Two Roads Home: Hitler, Stalin, and the Miraculous Survival of My Family (Paperback)

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"Hair-raising... includes not just Hitler’s depredations but Stalin’s too—a double measure of evil."—The Wall Street Journal

An epic and uplifting World War II family history of resistance that spans Europe, telling of two happy families uprooted by war, their incredible suffering under Hitler and Stalin, and the near-miraculous survival stories of the author's mother and father.

"Moving and important."—Robert Harris, author of Act of Oblivion

In Two Roads Home beloved British journalist Daniel Finkelstein tells the extraordinary story of the years before his mother met his father—years of war and trials they barely survived.

Daniel Finkelstein's grandfather was a German Jewish intellectual leader who tolled an early warning of the impending Holocaust and became an archivist of Nazi crimes. He relocated his family to safety in Amsterdam, where they knew Anne Frank. But in those years safety was an illusion: Anne Frank famously went into hiding and Daniel's mother, Mirjam, also still a child, was sent to Bergen-Belsen with her mother and sisters.

Finkelstein's father, Ludwik, grew up in a prosperous Jewish family in Poland where his father, Dolu was a patriotic hero of the Great War. But when Stalin took control, Dolu, was deported to Siberia and Ludwik and his mother were sentenced to forced labor in Kazakhstan, starved and housed in a stable in freezing conditions.

Two Roads Home is a page-turning account of the narrow escapes, forged passports, ingenuity, bravery, and luck that allowed Mirjam and Ludwik to survive the war and find each other. Using their personal testimony, letters sent to Siberia, a diary written in Belsen, and years of historical research, Daniel Finkelstein tells what happened to two families, one the victim of the Nazis, the other of the Soviets. A tale of deliverance and triumph over evil, Two Roads Home will profoundly touch all who read it.

About the Author

DANIEL FINKELSTEIN is a weekly political columnist at The Times of London. Formerly an adviser to Prime Minister John Major, he was appointed to the House of Lords in 2013. He recently became a director of Chelsea Football Club. He is married with three children and lives in Pinner, a suburb of London. He is grandson of Dr. Alfred Wiener, founder of the Wiener Library, the world’s oldest Holocaust archive, where he is a patron.

Praise For…


"[An] unflinching and gripping family history...Finkelstein has written an indelible chronicle of both historical and personal significance."—The Washington Post

"Hair-raising...The tales he tells are so overflowing with cruelty and loss that Mr. Finkelstein’s prose needs only to be spare and plain for us to be scorched by his narrative, which includes not just Hitler’s depredations but Stalin’s too—a double measure of evil."—The Wall Street Journal

"Against a backdrop of mounting repression and horror...Finkelstein details [his family's] sufferings with immersive precision."—The Forward

"Finkelstein writes about the dual distinct, horrific paths taken during [the 1930s and 1940s] by his German-born mother, Mirjam Weiner, and his Polish-born father, Ludwik Finkelstein....Two riveting stories."—Washington Independent Review of Books

"Beautiful...This book took possession of me. I read it quickly, but then couldn’t stop thinking or talking about the Finkelstein and Wiener families...With grace, Finkelstein tells this story not as a tragedy but as a tale of love, hope and resilience."—Gerard DeGroot, The Times

"Drawing on oral history, letters, diaries, and government records, Two Roads Home is, by turns, sobering, suspenseful, and inspiring...Finkelstein captures the lived experiences of these two families in often haunting detail."–The Jerusalem Post

"[An] extraordinary narrative...An excellent contribution to the literature of the Shoah and a moving homage to the will to endure."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A haunting but humorous family history of survival . . . Daniel Finkelstein’s account of his ancestors’ experiences of the Holocaust is sobering, elegiac and, at times, even joyful."—Financial Times

"An extraordinarily powerful and moving book...Thanks to Finkelstein’s skill as a storyteller, it always has the family at its heart and is, despite the somber subject matter, immensely readable. This should be compulsory reading for anyone who wants to try to understand the dark twentieth century; it reminds us that murderous depravity was not the preserve of Nazism alone but rivaled — and sometimes surpassed — by Stalinism."—Anne Sebba, The Spectator

"Powerful and beautifully written"—Rohan Silva, The Guardian

"What [Finkelstein] has produced is carefully researched and beautifully written; as gripping as any thriller and in places so overwhelming that I had to stop to compose myself. I've been moved to tears by books before, but never from page three and then consistently throughout."—Sam Freedman, The Guardian

"A staggeringly good book: beautifully written and painfully gripping . . . you have to read it!"—Nigella Lawson

"[An] unforgettable epic of a book"—The Daily Mail (Book of the Week)

"[A] superb memoir"—The Daily Telegraph

"Powerful and beautifully written...Once the second world war breaks out the book works like a thriller, as both families race against the clock to escape certain death. But there are bigger themes running through Finkelstein’s writing, elevating [Two Roads Home] to the status of a modern classic – and just as deserving of acclaim as Philippe Sands’s East West Street or Edmund de Waal’s The Hare With Amber Eyes, both of which used inventive ways to examine the Holocaust afresh...Brilliant"—The Observer

"A masterpiece...At once an epic tale on the scale of War and Peace, an intimate portrait of his family and its traumas and a book of compelling urgency, with a vital political message at its heart...This book will be read for generations as a classic, a work of truth and history but with the emotional power of the most searing novel."—The Jewish Chronicle

"It is rare to find a book that succeeds on so many levels: as a real-life story...and as a historical document"—Jewish News

"Finkelstein has written a remarkable book, an extraordinary testimony to love and hate, in which the voice of every family member speaks clearly from the past. It is essential reading for our troubled present."—The Irish Times

"Profoundly moving . . . To read Finkelstein, one of our great thinkers and writers . . . is an unforgettable experience. This is a vital addition to the literature of two catastrophes of the 20th century. With great clarity and wisdom he demonstrates what evil politics can do. There is not a word of padding. The prose, distilled into what is both true and interesting, can sometimes be disarmingly simple"—The Spectator

“Breathless yet thoughtful, this book is part memoir, part historical tome and part thriller. . . . Implicit throughout this brilliant book is the understanding that, for every survival story like his, there are millions unwritten.” Evening Standard

"Daniel Finkelstein has written an elegant, moving account of the history of one family, and in doing so shines light on the history of the 20th century. If you want to understand Hitler and Stalin, read this book about people whose lives were upended by both of them."—Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag: A History
"Daniel Finkelstein movingly weaves together the personal and the historical, including many lesser known events, to create this compelling, propulsive and eye-opening account of World War II. Two Roads Home is deeply researched, and chillingly relevant."—Judy Batalion, New York Times bestselling author of The Light of Days

“Two Roads Home
is a beautiful tale of tragedy and astonishing survival, a riveting and deeply affecting saga from a fantastic writer.”—Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of Against All Odds and The Longest Winter

"Heart wrenching and miraculous…Epic, moving and important, the grim history of twentieth century Europe encapsulated in one extraordinary, ordinary family."—Robert Harris, author of Fatherland

"An extraordinary story—both horrifying and inspiring—that grips you completely from start to finish."—Gyles Brandreth, author of #1 Sunday Times bestseller Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait

"This truly remarkable book brings vividly home the horrors perpetrated against one family by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, serving as an indictment of their crimes against millions. Diligently researched, beautifully written and on occasion unbearably moving, this is a powerful moral work about political extremism and the importance of bearing witness, but at the heart of it is love."—Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593467619
ISBN-10: 0593467612
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: August 27th, 2024
Pages: 416
Language: English