When God Looked the Other Way: An Odyssey of War, Exile, and Redemption

University of Chicago Press
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Often overlooked in accounts of World War II is the Soviet Union's quiet yet brutal campaign against Polish citizens, a campaign that included, we now know, war crimes for which the Soviet and Russian governments only recently admitted culpability. Standing in the shadow of the Holocaust, this episode of European history is often overlooked. Wesley Adamczyk's gripping memoir, When God Looked the Other Way, now gives voice to the hundreds of thousands of victims of Soviet barbarism.

Adamczyk was a young Polish boy when he was deported with his mother and siblings from their comfortable home in Luck to Soviet Siberia in May of 1940. His father, a Polish Army officer, was taken prisoner by the Red Army and eventually became one of the victims of the Katyn massacre, in which tens of thousands of Polish officers were slain at the hands of the Soviet secret police. The family's separation and deportation in 1940 marked the beginning of a ten-year odyssey in which the family endured fierce living conditions, meager food rations, chronic displacement, and rampant disease, first in the Soviet Union and then in Iran, where Adamczyk's mother succumbed to exhaustion after mounting a harrowing escape from the Soviets. Wandering from country to country and living in refugee camps and the homes of strangers, Adamczyk struggled to survive and maintain his dignity amid the horrors of war.

When God Looked the Other Way is a memoir of a boyhood lived in unspeakable circumstances, a book that not only illuminates one of the darkest periods of European history but also traces the loss of innocence and the fight against despair that took root in one young boy. It is also a book that offers a stark picture of the unforgiving nature of Communism and its champions. Unflinching and poignant, When God Looked the Other Way will stand as a testament to the trials of a family during wartime and an intimate chronicle of episodes yet to receive their historical due.

“Adamczyk recounts the story of his own wartime childhood with exemplary precision and immense emotional sensitivity, presenting the ordeal of one family with the clarity and insight of a skilled novelist. . . . I have read many descriptions of the Siberian odyssey and of other forgotten wartime episodes. But none of them is more informative, more moving, or more beautifully written than When God Looked the Other Way.”—From the Foreword by Norman Davies, author of Europe: A History and Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw

“A finely wrought memoir of loss and survival.”—Publishers Weekly

“Adamczyk’s unpretentious prose is well-suited to capture that truly awful reality.” —Andrew Wachtel, Chicago Tribune Books

“Mr. Adamczyk writes heartfelt, straightforward prose. . . . This book sheds light on more than one forgotten episode of history.”—Gordon Haber, New York Sun

“One of the most remarkable World War II sagas I have ever read. It is history with a human face.”—Andrew Beichman, Washington Times

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Wesley Adamczyk is a retired chemist and tax consultant who lives in Illinois. He is also a champion bridge player.
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Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Jul 10, 2015
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780226341507
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
History / General
History / Military / World War II
History / Russia & the Former Soviet Union
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Anne Frank
The diary as Anne Frank wrote it. At last, in a  new translation, this definitive edition contains  entries about Anne's burgeoning sexuality and  confrontations with her mother that were cut from  previous editions. Anne Frank's The Diary of a  Young Girl is among the most enduring  documents of the twentieth century. Since its  publication in 1947, it has been a beloved and deeply  admired monument to the indestructible nature of the  human spirit, read by millions of people and  translated into more than fifty-five languages.  Doubleday, which published the first English translation  of the diary in 1952, now offers a new translation  that captures Anne's youthful spirit and restores  the original material omitted by Anne's father,  Otto -- approximately thirty percent of the diary.  The elder Frank excised details about Anne's  emerging sexuality, and about the often-stormy relations  between Anne and her mother. Anne Frank and her  family, fleeing the horrors of Nazi occupation  forces, hid in the back of an Amsterdam office building  for two years. This is Anne's record of that time.  She was thirteen when the family went into the  "Secret Annex," and in these pages, she grows  to be a young woman and proves to be an insightful  observer of human nature as well. A timeless story  discovered by each new generation, The  Diary of a Young Girl stands without peer.  For young readers and adults, it continues to  bring to life this young woman, who for a time  survived the worst horrors the modern world had seen -- and  who remained triumphantly and heartbreakingly  human throughout her ordeal.


From the Hardcover edition.
Mamie Till-Mobley
The mother of Emmett Till recounts the story of her life, her son’s tragic death, and the dawn of the civil rights movement—with a foreword by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old African American, Emmett Till, was visiting family in Mississippi when he was kidnapped from his bed in the middle of the night by two white men and brutally murdered. His crime: allegedly whistling at a white woman in a convenience store. The killers were eventually acquitted.

What followed altered the course of this country’s history—and it was all set in motion by the sheer will, determination, and courage of Mamie Till-Mobley, whose actions galvanized the civil rights movement, leaving an indelible mark on our racial consciousness. Death of Innocence is an essential document in the annals of American civil rights history, and a painful yet beautiful account of a mother’s ability to transform tragedy into boundless courage and hope.

Praise for Death of Innocence

“A testament to the power of the indestructible human spirit [that] speaks as eloquently as the diary of Anne Frank.”—The Washington Post Book World

“With this important book, [Mamie Till-Mobley] has helped ensure that the story of her son (and her own story) will not soon be forgotten. . . . A riveting account of a tragedy that upended her life and ultimately the Jim Crow system.”—Chicago Tribune

“The book will . . . inform or remind people of what a courageous figure for justice [Mamie Till-Mobley] was and how important she and her son were to setting the stage for the modern-day civil rights movement.”—The Detroit News

“Poignant . . . In his mother’s descriptions, Emmett becomes more than an icon; he becomes a living, breathing youngster—any mother’s child.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Powerful . . . [Mamie Till-Mobley’s] courage transformed her loss into a moral compass for a nation.”—Black Issues Book Review

Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Special Recognition • BlackBoard Nonfiction Book of the Year
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