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February 11 , 2011

A Tear in the Curtain


A Tear in the Curtain is a historical novel. The story tells of three families, British, Hungarian and Russian, whose lives are linked for fifty years during the Cold War and afterwards.Their experiences reflect the danger, bravery, heartbreak, joy and sorrow of those days when Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain. Four eleven year-olds spend an idyllic seaside holiday in England in August 1956, just before the Suez crisis and the Hungarian Uprising intensify the Cold War. John Symons skilfully portrays how world events, including the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Solidarity movement in Poland in the early 1980s, the end of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 and in the Soviet Union in 1991, affected the lives of the four children and their families in their respective countries. The author draws on Russian documents not yet available in English to paint a picture of the Cold War in human terms and to show its origins in the rise of Lenin, Hitler and Stalin and the Second World War. A Tear in the Curtain can be read with pleasure and interest by three generations. It is narrated in simple, clear and fast-moving language that engages young people, including those taking GCSE history. A fifteen year-old boy with dyslexia was absorbed by the story and read it, twice, in thirty six hours. He said how much it helped him to see the meaning of Hitler and the Second World War which he was studying for his exams. His mother loved the book's atmosphere and poetic sense of hope amid the fear and anxiety of the events described. And, for an older generation, A Tear in the Curtain expresses the meaning of all that shaped their lives after 1945. John Symons is a classical and modern historian with a passionate interest in Russia and the Soviet Union. He has travelled widely in Eastern Europe and Russia and has visited a former GULAG prison camp in Siberia. Described by a British Ambassador to Russia as 'an enthusiastic Russophile', his talks with people persecuted or imprisoned by the Gestapo or KGB give the book the ring of truth. He is the author of two biographies, Stranger on the Shore and This Life of Grace. John Symons describes the tragedies that struck at the heart of a poor but devoted Cornish family. Humanity and the valour of the human spirit shine from every page.' This England reviewing Stranger on the Shore 'The writer is a consummate artist in style, with a poet's eye for detail. The story is exceptionally vivid ...expressing deep faith and perception of the meaning of life ...' Professor C.F.D. Moule, Cambridge, on Stranger on the Shore. PROMOTION: This book will be reviewed in the local and national press. Ideal for giving GCSE and A level History students a taste of the human impact of the Cold War.
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