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            Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose  


A BORDER TOWN IN POLAND -- BOOK REVIEWS



"A memorable memoir -- a fabulous book -- a major work of love and devotion.  Revolutions in Poland, Russia and Germany are described vividly, with their effects. . . . Surviving by smuggling, by [entrepreneurship], by obtaining papers legal and otherwise, are [rendered] . . .like a major [thriller].  Everyone with relatives who came to America to escape persecution will find something . . .remarkable here."

 -- Bonnie Squires

Main Line Times, 30 Nov. 2021


"What stories Hirsch Bieler [and the authors] have to tell!  Some of the most vivid involve Zelde, the ugly but clever crone who ran Grajewo's smuggling business that helped Hirsch survive [Great War] poverty but also resulted in hair-raising narrow escapes. . . .[Through nimble footwork he prospers in Weimar Germany, the Third Reich and British Palestine, eventually reaching the U.S.  Then] the book's final sections reprint his Polish family's heartbreaking 1939-41 letters pleading for help, and recount his desperate doomed attempts to provide it. . . .A tale of displacement, resilience, loss, and hope."

-- Karen Lyon

"Beyond the Pale," [Capitol] Hill Rag, December 2021


"Couldn't put it down.  An amazing and wonderful book.  What an essential contribution to history! -- defies superlatives."

-- Hon. Andrew Maguire

Former Congressman, D-NJ


“An important addition to twentieth century history.  Hirsch Bieler was born in 1900 in Grajewo, a shtetl (town) in Tsarist Poland on Germany’s East Prussian border.  He left in 1919 for a better life in Germany, and the move lights the touch paper for a series of further moves . . . The book is very carefully researched with terrific visuals of maps and family photos rendered by the editors, to carry along a vivid and energising oral history. . . now published in its full glory. It is also a corrective for our overblown times, recounting how the cellar had to be filled with ‘potatoes and cabbage and red beets and carrots, staples that would last. If you were rich, you also bought a couple of sacks of winter apples.’ [Yet] there was meaning if not wealth, and infinite ingenuity to evade, subvert, smuggle across and ultimately to leave the Russian Pale that confined an estimated 5 million Jews by 1897, and which included this one border town within a thousand mile slice of territory."

-- Richard Lofthouse

Editor, Quad (formerly Oxford Today), The Alumni Newsletter of Oxford University (January 2022)


"What a fascinating treasure trove of material you have uncovered and so good you have put it together in the book. And how wonderful to have so many relatives scattered across the world and to be able to connect! I am continually amazed at the archival work done and made available and how important this is to give a flavour of the times our families went through."

-- Lady Esther Gilbert

Historian; co-author, Sir Martin Gilbert, acclaimed Holocaust and European Jewry Historian


"I love this book. I’ve read it twice over and hope to order more!"

-- Paris Singer

Author, Dancer, Philanthropist





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