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Well-written and deeply moving

  • Mar 20, 2004
Before I read Anne Frank's famous diary of her experiences in 1942-1944 as a Jewish teenager hiding in Amsterdam, I wondered if it was so well-known because it was well-written, or because it served as a compelling historical document of a difficult time and place. After reading it I can say that, for me at least, it is both.

Anne's story has so many elements. It is largely the story of herself, a developing, maturing teenager, and the people she interacts with on a daily basis. But as the Nazis take over and she is forced to go into hiding with her family, there is a sharp feeling of change. It is still her story, a very personal story. And yet, permeating her story at every point is this sense of something very dangerous all around, constantly threatening to encroach. We already know most or all of what the Nazis did as they occupied much of Europe, but Anne's diary is a historical document in the sense that it provides a unique, deeply personal perspective on how that time effected a very few people. Some people wil say that history is mainly told in the big events, but I disagree. History means little if we can't see how it effects even the most unlikely, otherwise unknown people. In reading Anne's diary, I could see history's effect on the individual more clearly than ever before.

And yet her writing itself is quite good as well. It's fairly good when the diary begins, with her at age 13. It is even better when it ends, shortly after she turns 15. She had a talent for description and an eye for detail that is rare in any writer, and she was very honest in her feelings, opinions, and experiences. We get her impressions of the Germans and the occupation, of course, but we also get the stories of her squabbles with her family and with the other members of the "Secret Annex." We get the stories of arrests and raids, but also the story of Anne's impending menstruation and developing sense of sexuality. We hear about food shortages, but also about what she learned during her stay in the Annex, academically and otherwise.

In the end, reading Anne's diary feels wrong in a way, because it is the very personal thoughts of a young girl who is struggling to express herself, and confiding in a receiver who was never meant to be a real person. And yet, now millions have read her thoughts. It is -- I can't stress this enough -- a story of a maturing teenager. In a sense, it could be the story of my babysitter, or even eventually of my own daughters a few years down the road. However, it is also a story told under circumstances that would make most teenagers (and adults) cower in fear. The fact that Anne had the presence of mind and the strength and the courage to write down this document makes this one of the most important diaries ever written.

I won't soon forget it.

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More Anne Frank: The Diary of a You... reviews
review by . September 17, 2003
This work ranks as the number one child diary of the 20th  century. The book is well-organized and written. It is a  fairly complete diarization of the day-to-day experiences  of a young teen during the height of the second world war.  The work documents the utter fright citizens can have of totalitarian instrumentalities. Anne documents the continuous  fear of discovery and considerable efforts required to survive  a sustained assault …
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Rich Stoehr ()
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I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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About this book


A beloved classic since its initial publication in 1947, this vivid, insightful journal is a fitting memorial to the gifted Jewish teenager who died at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in 1945. Born in 1929, Anne Frank received a blank diary on her 13th birthday, just weeks before she and her family went into hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Her marvelously detailed, engagingly personal entries chronicle 25 trying months of claustrophobic, quarrelsome intimacy with her parents, sister, a second family, and a middle-aged dentist who has little tolerance for Anne's vivacity. The diary's universal appeal stems from its riveting blend of the grubby particulars of life during wartime (scant, bad food; shabby, outgrown clothes that can't be replaced; constant fear of discovery) and candid discussion of emotions familiar to every adolescent (everyone criticizes me, no one sees my real nature, when will I be loved?). Yet Frank was no ordinary teen: the later entries reveal a sense of compassion and a spiritual depth remarkable in a girl barely 15. Her death epitomizes the madness of the Holocaust, but for the millions who meet Anne through her diary, it is also a very individual loss.--Wendy Smith
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ISBN-10: 0553296981
ISBN-13: 978-0553296983
Author: Anne Frank
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Teens
Publisher: Bantam
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