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Summary

After the death of Joanie Holzer Schirm's parents in 2000, she found hundreds of letters, held together by rusted paperclips and stamped with censor marks, sent from Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, China, and South and North America, along with journals, vintage film, taped interviews, and photographs. In working through these various materials documenting the life of her father, Oswald "Valdik" Holzer, she learned of her family history through his remarkable experiences of exile and loss, resilience and hope.

In this posthumous memoir, Schirm elegantly recreates her father's youthful voice as he comes of age as a Jew in interwar Prague, escapes from a Nazi-held army unit, practices medicine in China's war-ravaged interior, and settles in the United States to start a family. Introducing us to a diverse cast of characters ranging from the humorous to the menacing, Holzer's life story is an inspirational account of survival during wartime, a cinematic epic spanning multiple continents, and ultimately a tale with a twist-a book that will move listeners for generations to come.

©2019 Joanie Holzer Schirm (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about My Dear Boy

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Brought to life

The author has brought to life her father and other family members in a wonderfully happy and terribly sad story.
He would be very proud of this book.

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Beautifully read and captivating true story

Beautifully read, beautifully detailed; this book does an excellent job of placing you within the web of historical events, contacts and trials of someone fleeing hideous persecution yet still trying to help others less fortunate in a far off land, retaining a humanity that is so important to his loved ones and a core value. His efforts to aid family and friends; his good fortune in meeting the love of his life and everything that follows is brought to life and a worthy tribute.

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A wonderful insight

Such a sad tale but excellently compiled by the author. Opening up history in this manner is amazing. I also enjoyed learning more about the war in China with Japan. Thank you.

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  • toni
  • 29-03-19

The sides of WWII you might never have read

The author Joanie Schirm, has taken us on a journey from Moravia/ Bohemia from the First World War through the journey of her father’s life in escaping the Nazis, to wartime China, to the United States. His life
Of service
And continuing to attempt to volunteer or seek employment continually being rejected while maintaining a positive attitude is remarkable. His wife is a pivotal component in his life that keeps the plates spinning all along.
Remarkably engaging and well worth the time. A fast
Read even though it is filled with facts and detail.
Loved it

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  • marykk
  • 18-03-19

What an adventurous life

Here is a man who was able to overcome life-threatening circumstances and create a new life for himself. It's part travelogue, part history lesson, part love story. You also learn how Czechoslovakia was betrayed by the Allies giving in to Hitler with the mistaken idea that giving away one country to him could create peace. It is hard to imagine how Holzer managed to go from one situation to another when the world was at war. The primary narrator was rather bland, sounding as though he had the book memorized and was narrating by rote.

7 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 24-09-20

Should be required reading in schools

Book puts grim pictures and statistics of Nazi death camps in a family context. Very inspirational a man who lost over 40 of his family mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, aunts and uncle’s wanted to spend the rest of his life serving others.

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  • Keith
  • 15-01-21

Listen to the whole book.

After some time in the book, I thought it was simply a anti-climactic story of an individual’s life. However, as it progresses, I began to feel the weight of what he must have suffered though. Excellent book and well done by his daughter, the author.

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  • Linda
  • 11-12-20

Excellent book

Excellent book for those of us fascinated by the stories of individuals during WWII. Good writing and an engrossing story both heartbreaking and uplifting.

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  • Kate
  • 29-11-20

My dear boy is a fascinating insight

A great addition to the story of the 2 nd world war. When paired with the little Dutch girl. And other books about queen elizabeth, Churchill, Roosevelt and others one begins to understand how freedom from tyranny hangs by a thread!

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  • CQT
  • 20-09-21

Yawn

I don’t get all these positive reviews. This book is so boring. I’ve read a lot of WWII memoirs. This one is so boring and uneventful I couldn’t even finish it.

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  • Monica Mitchell
  • 17-07-22

Fascinating

Well written and read that I felt I was there in the story. Many of us think we know the story of the Holocost but personal stories such as this really bring home the reality of the suffering that took place.

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  • barbara Turner
  • 28-05-22

Tragic story… A little maudlin

This is an interesting story of a life shattered by Hitler but devolved into details about his romantic relationship that are more than needed to have an effective tail.

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  • Sue J. Warrick-smith
  • 22-05-22

A story all should hear

This book touched me deeply with its truth, sincerity, humanity, and family love and respect. It was a pleasant way to review the historical events of that time rather than sitting in a classroom. I loved the description of the beauty of prewar China and the many places that Dr. Holzer lived. It was precious to hear of the innocence and purity of their love and the civility of the interactions of friends and relatives in that period. The contrast between their affectionate behavior toward one another and the horror of the holocaust was heartbreaking. Such barbarity and cruelty inflicted on the Jews and others are unfathomable. It haunts me that it could be repeated here in the United States or elsewhere, where hatred is again raising her Hydra Head.
Joanie Holzer Schirm gave an honorable and loving tribute to her admirable father by publishing his memoirs, adding her excellent research.