Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Nora's Amazing Life
Just how different the two were can be understood if you read Nora's book about how she left the Soviet Union in 1922.
The world's first communist revolution was imposed on Russia in 1917 by a group called Bolsheviks. Motivated and instructed by the theories of Karl Marx, these insurrectionists developed their tactics and strategies under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin.
A major component of their revolutionary plan was large-scale redistribution of Russian lands, businesses and all other assets. The disruptive effects of that communist reprogramming of an entire nation are glaringly evident in Nora Percival's first-person account.
To read about such things in history books, or in Dr. Zhivago, is one thing.
To read about it from the eyewitness perspective of a child is quite another.
One of Nora Percival's most traumatic losses during that time was the loss of her Mishka bear, a dearly beloved doll that we would think of as a teddy bear.
But a more significant trauma in the big picture of her life was the four-year separation from her father, at the age tender age of three. The disruption and displacement of their family ultimately demanded her mother's life--her mother, the delicate woman whose favorite activity was playing Chopin and Debussy on the piano.
Her father had been a successful factory-owner in czarist times. But his business prowess was a threat to the new regime. The revolutionary government was busy rearranging, according to Marxist-Leninist theory, the entire structure of land use, industry development and job assignment in the Russia of the 1920's. When Papa discerned the destructive program that would be imposed on his business and his life, he felt compelled to act in the best protective interests of his family; he left Russia, to establish a path in which his wife and daughter would later follow. By a round-the-world route, he wound up here in America.
His departure, and the family's suffering and deprivation under bureaucratic Bolshevik tyranny, are the stuff of Nora's amazing story, a truly historic memoir. Her account of the long, torturous trip from Russia to New York presents not only a clear picture of her personal triumph over adverse circumstances, but also a clear picture of the world-wide swell of immigration to America that happened during that era.
This final testament of Nora Lourie Percival's childhood odyssey, penned in the latter years of her 102-year life, is an amazing testimony of her personal triumph. But it is much more significant than a personal memoir. The book presents an historic, though contemporarily relevant, view of that very disruptive era of world history. Here's an authentic, insider account of the tribulations that compelled so many wayfarers to pass beneath Lady Liberty and then embark at Ellis Island to partake of our burgeoning American liberty.
Nora's writerly skills are precise and highly developed, nascent during a perilous youth in which reading three languages had become her best escape from the perpetual ordeal of fleeing post-revolutionary Russia. Having lost her little Mishka-bear, young Nora took refuge in reading. Her lyrical writing reflects an exceptional conversion of that childhood literacy into a phenomenal story in the annals of world history.
You should read it.