In a book that will touch hearts and minds, acclaimed cultural historian Marilyn Yalom presents firsthand accounts of six witnesses to war, each offering lasting memories of how childhood trauma transforms lives.
The violence of war leaves indelible marks, and memories last a lifetime for those who experienced this trauma as children. Marilyn Yalom experienced World War II from afar, safely protected in her home in Washington, DC. But over the course of her life, she came to be close friends with many less lucky, who grew up under bombardment across Europe-in France, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, England, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Holland. With Innocent Witnesses, Yalom collects the stories from these accomplished luminaries and brings us voices of a vanishing generation, the last to remember World War II.
Memory is notoriously fickle: it forgets most of the past, holds on to bits and pieces, and colors the truth according to unconscious wishes. But in the circle of safety Marilyn Yalom created for her friends, childhood memories return in all their startling vividness. This powerful collage of testimonies offers us a greater understanding of what it is to be human, not just then but also today. With this book, her final and most personal work of cultural history, Yalom considers the lasting impact of such young experiences-and asks whether we will now force a new generation of children to spend their lives reconciling with such memories.
Marilyn Yalom's books include classics of cultural history such as A History of the Wife, Birth of the Chess Queen, and How the French Invented Love. A former professor of French, she was a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. She lived in Palo Alto, California, with her husband, psychiatrist and author Irvin D. Yalom.