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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Waltzing Mathilde

Mathilde, my mother, was born in Berlin in 1924. Her father was assassinated by Hitler’s men in 1933. By 1945 she had lost three of her four brothers in the war. She met my father in 1948, a charming Sicilian from Brooklyn who was stationed in Germany with the U.S. occupation troops. He promised to feed her regular meals and take her from the rubble of war torn Germany. She accepted the offer. What she didn’t know was that under his charm was a vicious brute, who beat her and then sent her to work in a sweat shop after they landed in Brooklyn.

Mother escaped my father when she met a wonderful Jewish man, Mootzy, who moved her out of Brooklyn to Shady, New York. Since Mother was not a German Jew, but a German German, this was indeed a strange, but wondrous stroke of luck. 

Shady, a tiny hamlet on the outskirts of Woodstock, is nestled in countryside reminiscent of the rolling hills of England and the pine forests of Germany. Shady & Woodstock was full of artists, musicians and writers, and Mother’s older sister said it was more like Germany before the war, than the Germany of the fifties and sixties.  

But all the beauty of Shady, the luck of surviving the war and escaping my father could not wash away the pain of the price of war. Sitting at Mother’s side as she lay dying, I listened to her war stories. She tried to tell me these stories so many times over the years, but I couldn’t listen then, because I had friends to play with, things to do, and I was, after all, an American, as far removed from the truths of war as any country has ever been. 

Waltzing Mathilde (Non-Fiction)
By Dennis Manuel
Independent Publishing Platform
Price $0.99
148 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“The Story of Love And Sadness.”

Born in 1924 Germany, young Mathilde lost her family to the madness of Hitler, and then had to survive the war, and later the rape and beatings from Russian troops before meeting a young American soldier who took her to America, where she raised two boys in another kind of hell. It wasn’t till they left her abusive husband and moved to Shady, a part of Woodstock, that life settled down some. But the young mother worked two jobs to feed and raise her children.

This is the story of that young woman as remembered by her son, from the stories she told of the war, and her losses: surviving WWII, labor camps, starvation, and the Russians. It is also the story of her love for her sons, and theirs for her. Woodstock consisted of Bearsville, Shady, and Lake Hill, and was an artistic utopia until the music event of 1969, when everything changed.

It is a story of love and sadness, as this mother who suffered so much was still to suffer more in her life when a cancer the size of a football was discovered in her stomach. When we read about WWII and Germany, we only think of the madness that Hitler brought upon the world, but we forget to look at the German people who suffered because of him. The author has brought that reality to us in his memoirs of his life and the suffering his mother endured all her life. It is well written, and gives insight into another reality of that war. Highly recommended for those who study wars, and for those that want to see love come out of something so evil as war. But we should never forget, wars are when parents lose their children, and wives lose their husbands, and children their fathers and mothers. And we should never forget why we never want to go to war again. This is a story well worth reading.

Tom Johnson

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