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When Katrina Shawver met the eighty-five year old Henry Zguda, he possessed an exceptional memory, a surprising cache of original documents and photos, and a knack for meeting the right people at the right time. Couched in the interview style of Tuesdays with Morrie, Henry relates in his own voice a life as a champion swimmer, interrupted by three years imprisoned in Auschwitz and Buchenwald as a Polish political prisoner. With a pragmatic gallows humor, and sense of hope, he showed the author how to truly live for today, preferably with a shot of good Polish vodka. Henry’s path of resiliency and power of connection are as relevant today, as they were in World War II.
Powerful and riveting Shawver’s Holocaust biography casts a haunting and uninterrupted spell over her readers as she takes them on a harrowing journey into the darkest moments of the last century. A time and place that will forever be engrained in the annals of history it’s flawlessly written with a timely clarity which proves wholly enthralling throughout but as with any biography of note, it’s the subject we are first and foremost drawn to. With lucid and acerbic prose Shawver gives voice to Henry Zguda’s innermost thoughts and memories and the result proves quite remarkable. Conveying a prevailing sense of immediacy we come to see events as they unfolded through Henry’s eyes. A unique perspective that weaves moral choices, immoral certainties, the worst of human nature and a timeless lesson in resilience. Auschwitz and Buchenwald have been written about extensively and Henry’s story is of course just one of million's but through Shawver’s burgeoning friendship with him, extensive research and travel to Poland Shawver delivers a biography that proves not only factual but incredibly inspiring with Zguda reminding us how important it is to embrace life and make every moment count.
An extraordinarily powerful biography, HENRY: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America is recommended without reservation.
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About Katrina Shawver
Katrina Shawver wrote hundreds of newspaper columns over eleven years for The Arizona Republic, holds a B.A. from the University of Arizona in English/Political Science and has excelled at the School of Trial and Error. In addition to writing and blogging, she has worked in software support, the paralegal profession, tax preparation, and answered phones for a forensic psychiatrist. She spent fifteen years researching Poland, World War II, and the Holocaust as background for her debut book, Henry – A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, in the U.S. with her husband, and still wishes sweet potato fries counted as a vegetable.