   On a pier in Marseille in 1942, with desperate refugees pressing to board one of the last ships to escape France before the Nazis choked off its ports, an 18-year-old German Jewish girl was pried from the arms of the Catholic Frenchman she loved and promised to marry.  As the Lipari carried Janine and her family to Casablanca on the first leg of a perilous journey to safety in Cuba, she would read through her tears the farewell letter that Roland had slipped in her pocket: “Whatever the length of our separation, our love will survive it, because it depends on us alone. I give you my vow that whatever the time we must wait, you will be my wife. Never forget, never doubt.” 
   Five years later – her fierce desire to reunite with Roland first obstructed by war and then, in secret, by her father and brother – Janine would build a new life in New York with a dynamic American husband.  That his obsession with Ayn Rand tormented their marriage was just one of the reasons she never ceased yearning to reclaim her lost love.  
   Investigative reporter Leslie Maitland grew up enthralled by her mother’s accounts of forbidden romance and harrowing flight from the Nazis. Her book is both a journalist’s vivid depiction of a world at war and a daughter’s pursuit of a haunting question: what had become of the handsome Frenchman whose picture her mother continued to treasure almost fifty years after they parted? It is a tale of memory that reporting made real and a story of undying love that crosses the borders of time.

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“One of those sweeping, epic, romantic novels that seems tailor-made for the Oscars and a long summer afternoon.  Except it’s real!  Leslie Maitland has the rare ability to bring history, adventure, and love alive.” —Bruce Feiler, New York Times best-selling author of Walking the Bible and Abraham

“How the small flame of an undying love can illuminate the darkness of a tragic era. This elegantly told story is for everyone." —James Carroll, New York Times best-selling author of Jerusalem, Jerusalem and Constantine’s Sword

“A mesmerizing memoir of one family's shattering experience during World War II.  It's a tale at once heartbreaking and uplifting.” —Linda Fairstein, New York Times best-selling author of Silent Mercy

“Not only original social history of a high order, but one of the most poignant love-lost, love-found stories I have ever read, with an ending that Hollywood wouldn't dare.” —Robert MacNeil, Journalist-author

“Maitland is a brilliant reporter who knows what questions to ask and how to get her story.  Written with the precision of a historian, the result is a work I could not put down and scarcely wanted to end.” —Michael Berenbaum, former director of the Holocaust Research Institute at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

“A love affair thwarted by war, distance and a disapproving family became the defining story of Leslie Maitland’s mother's life, and by extension, her own.  What happens next is surprising indeed.” —Cokie Roberts, NPR and ABC News analyst and author.

“A poignantly rendered, impeccably researched tale of a rupture healed by time.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This is a worthy testament to how war and displacement conspire against personal happiness.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Maitland’s personal account of  her family is a major contribution to history interlaced with a lovely love story.” –Arts and Leisure News

“This is a fascinating story of thwarted love, longing, and the travails of one woman and one family within the broader context of war and persecution. Maitland includes a treasury of old family photographs and documents to enhance this incredible story of the gauzy intersection of memory and fact.” –Vanessa Bush, Booklist (starred review)

“[Maitland] writes with a clear, candid journalist’s eye and manages to remove herself from the story, yet place herself into the narrative at the same time. [She] writes...with insight and honesty. She closes this noteworthy read with poetic understanding and gentleness.” –Jewish Book Council
Schindler’s List meets Casablanca in this tale of a daughter’s epic search for her mother’s prewar beau-50 years later.” –Good Housekeeping

“[A] gripping account of undying love-a tale of memory that reporting made real.” –Town & Country

Crossing the Borders of Time is more beautiful than a novel because of the power of its true story and the richness with which it is told.” –Neal Gendler, The American Jewish World

“A gripping true-life tale of victims of Nazi persecution and one survivor's quest for her lost love.” –Shelf Awareness

“Sometimes the truth is not “stranger than fiction” but more compelling than fiction, and that’s the case here.  Any reader who likes exciting World War II drama and a good love story will be drawn to this book. Well written and captivating, its story will stay with readers well after the book is finished.” –Library Journal
“An absorbing true account of romance, resilience, and survival during the years leading up to and during World War II, set against the backdrop of the Holocaust and the harrowing social history of mid-20th-century France.” –The Daily Beast

Crossing the Borders of Time will bewitch you. There is no fictionalized account of long-lost love that could be as compelling as this valentine to Leslie Maitland’s parents and the sad situations that threatened to ruin their moral compasses throughout their entire lives. Simply put, this is an unforgettable tale.” –Book Reporter

"Crossing the Borders of Time is a hair-raising tale of escape and survival, where crossing a border means everything. But sometimes, in this complicated world of loss, change and missed opportunities, it is just as amazing that love can make it across the biggest border of all: the border of time. Highly recommended." -American Girls Art Club in Paris

"The author makes fine use of her journalistic skills to conduct the search and to write about it, producing a narrative that is both informative and electrifying. History and the family saga combine in an informative and heart-warming tale that grips the reader's attention." -Indianapolis Jewish Post & Opinion

"This book gives a valuable window into how real people coped with war and also tells a compelling love story with modern twists. I highly recommend it." -Book Buzz

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Leslie Maitland is an award-winning former New York Times investigative reporter and national correspondent who covered the Justice Department. She appears regularly on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR to discuss literature. She lives with her husband in Bethesda, Maryland.


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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.2 von 5 Sternen  168 Rezensionen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Love Survives the Horrors of Nazi Europe 18. April 2012
Von David Kinchen - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Maybe I'm being chauvinistic, but as a reporter since 1966, I've long believed that news people make the best writers. Think Ernest Hemingway, honing his writing and reporting skills at the Kansas City Star and the Toronto Star. And think Leslie Maitland, a prize-winning former investigative reporter for the New York Times whose "Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and Love Reclaimed" is a panoramic work of nonfiction that I believe Hemingway would have been proud to put his name on. The book has the power of "War and Peace," the movie "Casablanca" and the romanticism of "Doctor Zhivago" -- reading like a novel but with the resonance of reality.

Maitland used all the skills she acquired as reporter to tell the story of how her German Jewish mother, born Johanna Gunzburger in Freiburg, Germany, in 1923 managed to flee the Nazi killing machine in 1938, with her father, mother, sister and brother, landing first in Mulhouse, France, moving as the Germans defeated the French in June 1940, finally leaving on the last ship out of Marseille, France in 1942 before the harbors were sealed.

Barred from entering the U.S. due to an indifferent FDR administration and an actively anti-Semitic State Department under Cordell Hull, the Gunzburger family -- father Samuel Sigmar Gunzburger, a German Army WWI veteran, his wife Alice, their daughters Gertrude (Trudi) and Johanna (later Janine) and their son Norbert -- spent more than a year in a Cuban detention camp before finally securing papers allowing them to move to Miami and later New York City.

As a child, Leslie learned of her mother's first love, called Roland Arcieri in the book, a French Catholic who tried to contact Janine when she was pregnant with the future investigative reporter. Janine -- she adopted the French name because of her love of France -- and her family had settled in Washington Heights, at the extreme northern tip of Manhattan. Now heavily Hispanic, Washington Heights was the home of so many German Jewish refugees during and immediately after World War II that it was ironically dubbed "The Fourth Reich."

Janine Gunzburger was so lacking in the stereotypical Jewish features that Nazi propagandists popularized that Mona, the blunt-spoken sister of her future husband, Leonard Maitland, remarked to the doctor for whom Janine was working "Too bad she's a shiksa [Gentile]. If she were only Jewish, I'd fix her up with my brother." Mona went on to describe Leonard -- born Friedman -- as a cross between "Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant." In the complicated world of Judaism, Janine's parents at first objected to her future husband's Eastern European Jewish origins; German Jews considered themselves to be at the top of the pecking order.

A moving part of Leslie Maitland's memoir is her portrayal of her father, Leonard. He had served in the Merchant Marine during World War II, in wartime a branch of the military that sustained more casualties than any other service branch. In spite of this, Merchant Marine veterans were denied benefits under the G.I. Bill of Rights, including health benefits for people exposed to deadly asbestos on the ships. Trained as an engineer, Leonard Maitland was a Type-A hard-charging businessman who had a heart attack in his forties and died before his time of cancer -- he was born in 1918 and died in 1990.

Maitland encouraged his daughter in her pursuit of higher education and was so proud of her career at the New York Times that he carried clips of her stories in his wallet and showed them to everybody. The realistic portrait of Leonard Maitland includes his daughter's account of his love of Ayn Rand's Objectivism philosophy -- which she calls a "cult" -- and his womanizing. It's apparent that Len Maitland, who modeled himself on Howard Roark in Rand's "Atlas Shrugged", resented the role Roland Arcieri played in his wife's life and even initiated a "tearing up party" (Page 315) where Janine was coerced into tearing up photographs of Roland and love letters from him. The author says her mother had made the "selfish mistake" of telling her new suitor Leonard about "his past rival, a confession with permanent impact on the course of their marriage." The author is nothing if not brutally honest about the details of the lives of her mother and father -- a mark of a good reporter!

I noticed that Maitland has included in the bibliography Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's best-selling "Hitler's Willing Executioners" (Knopf, 1996), about ordinary Germans who went along with the murderous anti-Semitism of Nazi Germany. I read and reviewed the book when it was published and I thought it explained many details glossed over in the post-World War II rehabilitation of Germans and Germany, as well as the countries, like Vichy France, that collaborated with the Nazis. Maitland also includes accounts of "ordinary" Germans and French who defied the Germans and their collaborators in Vichy France to save Jews from the death factories.

She also chronicles the reconciliation visits where German cities, including Freiburg, hosted their exiled former residents. The receptions were almost uniformly friendly, yet one major exception, she writes, was the Glatt family, the Gentiles who acquired Sigmar Gunzburger's prospering home supply firm in the forced "Aryanization" that led the Gunzburgers to flee Germany. The Glatts stated in their brochures that the multi-office firm was "founded" in 1938 -- the year Sigmar was forced out of the firm he had founded with his brother Heinrich in 1919, on his return from the war. Freiburg's synagogue -- consecrated in 1885 -- was destroyed by the Nazis in 1938 and had been replaced with a modern structure, but the "reconciliation" visits were marred by desecrations of the city's Jewish cemetery.

A particularly moving passage in "Crossing the Borders of Time" occurs on a pier in Marseille in 1942, with desperate refugees pressing to board one of the last ships to escape France before the Nazis choked off its ports, the 18-year-old Janine was pried from the arms of Roland, a man she loved and promised to marry. As the Lipari carried Janine and her family to Casablanca on the first leg of a perilous journey to safety in Cuba, she would read through her tears the farewell letter that Roland had slipped in her pocket: "Whatever the length of our separation, our love will survive it, because it depends on us alone. I give you my vow that whatever the time we must wait, you will be my wife. Never forget, never doubt." Fans of the 1942 movie "Casablanca" will relate to the scene, comparing it to the scene where Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, waits in the rain in Paris for Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) as he makes his escape by the last train out of beseiged Paris.

Fifty years after the Marseille events, Leslie's efforts reunited the widowed Janine and the married -- for the second time -- Roland, now living in Montreal, Canada. It is a testimony to both Maitland's investigative skills and her devotion to her mother that she successfully traced the lost Roland and was able to reunite him with Janine. Unlike so many stories of love during wartime, theirs has a happy ending.
51 von 54 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen super memoir 17. April 2012
Von Harriet Klausner - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
German Jew Janine loved her life in Freiberg. However, in 1938, the Nazis forced fifteen year old Janine and her family to flee across the border settling in Mulhouse, France. There she met her first love nineteen year old Catholic law student Roland Arcieri. Her family fled to Gray and then Lyon as the Nazis annex Alsace Lorraine. In 1941 in Lyon she and Roland meet again and remain attracted to one another. One year later, Janine and her family flee to Marseilles and then America. Unbeknownst to Janine, her father and brother insured she would not meet Roland again as they intercept his letters. Janine marries a philandering Ayn Rand advocate and one of their children Leslie Maitland supported by her brother Gary and her husband Dan begins the odyssey of finding her mom's first love who lives in Montreal.

This is a superior memoir with an intriguing quest in which the vividly harrowing descriptions of the Jewish plight during WWII overshadow the forbidden love affair and the failed marriage. Timely with the insight into refugee displacement and exile due to war, this is a triumph of love and survivor though it took five decades for the former to catch up to the latter.

Harriet Klausner
32 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Brilliant study of a family and the times... 29. April 2012
Von Jill Meyer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
Leslie Maitland's "Crossing the Borders of Time" is a superb book about the fluidity of family, love, and home. Maitland, a former NYT reporter, has written about her mother's family and the physical journey the took from Germany into exile and the memories - both positive and painful - they took with them. And she writes of their new life in the United States, where they brought those memories and connections.

Maitland's book actually covers several subjects - the life in Germany and then France in the run-up to WW2 - as well as how the Gunzburger family made their way in perilous times and conditions to the United States via north Africa, with a short stay in Cuba. The book continues with their post-war life, including Leslie's parents' difficult marriage, which was plagued by infidelity; her mother's continued yearning for the love of her life, a young Catholic man she left behind in France and by her father's physical infidelity with several women and by his emotional one with the teachings of author Ayn Rand.

Maitland's book covers so much territory and all of it painted with a deft hand. One of the most interesting parts to me is her telling of returning to Germany and France with her parents in the early 1990's. They returned to the cities of Freiburg in Germany where her mother was born in 1923 and raised until the 1930's when the family fled to the (perceived) safety of Mulhouse, France. (Maitland covered the trip in a series of articles for the NYT, which I vaguely remember reading and thinking they were interesting. I didn't think I'd be reading 20 years later a book about the family.) As the family traveled, they returned to the places of Janine's childhood and met friends and family - both Jewish and Christian - who had survived the war years and had had to come to terms with the Nazi era and whatever part they played in those years.

Some of the "reunions" were happy ones and some were sad. They saw the business that Janine's father had to turn over to Nazi-approved Christian ownership when they left Freiburg for France and how the "Jewish past" had been erased in the company's history. They visited the house they owned in Freiburg - originally standing next to a hotel - and toured it. The house had been divided into apartments after the war, and in one of the apartments, they met one of Janine's childhood Christian playmates. The woman, Rosemarie Stock, whose family had owned the hotel next door, was not glad to see her old friend, returned to Germany for what reason? Did she want the family house back? Rosemarie rather querulously informs Janine that her father had paid Janine's father "good money" for the house back in the 1930's. ("Good money" at the time was a pittance of the true worth of the house.) Rosemarie also proudly showed the Maitland family the picture of her in full Deutche Maiden regalia, hanging on the living room wall. BUT what was impressive to me as a reader of 20th century history, was the attitude of Stock's SON. Born after the war, Michael Stock was one of the postwar generation of Germans who studied and learned from the horrors of the Nazi era. I have read about and met members of this generation - MY generation - and have been impressed about the soul-searching they've done to understand and not repeat the past. So we have the Maitland family meeting the two divergent generations of Germans - the Nazi-sympathising mother and her son, who has seemed to learn the lessons of the past.

Maitland's book covers so much more than I've written above. Returning to Germany and France on reunion trips is only a small piece of it. She fearlessly looks at her parents' difficult marriage but writes about the improbable love between the two. And, she writes about the love of her mother's life - "Roland Acieri" - the Frenchman she left behind in Marsailles in 1942 but never forgot. I am not saying any more on the subject...

Leslie Maitland has written a book that looks at the generations of Jews - and some Christians - and how families form and tear-apart through the years. It is a brilliant book. And reading it reminds me of another book on much the same subject, Donald Katz's "Home Fires", the study of one family in post-war America. An epic picture of a family in joy and distress, it is out-of-print, but available on Amazon. Buy Maitland's book, and buy Katz's book, if you're interested in truly learning about 20th century families.
24 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An Amazing Reading Experience 19. April 2012
Von R. De Winter - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Rush to buy Leslie Maitland's wonderful book. As a die-hard fiction reader, I wasn't sure that I'd like this non-fiction memoir. But because Leslie Maitland is a fabulously talented writer, the book told a story that kept me mesmerized and I didn't want it to end. Maitland's research is exemplary in describing how Jews managed to save themselves from the impending Nazi occupation. And the love story of her mother and long-lost love is completely engaging and dear. This is the best work of non-fiction I've read in many years and I salute the author for telling such a compelling story. I hope it becomes a movie! I see Meryl Streep playing Janine, Natalie Portman playing Leslie and Hugh Laurie playing Roland.
17 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Classic Storytelling at its Best 24. April 2012
Von Chaviva G. - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I'm not done with the book yet, but I'm about halfway through and I'm perfectly keen on writing this review before I finish it because it's absolutely amazing. A can't-put-it-down kind of read, which I attribute to the author's background as an investigative journalist. I find that journalists make the best book authors, because their talent is simply stretched out over hundreds of pages rather than across a broadsheet.

The book tells the true story of the author's maternal ancestors and their experiences prior to, during, and after the Holocaust. The family hails from the fine line between Germany and France, Maitland's mother grows up bouncing back between two worlds until they are no longer welcome in France as Germans and no longer welcome in Germany as Jews. Their journey from Europe to Cuba and on to the U.S. is harrowing, shocking, and Maitland describes it in vivid detail. And the entire story is told through a lost-love narrative between Maitland's Jewish mother and her Alsatian Catholic love. A few times I had to stop and sit back to remind myself that Maitland herself wasn't there; her storytelling is that good.

I've learned some shocking things about the experience of Alsatians, French and German Jews, and those caught between France and Germany during Hitler's reign. Did you know that when the Nazis went to France, they basically walked straight in to Paris without firing a shot? That they turned the clocks of France to German time? (So much for time zones, eh?)

Also: There are some outstanding pictures and documents in this book, thanks to Maitland's family's penchant for holding on to important, meaningful family paperwork. It really makes the story come to life.

If you appreciate a good storyteller, if you appreciate history, if you appreciate love lost and found, then I definitely suggest you find a copy of this book and get to it. It's hard to put down, I guarantee you that, so make sure you find a long, nice day to curl up outside with the book and some coffee.
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