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Hardcover Ten Green Bottles: The True Story of One Family's Journey from War-Torn Austria to the Ghettos of Shanghai Book

ISBN: 0312330545

ISBN13: 9780312330545

Ten Green Bottles: The True Story of One Family's Journey from War-Torn Austria to the Ghettos of Shanghai

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Ten Green Bottles is the story of Nini Karpel's struggles as she told it to her daughter Vivian Jeanette Kaplan so many years ago. This true story depicts the fierce perseverance of one family,... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

An eye opening book

I found this book fascinating. It helps one to see how this Jewish family survived during the war. I would recommend this to anyone interested in Holocaust stories.

Decadence and Poverty of Wartime Shanghai

I thoroughly enjoyed "Ten Green Bottles". Unlike other books on Shanghai of that period, I particularly relished the intimate glimpse of the extreme wealth and decadence that was ongoing alongside the abject poverty of the immigrants that fled Europe. Much is written here of how people of many nations with unimaginable wealth made Shanghai their "sumptuous playground" between the stench and filth of the city. In particular, the author's description of the Bolero Club through the eyes of Nini, who worked as a hostess there, was so exciting and so descriptive and so alive that I was sure I was in the room with some of the most powerful men and glamorous women of the time. Her detailed description of the opium den next door, a "grand salon" established exclusively for the very rich, is breathtaking. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to live the Shanghai of World War II from its lows to its highs.

A story that should not be forgotten

This story about the experiences of a Viennese Jewish family in Shanghai perfectly fulfills two raison d'etre of books - on the one hand it allows the reader to enter a time-warp machine and be transplanted to another time and another place and vicariously live through the emotional upheavals, the smells, sights, sounds and most importantly the feelings of fear, frustration, Angst and yes, fortunately also joy, of the main characters. Vivian Kaplan is a master of setting the scene and allowing the reader to slip into the protagonist's skin. I have lived and worked in Vienna and also in Northern China (albeit at a much later time) and Vivian's writing rings true. The chapters in the book are like 3-D images conjured up for the reader (and would make a very gripping screenplay). The other raison d'etre of books is to preserve and hand down important happenings and narrate them in a gripping and thought-provoking manner. The manner in which the Jews in Austria and elsewhere were treated by an Austrian madman who managed to come to power in Germany should never be forgotten. More importantly, we all need to be vigilant that such events happen less and less frequently in the history of humankind. Although familiar with the story of displaced Jews from German-speaking countries as I (like the author) am offspring, I was unable to put down the book. What Nini Karpel's mother had to experience in one short lifetime is more than most people should have to live through. The book also helped me understand the initial inertia of many Jews in Vienna to the anti-Semitic flare-up in the 1920s and 30s. "Oh, we've seen this many times, let's just lie low and wait for it to blow over". Writing in the present tense made the story more immediate. However, despite the fact that the book had its share of gruesome scenes, overall the manner in which Nini viewed the world seemed overly rosy-colored and syrupy sweet. The naive tone that permeates the book distracts from the serious situation in which these refugees find themselves. Even a five-year old would know better than to state 'we are awed by the changes in the baby within his first year. Every day he seems to learn some new word...' p.5. Should the book get reprinted, I suggest a German-speaking editor correct some of the German words. The great Ferris wheel in Vienna is no 'Reisenrad' p.77 and the 'Fuhrer' should be spelled 'Fuehrer'. But overall we are better off for having another story capture the senseless suffering human beings will inflict upon one another.

A Very Outstanding Book

Ten Green Bottles is one of the most powerful, emotional, fascinating and beautifully written books I have ever read. Where has this author been? The story begins in the early 1920s in Vienna where a five year old Jewish girl, called Nini, begins to experience what it is to be the youngest of three sisters. It is written in Nini's voice and throughout the book you seem to live every moment of her life as if you were in her skin. You laugh, cry, feel and experience everything that happens to her as if it were happening to you, yet the book is non-fiction. The story tells of her life in a growing family and the hardships of her mother in raising her children and carrying on their business after her father's death. As Nini grows into her teenage years, your senses are filled with the excitement of Vienna and the thrill of skiing in the mountains nearby. Then the Nazis come and everything changes. As Jews are now considered vermin, they must flee the city or they will surely die. With the help of a gentile lawyer they are able to leave Vienna for Shanghai. On arriving in this no-man's land with almost no money, they find themselves in the middle of another war between China and Japan. Living in squalor and trying to survive, their life is made even more miserable. Japan, an ally of Germany, forces them and about 20,000 other Jews into a small ghetto with over 100,000 of the poorest Chinese. The story tells of their life and the life of the Jewish community as they try to make it through to the end of the war under the most deplorable conditions imaginable. They are eventually liberated by the Americans and stay until the Communist takeover in the late 1940s when they leave. The story ends with their exceptionally well written arrival in the white winter of Canada where they do not have to fear anymore. I read a lot and to me this book was a literary masterpiece. I also learned about a very interesting part of the Holocaust that I had not known.

A film on paper

An interesting change from the Western refugee tales. The author writes in her her mother's voice, which is risky, but it rings fairly true. By starting her story well before the war the author creates a relationship with her characters in advance of the events leading to their emigration. Her mother is a fan of Gone With The Wind, and Ten Green Bottles reads like a 1930's epic film. You can see all the 30's/40's actors in the roles of her family. Very engaging style and very informative - I learned things I had not known and considered things I knew differently. I'm off to find other biography dealing with Chinese bound European refugees.

Ten Green Bottles

This book is a riviting account of a family's struggle to survive in a war-torn Europe in the late 1930's. It is a true story, written with love and empathy by the heroine's daughter. This is a story not to be missed. It is definitely the best book I have read in a long while.
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