In a treasure trove of World War II letters, a daughter uncovers her father and his friends’ long-hidden histories. Adventurers Against Their Will is a gripping wartime adventure, a fascinating account of WWII archival reconstruction, and a searching exploration of memory, family, and the will to survive.
Florida Department of Education Recommended Reading for Grades 9-12. Germany’s International Tracing Service uses the stories of Adventurers Against Their Will in educational program series about displaced persons.
What people are saying about Adventurers Against Their Will and author Joanie Schirm…
“Adventurers Against Their Will is a brilliant and compelling account of men and women caught in the turbulence of war. Part insightful history and part family drama, the book leads readers on a journey into the past, answering many questions and posing new ones along the way. Joanie Schirm has made a fresh and vital contribution to our understanding of world War II’s impact on the lives of people in Central Europe.”
Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State
“Adventurers Against Their Will is a powerful wartime story revolving around true historical events. Based on scrupulous research, Joanie Schirm has dug deep into her own family history and beyond to recreate the lost world of Jewish culture in interwar Czechoslovakia and the horrors that followed during the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia. An emotionally powerful book for anyone interested in the vanished universe of early twentieth-century Central Europe and the war that destroyed it.”
Robert Gerwarth, author of Hitler’s Hangman: The Life and Death of Reinhard Heydrich
“I could say that this reads like a novel but I’ve read a lot of novels set during the Holocaust and most of them, no matter how carefully researched, fall flat; you can always tell precisely where the research stops and the plot begins. What makes Adventurers Against Their Will so compelling is that none of its characters are aware of the roles they’re playing. It’s heartbreaking to realize how forward-looking and hopeful they’d been—how excited to be a part of Masaryk’s doomed democracy. Their warts-and-all humanity brings home the horror of what was lost so much more powerfully than the pathos of cheap storytelling ever could.”
Arthur Goldwag, author of The New Hate
“In the dynamic world of publishing today, the value of a good story told by a passionate, well-suited author is more important than ever. I believe Adventurers Against Their Will has all the elements for success – adventure, mystery, tragedy, love, discovery and truth.”
Ann Sonntag, Former Publisher, Orlando Business Journal, a publication of American City Business Journals, the largest publisher of business journal in the U.S.
“I first came in contact with Joanie Schirm in 1991 when we worked together to bring the World Cup games to Orlando. It was no small feat. Quickly I knew she reflected perfectly what Walt Disney called the Four C’s: curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy. I had no idea she would later use all these “C’s” so productively again to deliver the story of a lifetime – her father’s – in the book My Dear Boy, the companion book to Adventurers Against Their Will. I predict it will someday make a fine movie. As a 1992 recipient of the prestigious Walt Disney World Dreamers and Doers Award, I know this strawberry blond force of nature will turn the book in to a best seller.”
Richard Nunis, Past Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
“Some writers have a great story but don’t know how to tell it. Other writers tell it well but don’t really have a great story. In Adventurers Against Their Will, Joanie Schirm not only has a great story but knows how to tell it.”
James Coffin, Executive Director, Interfaith Council of Central Florida
“In Adventurers Against Their Will, Joanie Schirm has reached deeply into the well of her own family’s past and the unfolding events in Europe at the very moment the world was erupting into the conflagration that history calls World War II. Meticulously researched by Schirm, the voices of seven letter writers from her father’s historic collection of 400 correspondences echo from 1939-1946, revealing the hopes, fears, desires, and all-too-late realizations of would-be victims caught up in stasis, emigration, immigration, and most dastardly, “resettlement” – that Nazi euphemism for transit to concentration, or death, camps. Since forty-four of Schirm’s family members met this latter fate, Joanie Schirm’s own retrospective, scholarly odyssey via the letters is poignant, indeed, containing timely messages for generations now and those yet to come.”
Bill Younglove, Educator, California State University Long Beach; contributing editor, The Call of Memory: Learning About the Holocaust through Narrative
From Amazon reviews;
“…it is my favorite genre – humanizing history through the people who actually lived it.”
“…You begin to think you know the characters and the writing transports you to the far-away places in which the scenes are set: a smoky cafe in Europe or a mission in China…you’ll feel a sense of loss…but you are buoyed the triumpf of the human spirit.”
“…begs the modern day question: what would you do?…pathfinder tool for any passionate and engaged world-citizen. Instructive lessons for any generation which will linger long after the pages of the book have been closed.”
“…It offers a glimpse into the lives of people who, through their own voices, I came to love and care deeply about. Beautifully done!”