In My Grandfather’s Shadow

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

In 1987, Angela Findlay walked into a prison and instantly but inexplicably felt at home. For years she had wrestled with a sense of ‘badness’ within her. But working with prisoners was just the beginning of her search for answers that took her to Nazi Germany and the life of her dead grandfather, who, it emerged, was a decorated general on the Eastern front. In a rare confluence of memoir, psychology and historical detective story, this is Findlay’s account of her unflinching quest for the truth about her German family, one that breaks through the silence surrounding many of the Second World War’s perpetrators.

In My Grandfather’s Shadow explores the heritability of unresolved experiences, questions deeply held perceptions of good and bad, and uncovers the lesser-known history of the war’s losers, a post-war culture of apology and atonement, and the lingering legacy of shame. Using her own family story to explore an episode in history that continues to appal and fascinate, Findlay reveals that it is possible not only for the scars of trauma to be handed down through generations, but also for them to be healed.

© Angela Findlay 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022

Critics Review

  • A remarkable cross-pollination of memoir, psychology and history in which the author comes to grips with being the granddaughter of a Nazi general.

    i Paper
  • A compelling journey through guilt and shame that asks fundamental and painful questions about the extent of a family member’s participation in one of the biggest crimes of the 20th century.

    Derek Niemann, author of A Nazi in the Family
  • [A] remarkable memoir …. It’s a powerful investigation into the individual personal cost that results from wider history, and the ways in which inherited guilt and trauma can leave scars across generations.

    The Bookseller
  • This is an absolutely extraordinary book. In peeling back the layers of her family history, Angela Findlay reveals a vast, hidden European story that few nations have ever been brave enough to confront.

    Keith Lowe, Sunday Times bestselling author of Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II
  • A page turner of the highest calibre! Meticulously researched, searingly honest and beautifully written, this timely book is a salient reminder of how intergenerational relationships connect threads between past and present.
    The author skillfully excavates her grandfather’s life putting the family puzzle together piece by piece to create a forensic and fascinating portrait of the past. Her book gives new meaning to the prescient words of psychoanalyst, Roger Woolger: ‘It is the responsibility of the living to heal the dead. Otherwise their unfinished business will continue to play out in our fears, phobias and illnesses.

    Marina Cantacuzino, Author and founder of The Forgiveness Project

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