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Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical…
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Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy's Story of Survival,…

by Greg Dawson

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Excerpts from my original GR review (May 2011):
- An older acquaintance (in fact a veteran of the European theater of WWII) enthused to me about this book, and his insistence won me over. Many books have been written about the adversity and horrors of wartime, particularly concerning the Holocaust and Stalinist Terror. Count this one among those, but what enthralled me here is that the story of survival straddles both evils. On one side the cruel dehumanization of the Soviet regime; on the other, a blitzing invasion by the equally murderous Nazis.
- How the author's mother survived is what we learn in this biography, and I think on the whole it is well done. As other reviewers found, a few inexcusable grammatical/editing lapses occur in the reading. I'll never understand how that happens. Another criticism I have to voice is that we hear virtually nothing from Zhanna's sister, who is along on the adventure but comes across in some instances as mute baggage. Overall though, I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to taste the experience of one who was caught up in man's capacity for both sinister cruelty and determined kindness. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Oct 17, 2018 |
Hiding in the Spotlight, by Greg Dawson, is a biograhpy of the author’s mother, Zhanna. Zhanna and her family were Jews living in the Ukraine during the start of World War II. Already suffering under Stalin’s brutal communistic policies, the people’s torment increased as the Germans swept into Russia. Soothed by false promises of kindness from both the Soviets and the Germans, Zhanna’s parents decide not to flee from the swiftly moving German army. Once the Germans reach their town, the Arshanskys soon realize their terrible mistake. Unable to save themselves, Zhanna’s parents manage to save their two daughters. Through the kindness of strangers, and using their amazing musical talents, the girls are able to survive the war in plain sight, by entertaining the Nazis. ( )
1 vote rapikk | Apr 28, 2011 |
By the age of six, Zhanna had developed a repertoire fellow studanets twice her age would envy. Scholarships to the most prestigious conservatories in the Soviet Union soon followed-conservatories that had produced legends like Rachmaninoff, Kogan and Horowitz.In 1941 disaster strikes. The Nazi Army is smashing through the Ukraine enroute to Moscow. Zhanna and her family are to be executed alongside thousands of others in the ravines of Drobitsky Yar. ( )
  marient | Dec 25, 2010 |
The story of two sisters, Russian/Ukrainian Jewish piano prodigies, who survived the war under false identities playing the piano for Nazi officers. Written by the son of one of the girls. The section on the war is not as detailed as I would like, and it covers only about half the book -- the rest of the pages are devote to the girls' childhood and the beginnings of their musical careers, and then to the post-war period. I was fascinated by the character of the American officer who recognized their talent and actually adopted them just so he could bypass the immigration quotas and get them into the United States.

Piano enthusiasts as well as people interested in the Holocaust would find this well worth reading. ( )
  meggyweg | Nov 13, 2010 |
This book was fascinating. Offering details of the life of a Ukranian Jew who escapes the death march at Drobitsky Yar only to find herself the musical darling of the German SS performing at Nazi programs throughout Germany.

Although a memoir, it is written in a casual narrative tone which makes for easy reading and page turning drama.

This title offers both a unique perspective of the lives of Jews both before and after the war, with interesting insights into the nuances associated with being a Russian Jew amongst Polish and German Jews - I was unaware that US Repatriatization of Jewish citizens did not include ANY quota for bringing Russian Jews to the United States.

A great history lesson, a great humanitarian lesson and a great read. ( )
1 vote pbadeer | Sep 19, 2009 |
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The author relates the remarkable story of his pianist mother, a child prodigy who escaped certain death when the Nazis invaded Ukraine, adopted a new identity, and came under the protection of a Nazi commander who heard her play.

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