A World Torn ASUNDER brings to us the story of Constantin X. Giurescu, his family, life in Romania, Vienna, childhood growing up moving around so much and the life of a Romanian historian to powerful, profound that only one person could relate the events Marina Giurescu, his granddaughter. With a forward written by Paul E. Michelson, Ph. D. the man who made it all possible by bringing out Constantin’s prison diary, where it remained buried in a jar for so ling, letters that no one knew existed and private feelings related to the reader, the extensive research done by our author, this books is truly a testimonial to such a great man. The history provided by the author of this nation, Romania, is extensive, vividly described from the turn of the century to the fall of Romania, WWI and the change in its culture and the end result that we hear as he is imprisoned for so long, this is one memoir, that everyone needs to read.
Born in 1901, Constantin C. Giurescu was a power or force even as a young child. Growing up with two parents who nurtured, hovered and created his destiny to perfection, we learn of the many places his parents lived, the dangers his mother taught him to look out for and the protective environment she created for her family. Elena his mother provided a strict, structured and loving home for her children while her husband expanded his knowledge, his career options in the filed of history. Attending many different schools the author shares in detail his childhood, his memoires and his curious nature. Born in Focsani he was the son of historian Constantin Giuescu and went to school in Bucharest where he attended both primary and secondary schools and completed his education. Receiving his doctorate from the University of Bucharest and writing a thesis “Contributions to the studies of great dignitaries of the 14th and 15th centuries. But, first let’s learn more about his father and younger years as Constantin enters school, we learn about his childhood fun and his father’s assent to director of archives a job that proved not only challenging but also rewarding to the young history professor. August of 1914 brought the First World War, which created much concern for King Carol I. After consulting with several officials it was decided that Romania would remain neutral During that time Elena and her family went through many changes and the war brought them tragedy and the loss of a close family member. But, things would change two years later, Romania would join the war and under the pressure of Allies, she aligned herself with Britain, France and Russia when King Carol I died and Ferdinand, married to the granddaughter of Queen Victoria became King. Joining the allies and promised support for their national unity, Romania declared war on Austria-Hungary. The remainder of Chapter five and six tell about the war, the effect it had on the family of Constantin, the death of his parents and their new lives living with Aunt Marie. By 1918 the war had ended, Transylvania and Bessarabia united with the Romanian Old Kingdom and the union between Transylvania and Romania was proclaimed. Constantin was ambitious and young, went to school, got a scholarship to a school in Paris and got his doctorate all the while courting the daughter of a professor. But, even with the many hardships, the dissent of some of Maria’s family members they married had three children. Maria’s mother did not endorse the marriage and made coming home for her and her family uncomfortable to say the least. A move to restore Carol II to his birthright and many leaders of the main parties and some with no political affiliation like Constantin were among those asked to sign the petition for a new start. But, not everyone endorsed what he was doing and dissention rose within his own family. But, Constantin was determined and two years later he was seated on the party’s side of the aisle in Parliament. The remainder of the chapter titled Politics Beckons tells more about his family, his children and the book he was to write. Chapter 11 discusses the history of the Romanians, his family dynamics, political unrest in chapter twelve and the Second World War. In 1938 royal dictatorship came to Romania and in 1940 Romania was forced to cede territory to both Hungary and Russia. In 1941 Romania joined Germany and invaded Russia followed in 1944 when she changes sides and declares war on Germany. The author shares how this affected Constantin and his family, their feelings, the assassination of the Prime Minister and the “ storm that had unleashed. Chapter 14 tells more about Romania and her downfall and the dangers of the war and which side she would take. Maria had many premonitions and fears related to this war. Worried, questions that remained unanswered, hoping to go somewhere safe, would she convince her husband to go and live in Switzerland? Hoping he could find a post somewhere else but for some reason he held a strong allegiance to his country. But, what about his family? Bombings, buildings crumbling, deaths, despair and isolation and much more marked the scene they saw when an earthquake does more than must shake up the horizon, destroy and demolish buildings, stores and structures and then on November 26-28 a “ murderous rampage tore through the city killing seventy-two people. Members of the Iron Guard claimed responsibility. But, then the worst would come and political detainees were held in the Jilava Penitentiary and on orders from the Iron Guard, Horia Sima, were killed. This was just the beginning of what was to come. Murders, people removed from positions, and then family’s worse nightmare. A potential target he and his friend Nick Caracaleanu, and who headed Constantin’s cabinet worried for his safety. Armed and ready he and Nick and his brother were ready if attacked. The rest you need to read for yourself and the author continues with the rest of what happened during the Second World War and the first bombs falling in the summer of 1943, the realization that they would have to leave and go to Istanbul and the Soviet Occupation. The family returned home hoping that leaving Istanbul and returning to Romania as she stood victorious. But what they encountered and saw upon their return was not the Romania that they fled but a country that was no longer theirs. The history of the downfall and what happens is graphically described in chapter 21 as we next learn about the elections and how they were fixed or as the author states rigged. A son in the military, Horia understood the dangers and he describes true meaning of being in the military. The country’s former leader and those closest to him were arrested and charged with war crimes. Constantin was concerned and heard it in his brother-in-law’s voice and the real fear has yet to come. The story continues with the remainder of what happens during the elections, the lives of his children, the election results and then no more king: Victory for the Bloc of Democratic Parties carrying 84 percent of the vote. The fear that ensued, the apprehension they both felt would lead to even more strife later on. The owned a lot of property and the vineyard manager came to Maria with information that would create some fear. Land reform, more arrests in the upcoming weeks, which included factory workers who did not campaign for the reigning party and the worst. When her parents returned from vacation they learned their house had been “appropriated by an individual during their stay in Istanbul.” Her father’s library and his manuscripts were gone and their furniture replaced. Strangers living in their home what was next? Told that they thought when they left they did not know if they would return, the excuse for allowing citizens to take their property and they claimed they could not ask them to leave. The Communist Party decided to take on land reform and as a result Maria’s vineyard, her parent’s home and the new party created more fear than you can imagine in the people plus in 1949 a new “ wave of nationalization with hospitals and pharmacies joining the ranks of state-owned institutions.” Then, their worst fear as someone comes to his door, insists that he leave with them and their home is invaded and the arrest made that would take him away for five years. From this point on you hear the voices of the prisoners, the fears, what they endures and the visit of the doctor, the loss of his glasses and the indignities he endured at the hands of the guards and those in charge. The treatment varied, the guards some cruel others somewhat humane the different guards at this prison, their names and their manner of treatment. But, there is much more as their home was ransacked and searched by the security officers and Maria’s fears kept within her heart and mind. But, it got worse as her parents remained with her, the fear of what he was going through worse than knowing, and the arguing and slamming of doors making life unbearable at for Maria. But, with the help of a friend some of their belongings might be saved as they were evicted from their home, sent to wherever they assigned them and their lives would never be the same. As you read this next pages you will learn more about his life in prison, the suffering he endured, the depression and guilt that overtakes him and when asked if he had any complaints he stated no for survival and then was moved to another cell with his friend Nick Cornatenau whom we meet at the start of the novel when he is about to take his final breath as he learns about his new cellmates, who they are, were and they learn to survive.
Lives crumbling in an instant and survival of the fittest with the hope of someday leaving and reuniting with their families and hopefully freed. What you will read will make you cringe, angry and wonder just why some were and still are so inhumane. Deaths were common but the guards did not care the prisoners not told. Finally contact with someone and he’s taken to Masareni to live. His appearance horrendous, the diseases he encountered many and the weight loss huge and finally the reunion with his family but first we learn of what happens to Maria, his son Dinu and his family, the horrific conditions they live in and surviving Communism. Then, he courageously and bravely writes Five Years and Two Months in the Sighet Penitentiary. The manuscript finished and handed to his friend Nick and this chapter in his life closed but for everyone to read telling of his life, his heartaches and what was stolen from him. Things they all took fore granted they appreciated even more. Their lives would never be the same but would they give up? So many lives that were destroyed at the hand of a few and the end result and their final fate you have to learn for yourself. Fifty- one years together and his death followed by a huge earthquake and the rest you will learn when you read Collapse of Tyranny. As author Marina Guirescu takes us all back in time to Romania before its final fall and you hear the voices, the pain and the story one man named Constantin. One powerful story. One must read!
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
I am an educator, book reviewer, talk show host on Blog Talk Radio and I do online interviews with authors upon request. My book reviews are free and my reviews are honest, detailed and help spotlight … more