I read "The Diary of Anne Frank" when I was younger than she was when she began it. I've never forgotten it. This book, as one comment notes, gives the background of how it came to be put together as we now have it. It also discusses the "parallel versions" that show Anne's original diary, her revisions, and her father's changes, which have been published this way so scholars can check out the way the book her father put together was created. So far, I found this fascinating. When it came to the story of the stage play, the movie, etc, the story began to get sordid, and the person of Anne Frank got lost. I remember loving the movie too, but reading this, I realize that it wasn't about the girl in the book, let alone the girl who wrote the diary. That made me sad.
This is a great book. The Diary of Anne Frank made a huge impact on me as a child and this book fills it out with background information and insights - from the edits to controversies about the dramatization. It confirms that The Diary is truly an extraordinarily powerful work for many different reasons.
Here's the thing: I resisted this book initially because I thought: What more could I possibly learn? I had the same reaction before watching the documentary Shoah. The answer was the same: when you're dealing with an enormity -- and genocide has to be the best example of enormity there is -- it's impossible to learn it all. For one thing, your brain tends to shut off in the face of the horror. Anne Frank and her diary are sort of an entry, providing something that is imaginable as a link (if we dare to look further) into the unimaginable.
Things I didn't know before reading this book:
Holland was second only to Poland in the percentage of its Jewish population slaughtered (more than three quarters), due in part to the accuracy and efficiency of Dutch records.
Not all of the entries in Anne's diary are addressed to the imaginary "Kitti"; this was a device Anne herself came up with as she re-wrote and edited much of her diary in preparation for eventual publication.
There are three versions of the diary: the "a" version is the original; the "b" version are Anne's revisions, and the "c" version is the one most of us have read, that which Otto Frank, Anne's father and the sole survivor, put together from versions "a" and "b".
The strange, strange story of the creation of the Broadway play and the bitter fights surrounding it.
Is it possible to enjoy a book that touches on the Holocaust? Perhaps not. However, this book is a palatable experience without being cloying or sentimental, and it is certainly fascinating reading.
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