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I Seek a Kind Person

On sale

18th January 2024

Price: £20

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Selected: ebook / ISBN-13: 9781399803328

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‘A powerful, eloquent and deeply affecting book. I loved it’ EDMUND DE WAAL

Tender, evocative and deeply moving’ JONATHAN FREEDLAND

‘Profound, elegiac and fascinating… I zipped through it’ PHILIPPE SANDS

‘Compelling’ DAILY MAIL, BOOK OF THE WEEK

‘I SEEK A KIND PERSON WHO WILL EDUCATE MY INTELLIGENT BOY, AGED 11.’


In 1938, Jewish families are scrambling to flee Vienna. Desperate, they take out adverts offering their children into the safe keeping of readers of a British newspaper, the Manchester Guardian. The right words in the right order could mean the difference between life and death.


Eighty-three years later, Guardian journalist Julian Borger comes across the advert that saved his father, Robert, from the Nazis. Robert had kept this a secret, like almost everything else about his traumatic Viennese childhood, until he took his own life. Drawn to the shadows of his family’s past and starting with nothing but a page of newspaper adverts, Borger traces the remarkable stories of his father, the other advertised children and their families, each thrown into the maelstrom of a world at war.

From a Viennese radio shop to the Shanghai ghetto, internment camps and family homes across Britain, the deep forests and concentration camps of Nazi Germany, smugglers saving Jewish lives in Holland, an improbable French Resistance cell, and a redemptive story of survival in New York, Borger unearths the astonishing journeys of the children at the hands of fate, their stories of trauma and the kindness of strangers.

I Seek a Kind Person is a gripping family memoir of grief, courage and hope, connecting us with multiple generations, distant continents and the hidden histories of our almost unimaginable past.

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Reviews

Jonathan Freedland, author of The Escape Artist
One extraordinary story after another... not only forensically well-researched but tender, evocative and deeply moving
Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare With Amber Eyes
A powerful, eloquent and deeply affecting book. I loved it
Fergal Keane, author of The Madness
A compelling account of love, loss and great courage... Beautiful, powerfully told and deserving of the widest possible audience
Philippe Sands, author of East West Street
Julian's book is profoundly affecting, part memoir, part detective story, part history, at once elegiac and fascinating, it is so deeply relevant for our times, I zipped through it withy the deepest personal interest
Fiona Hill, author of There Is Nothing for You Here
Intensely moving... an utterly absorbing read
David Miliband
Remarkable stories told with love, insight and respect... This book is more than a poignant eulogy - it has important lessons for the modern era
Lindsey Hilsum, author of In Extremis
An extraordinary book... a work of meticulous investigation... You may think you've read everything you need to about the Holocaust, but you haven't
Christophe Boltanski, author of The Safe House
Magnificent... One of the best books I have read on the "second generation" literature
Baroness Arminka Helic of Millbank, former Special Advisor to the UK Foreign Secretary
Raw, unflinching and honest
Alan Rusbridger
A terrifying and enthralling dissection of Europe's greatest crime. Part memoir, part detective story - Borger ensures we know the full horror of the Holocaust, through his own family's experience. This work is a crucial part of the Holocaust testimonies - a dark story which we need to keep front and centre
Hadley Freeman
Incredible... and so beautifully told. One of those books that reminds you that great sweeps of history are made up of individual human lives, as real and hopeful as any of us
Martin Sixsmith, author of The Lost Child of Philomena Lee
A moving account of the life changing impact of acts of kindness to strangers in need... a salutary reminder for our own times
David Rohde, author of In Deep
An astonishing, moving and unflinching work of courage
Mick Lynch
A book for anyone interested in social history and the nature of humanity... It brings a sweeping slice of history down to the very personal, the story of a father, of the decency of ordinary people. It shows that if people are given a start in life and a bit of security they can achieve great things, even in the face of terrible emotional damage
Lyse Doucet
Poignant beyond measure. In this dark telling, there is also light
Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control
Magnificent... a beautiful, heart-breaking, amazing book
Irish Times
'Borger's splendid narrative is as much that of a world now vanished - Habsburg Vienna and the Jews of central and eastern Europe - as it is that of survivors and the terrible burden they carried'
Guardian
A family memoir, a collective biography and a gripping detective story rolled into one
Daily Mail, Book of the Week
This is a compelling story, desperately sad yet shot through with moments of selflessness, hope and kindness, and Borger skilfully weaves the different strands of the narrative together