Thrown Upon the World

Authored by George Kolber and Charles Kolber, Thrown Upon the World recounts the tumultuous true story of two families whose lives intersect in World War II Shanghai.

It is 1938 when the Kolbers, affluent Viennese Jews, flee their country after its annexation by the Nazis for Shanghai, one of the few places in the world that will accept Jews. A year earlier, the politically powerful Gan Chen family finds their lives upended by Japanese invaders.  Abandoning their estate in Zhenru, they seek refuge in Shanghai.

Walter Kolber, a handsome violinist meets the beautiful Chao Chen, a gifted pianist, at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. After a forbidden romance blossoms, Chao Chen discovers she is pregnant.  The lovers marry in secret and with their newborn son, they leave Shanghai in 1946 for a Displaced Persons Camp in Linz, Austria.  As Chao Chen grapples with language and cultural barriers, the family experiences poverty, racism, and mental anguish.  Walter abandons Chao Chen taking three sons including George and Charles to the United States, quickly giving them up to foster care. 

Interweaving historical events, archival material, and personal interviews, Thrown Upon the World reads like a novel.  Available in hardcover and paperback through Archway Publishing, a division of Simon & Schuster www.archwaypublishing.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?Book=769749.

Article in The Two River Times.

Article in New Jersey Jewish News.

Article from HIAS

Critique: An incredible and simply fascinating account, Thrown Upon the World: A True Story is one of those real life tales the stuff of which block-buster television mini-series are made. A simply riveting and memorable read from beginning to end, Thrown Upon the World: A True Story will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Thrown Upon the World: A True Story is also available in a paperback edition (978-1480862616, $33.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99). - From Midwest Literary Review

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