In My Hands Today…

Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue in a Doomed World – Taras Grescoe

On the eve of WWII, the foreign-controlled port of Shanghai was the rendezvous for the twentieth century’s most outlandish adventurers, all under the watchful eye of the fabulously wealthy Sir Victor Sassoon.

Emily “Mickey” Hahn was a legendary New Yorker journalist whose vivid writing played a crucial role in opening Western eyes to the realities of life in China.

At the height of the Depression, Hahn arrived in Shanghai after a disappointing affair with an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter, convinced she will never love again. After checking in to Sassoon’s glamorous Cathay Hotel, Hahn is absorbed into the social swirl of the expats drawn to pre-war China, among them Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, Harold Acton, and a colourful gangster named Morris “Two-Gun” Cohen. But when she meets Zau Sinmay, a Chinese poet from an illustrious family, she discovers the real Shanghai through his eyes: the city of rich colonials, triple agents, opium-smokers, displaced Chinese peasants, and increasingly desperate White Russian and Jewish refugees—a place her innate curiosity will lead her to explore first hand. Danger lurks on the horizon, though, as the brutal Japanese occupation destroys the seductive world of pre-war Shanghai, paving the way for Mao Tse-tung’s Communists rise to power.

In My Hands Today…

The Viceroy’s Daughters: The Lives of the Curzon Sisters – Anne de Courcy

For many years Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India (1898-1905), controlled all aspects of his daughters’ lives. Irene, born in 1896, Cynthia, born in 1898, and Alexandra, born in 1905, eventually revolted against their father’s control.

Irene had many affairs but never married. Cynthia married the up-and-coming Oswald Mosely, and Alexandra married the Prince of Wales’ best friend, Fruity Metcalfe. Throughout the 1920s, the sisters were at the centre of a fast and glittering world.

This biography provides insight into their lives, public and private, and gives a different view of German, Italian and British fascism. Based on unpublished letters and diaries, this book provides new revelations about Oswald Mosely, the Cliveden set, Lord Halifax, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

In My Hands Today…

The Choice: Embrace the Possible – Edith Eger and Esmé Schwall Weigand

It’s 1944 and sixteen-year-old ballerina and gymnast Edith Eger is sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

The horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience. The Choice is her unforgettable story.

In My Hands Today…

Survival in Auschwitz – Primo Levi, translated by Stuart J. Woolf

The true and harrowing account of Primo Levi’s experience at the German concentration camp of Auschwitz and his miraculous survival; hailed by The Times Literary Supplement as a “true work of art, this edition includes an exclusive conversation between the author and Philip Roth.

In 1943, Primo Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist and “Italian citizen of Jewish race,” was arrested by Italian fascists and deported from his native Turin to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz is Levi’s classic account of his ten months in the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miraculous endurance. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint, compassion, and even wit, Survival in Auschwitz remains a lasting testament to the indestructibility of the human spirit.

In My Hands Today…

Clara’s War – Clara Kramer

On September 1, 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. Three years later, in the small town of Żółkiew, life for Jewish 15-year-old Clara Kramer was never to be the same again. While those around her were either slaughtered or transported, Clara and her family hid perilously in a hand-dug cellar. Living above and protecting them were the Becks.

Mr. Beck was a womaniser, a drunkard and a self-professed anti-Semite, yet he risked his life throughout the war to keep his charges safe. Nevertheless, life with Mr. Beck was far from predictable. From the house catching fire, to Beck’s affair with Clara’s cousin, to the nightly SS drinking sessions in the room just above, Clara’s War transports you into the dark, cramped bunker, and sits you next to the families as they hold their breath time and again.

Sixty years later, Clara Kramer has created a memoir that is lyrical, dramatic and heartbreakingly compelling. Despite the worst of circumstances, this is a story full of hope and survival, courage and love.