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Critical Praise for
Good Neighbors, Bad Times


The Washington Times
“A fascinating picture, atypical of so much written on the subject. Blessed with good antennae and a skeptical mind, Ms. Schwartz is not an innocent abroad. Never gullible or credulous, but open to the evidence of her own eyes and ears, she is an ideal guide to her father’s lost world, which for so long she resisted. . . . It is a measure of her nuanced approach and refusal to settle for pat, simplistic answers that her book finds and genuinely values a rare point of light in that darkest of times without ever exaggerating its overall significance.”

Shofar, an Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
“Mimi Schwartz… has written a brilliant book that is ‘not a Holocaust book,’ not a book about the annihilation of European Jewry. And yet, if a Holocaust book should transmit how dear and how fragile every human life is—if it should transmit our infinite responsibility to one another in the light of the Nazi assault on the Infinite One—it is a Holocaust book, a Jewish book, a most human book. In any case, it is a book that should be read by all.”

Publishers Weekly
“When Schwartz’s (Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed) father was born in 1898, half of his native German Black Forest farming village of 1,200 was Jewish and religious. Many years later…to reclaim her father’s village for herself, the author recorded stories of Jews and Gentiles in New York City, Germany and Israel and discovers that her father’s villagers, while not overwhelmingly brave or altruistic, managed to perform small acts of kindness or defiance during the Nazi years…Her writing is genial and lucid and her aim is to understand how decent people remember a dishonorable past…”

Kirkus Reviews
“[A]n eloquent and affectionate account. . . . Schwartz’s tone is gentle, her prose brilliantly clear and her insights keen.”

JBooks. com
“Unlike profiles of Oskar Schindler and Raul Wallenberg, those well-known righteous gentiles who saved Jews through a combination of money, power, and bravery, Schwartz focuses on the everyday kindnesses practiced on a small scale, neighbor to neighbor [such as] ‘The barber cut Jewish hair under the sign NO JEWS ALLOWED HERE’ to ‘Christians paid back debts to Jews even though the law said they didn’t have to…’ These may be ‘small acts of defiance,’ Schwartz concludes, but ‘decency is so often such a solitary act; it’s evil that draws a noisy crowd.’”

National Jewish Post & Opinion
“Schwartz’s excellent presentation defies categorization. It has some elements of journalism, autobiography, history, reporting, feature writing, and literature. All these components are creatively combined to result in an eminently readable product that grips the reader’s attention. Schwartz has augmented our limited capacity to comprehend the Holocaust, which is ultimately an incomprehensible phenomenon.” –Morton I. Teicher

Rosellen Brown, author of Before and After
Good Neighbors, Bad Times is utterly riveting. It reintroduces, one story at a time, the kind of human complexity to our understanding of “the perpetrators” so often lacking when we confront the devastation of the Holocaust. Mimi Schwartz bravely takes us along on her journey to recreate the ethos of a particular village, its surprises, uncertainties, contradictions, provocations, and shares with us her humbling conviction that—-no matter how inhuman the orders that come from above—-there is no such thing as a monolith when it comes to the reactions of individuals. Her book casts a ray of light into the darkness, which was not so absolute as it has often seemed."

America, the National Catholic Weekly
Good Neighbors, Bad Times gives evidence of the need to connect, to honor, to fight against the obliteration of lives with which one has some unchosen connection. . . . Schwartz’s account is a suggestive hybrid: on one hand a most personal search for her roots, and on the other an invitation to see a broader ongoing history of mass movements and the toll such emotional immersion and surrender of individual choice produces at the time and in subsequent generations.” –John C. Hawley

The Wilson Quarterly
“This book of moments and little stories surprises and horrifies, soothes and disturbs. But it is, above all, a beautiful read by a charming writer.” –Aviva Kushner

Michael Walzer, author of Just and Unjust Wars
“A shrewd and insightful meditation on how our collective histories are discovered, constructed, revised, and debated—and how, finally, we learn to live with them.”

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles
“Schwartz…writes beautifully; her words flow, characters are portrayed seemingly effortlessly and she makes vivid the tensions between the German generations and between those Germans who insist on remembering what others would equally insistently forget. The result is most satisfying; the tale of a woman in search of her roots who finds what she is looking for – and so much more; but the story is much larger than that. It is a vivid portrayal of good neighbors who experienced the worst of times that tested themselves and each other and that scattered fragments of the truth of that time to the four corners of the earth, seemingly waiting for one fine writer to unite them.” –Michael Berenbaum, author of The World Must Know

Phillip Lopate, author of The Art of the Personal Essay
“Mimi Schwartz has found a fresh way to write about the unspeakable loss of the Holocaust: her humor, warm humanity and honesty, her appetite for contradiction and irony, sparkle on every page. The result is both deeply affecting and full of surprises.”

Sonya Huber, author of Opa Nobody
“Schwartz puts at center stage not a sweeping generalization about ‘The Germans’ but its opposite, an open question that invites the reader to examine his or her moral conduct toward ‘neighbors,’ and to imagine oneself in the shoes of the various speakers and voices in the book. Schwartz raises large questions, too, about the nature of history, asking whether the flavor and essential, complex truth is lost when the stories of first-hand sources are squeezed into an historical narrative devoid of subjectivity.”

Carol Rittner, R.S.M., author of The Courage to Care: Non-Jews Who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust
“A Holocaust memoir that is as much about then, as it is about now. Good Neighbors, Bad Times will make you smile, but it will also make you think. I highly recommend it.”

Raul Hilberg, author of Perpetrators Victims Bystanders: Jewish Catastrophe: 1933-1945
“When Mimi Schwartz set out with a tape recorder to discover something about the life of her father…she did not know what she would find out. This is the story of her quest in vivid portraits of Jewish emigrants and German residents right up to a revealing climax…It held my attention throughout.”

Max Kahn, son of one of the villagers in Good Neighbors, Bad Times
“As those who lived through the Holocaust are rapidly disappearing, this sensitive and open-minded work captures the anguish and inner conflicts of Jews and Gentiles living in a small German village during the Nazi period. Knowing a number of the people Mimi Schwartz depicts, I can enthusiastically attest to her accurate portrayals. For those of us born after this time, but still bearing some of its burden, there are important questions: What was the flavor of 400 years of mutual tolerance? How did this harmony disappear? What can we understand about ourselves in reflecting on the daily moral challenges of life lived under an evil regime? There are no easy answers here, but a moving and true story.”