The USNS General CC Ballou, Part 3: Fellow Passengers

Sixty-five years ago my family crossed the stormy North Atlantic on the USNS General C. C. Ballou as displaced persons. In the early morning on April 10, 1952, while anchored in New York harbor, I saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time.

In the past several months I have been contacted by two fellow passengers and the granddaughter of a third. One of them, while reading my book, realized we were on the same voyage and bunked near each other. Although she was only four at the time, she remembered the burial at sea described in the book.

Another refugee who crossed the Atlantic on the USNS General C. C. Ballou several months earlier learned about my book while doing internet research on the ship. He was struck with how uncannily similar our stories are. He contacted me and we’ve become friends. Writing the book is a gift that just keeps on giving!

By the way, the book is now available for Kindle readers!

Kirkus print ad

Kirkus Reviews has been running some advertisements for my book in their print magazine, as well as on their website.

While getting the word out about the book in paid advertising is fine, this excerpt from the Kirkus review itself is particularly nice to read:

Maroscher’s research, while reliant upon informal interviews with family members, is impressively meticulous and thorough. The author controls the narrative like an orchestra conductor, allowing each player’s contribution to have its part within the piece as a whole. Also, he’s refreshingly candid about his own life, particularly his sometimes-troubled teenage years, and he writes with wit and compassion.

Emma B Books Review

Independent book reviewer Emma B Books recently gave Why Can’t Somebody Just Die Around Here? a rather glowing five-star review!

A strong and moving story of the author’s parents’ lives, which went from an everyday normal life in Romania, to extreme hardship during WWII and finally living in the USA.

Using documentation from his parents’ lives, together with memories from family and friends, the author has written this memoir about how WWII impacted the lives of an everyday Romanian family. His father fought for 3 different countries, due to border changes, whilst his mother fled their home with her toddler and baby (the author), using all her strength and courage to keep her family alive. When the country she settled in became communist, she fled again. Finally in the USA, with hard work and determination they start a new life. In the midst of the tale Gerhard Maroscher and his brother’s life story is naturally included, but for me this book is about their parents.

Each chapter in the book is divided into small anecdotes and memories, with sections also describing relevant episodes in history. It is a very readable book, and the inclusion of many photos and copies of original documents add to the interest. There is a massive Appendix at the end, with source references, further documentation and photographs.

Though the writing is an easy read, what happened to this family is a tough, and riveting, read. There are many images from this book I will carry with me for a long time – some positive, some of the struggle to survive. There are times of hope, strength and always the belief that the hard times will pass.

I have given this a 5* rating as it includes such fascinating everyday details of the lives of this family, that I felt completely involved in the story. There were also many interesting historical facts that I was not aware of. A book that provides plenty to think about and discuss with others – not least of all, how lucky we that have never had to flee war, or fight in a war, are.

I do hope this book becomes very widely read, so that current generations understand what went before, and appreciate the importance of a life lived in peace. It is suitable reading for all the family.

Book review: Herr Joseph

It’s not every day you get a review written by a Lt. Col, USAF! Here’s what Herr Joseph (Joseph P. Contino, of Lithopolis’s Das Kaffeehaus von Frau Burkhart) had to say about the book:

Why Can’t Somebody Just Die Around Here? is a must read for anyone who is engaged in professional military education (PME) at the Squadron Officer School level and above or just the casual reader who is merely curious to educate themselves on what true hardship AND success looks like for real people.

From a military history angle, it puts into relevant context WWII Germany from a war torn victim’s perspective. The reader experiences everything from the enemy’s movement and tactics and their political motivations at the end of the war, to US policy and how both had a direct and lasting impact on a family. Gerhard Maroscher touches on everything from the enemy’s military structure and modus operandi during their time of desperation and how that intertwined with the American advance and eventual victory in the region. Most importantly, those two factors are again told from a civilian perspective which presents a very unique and real learning experience, for not only military professionals engaged in PME , but for frankly any breathing human being that has never had the “pleasure” of suffering such atrocities and LEARNING form them!

This memoir is a masterpiece in how it also bridges the gap of personal and family wartime strife to the American story. This leaves readers with an authentic appreciation for our great country that they may otherwise never have an opportunity to experience considering today’s soft environment. It is a treasure to read a book that a rare life lesson and learning experience can be garnered from – the kind that most people (thank God) will never have to endure.

Maroscher also allows other family members to give their “take” on stories told by him in the first person – a welcoming multi perspective that pulls you into the book.

Maroscher’s story should be required reading for any service officer PME let alone any high school history class and beyond – a true eye-opening experience that is relevant on so many social and political levels today. On the most trivial of levels, this book at the very least should stand as a reminder to all of us what really is important in life and what is truly nonsensical fluff….

Joseph P. Contino, Lt. Col, USAF