Reviews of Finding Phil
Like all true odysseys and love stories, Finding Phil begins with the wholly unexpected-- a package that leads the author to explore the life of an uncle he never knew. The story that emerges reveals webs of interconnection about identity within the author’s family and within the human family. Built on interviews, historical research, travel and contemplation, Levy's journey involves the nature of war, the impact of war deaths on families, and our indebtedness to ancestors.
A fascinating journey of discovery and reclamation shaping generations touched by loss. There is a wonderful, yet tragic irony in discovering how much still remains to mark the life of one Jewish soldier fighting in a Europe trying to eradicate Jewish life and memory. Compelling gems throughout surprise and inspire as the author shares things he never perceived in his own family and allows us to wrestle with issues of human choice, legacy, and responsibility.
Tom White, Coordinator of Educational Outreach, Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2016
By Steffi on August 6, 2016
In 1987 Paul Levy received a package from the estate of the widow of his uncle, Phil, who died in World War II when Levy was just a year old. The package contained a journal kept by Phil, along with a Purple Heart and some photos and letters. In a moving prologue to the book, Levy talks about silence as a response to grief; it had been his family's response to Phil's death, but the bequest from Phil's widow inspired Levy to break the silence and tell Phil's story. Since family members who had known Phil were themselves all dead by now, Levy's wish to reconstruct his uncle's life and the circumstances of his death led him down many different roads. The overall theme of the book is the story of that journey, but in fact there are many stories here, all of them fascinating, some amusing, many very moving, and a few quite grim. I found myself as invested in getting to know more about Levy himself, as the "searcher", as I was in wanting to find out about Phil. In addition, Levy gives us the background history of the battles in World War II that flesh out Phil's experiences, presenting his narrative of these battles from the perspective of the soldiers who fought on the ground and in the tanks. This perspective makes all too vivid the experience of war as a series of fights for this piece of land, that crest of the mountain, this road; sometimes won by the allies, sometimes lost. I won't give away the ending but suffice it to say that it is powerful, and clearly made the long search worthwhile. I highly recommend this book!
By Cheryl L. Dwyer on July 23, 2016
I began reading the book on Thursday and was captivated... just finished it today (Saturday). It's a wonderfully crafted book, lovingly written, and very interesting. I was never a history buff and only "experienced" war (Korean and Vietnam) second-hand through talking with family members--who really didn't want to discuss their experiences... But Paul Levy's inquiry into his Uncle Phil's war experiences and life gave me a greater insight into why a soldier risks his life for his country, for his family, for his beliefs... along with a history lesson on WWII that is easy to understand. Thank you for sharing Phil's story!
Review from BookConcious by Deb Baker