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Potomac Books


Good Neighbors, Bad Times, Good Neighbors, Bad Times, 0803213743, 0-8032-1374-3, 978-0-8032-1374-6, 9780803213746, Mimi Schwartz , , Good Neighbors, Bad Times, 0803217676, 0-8032-1767-6, 978-0-8032-1767-6, 9780803217676, Mimi Schwartz , , Good Neighbors, Bad Times, 0803226403, 0-8032-2640-3, 978-0-8032-2640-1, 9780803226401, Mimi Schwartz

Good Neighbors, Bad Times
Echoes of My Father's German Village
Mimi Schwartz

2008. 280 pp.
20 b/w photos, 1 recipe
$24.95 t
Out of Stock
2009. 288 pp.
20 illustrations
$19.95 t

Mimi Schwartz grew up on milkshakes and hamburgers—and her father’s boyhood stories. She rarely took the stories seriously. What was a modern American teenager supposed to make of these accounts of a village in Germany where, according to her father, “before Hitler, everyone got along”? It was only many years later, when she heard a remarkable story of the Torah from that very village being rescued by Christians on Kristallnacht, that Schwartz began to sense how much these stories might mean. Thus began a twelve-year quest that covered three continents as Schwartz sought answers in the historical records and among those who remembered that time. Welcomed into the homes of both the Jews who had fled the village fifty years earlier and the Christians who had remained, Schwartz peered into family albums, ate home-baked linzertorte (almost everyone served it!), and heard countless stories about life in one small village before, during, and after Nazi times. Sometimes stories overlapped, sometimes one memory challenged another, but always they seemed to muddy the waters of easy judgment.
Small stories of decency are often overlooked in the wake of a larger historic narrative. Yet we need these stories to provide a moral compass, especially in times of political extremism, when fear and hatred strain the bonds of loyalty and neighborly compassion. How, this book asks, do neighbors maintain a modicum of decency in such times? How do we negotiate evil and remain humane when, as in the Nazi years, hate rules?

Mimi Schwartz is a professor emerita of writing at Richard Stockton College. She is the author of  Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed, available in a Bison Books edition, and Writing True, the Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction (co-authored with Sondra Perl). Her essays have been widely anthologized and six of them have been Notables in Best American Essays.

"Eloquent. . . . Schwartz's tone is gentle, her prose brilliantly clear and her insights keen."—Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating picture, atypical of so much written on the subject. Blessed with good antennae and a skeptical mind, Ms. Schwartz is not an innocent abroad. Never gullible or credulous, but open to the evidence of her own eyes and ears, she is an ideal guide to her father's lost world, which for so long she resisted. . . . It is a measure of her nuanced approach and refusal to settle for pat, simplistic answers that her book finds and genuinely values a rare point of light in that darkest of times without ever exaggerating its overall significance."—Martin Rubin, The Washington Times

“[A] beautiful memoir of introspection and contrasts.”—Harriet P. Gross, Dallas Morning News

"Schwartz's excellent presentation defies categorization. It has some elements of journalism, autobiography, history, reporting, feature writing, and literature. All these components are creatively combined to result in an eminently readable product that grips the reader's attention. Schwartz has augmented our limited capacity to comprehend the Holocaust, which is ultimately an incomprehensible phenomenon."—Morton I. Teicher, National Jewish Post & Opinion

“Whether or not one can, or should, move on from the Holocaust is central to Schwartz’s many important themes. . . . Good Neighbors, Bad Times gives evidence of the need to connect, to honor, to fight against the obliteration of lives with which one has some unchosen connection. . . . Schwartz’s account is a suggestive hybrid: on one hand a most personal search for her roots, and on the other an invitation to see a broader ongoing history of mass movements and the toll such emotional immersion and surrender of individual choice produces at the time and in subsequent generations.”—John C. Hawley, America

"Thoughtfully told. . . . With an open spirit, Schwartz looks at individual struggles and choices in order to better understand the nature of heroism and loyalty, the meaning of good and evil, writ large and small."—Sandee Brawarsky, The Jewish Week

2008 Book of the Year Award, Autobiography/Memoir Category Bronze Award Winner, sponsored by ForeWord Magazine
2009 New Hampshire Literary Awards - Outstanding Book of Nonfiction

Also of Interest

Holocaust Girls
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Life of Jews in Poland before the Holocaust
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Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed
Mimi Schwartz

Opa Nobody
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