Perils and Pearls Book Review
This is the story of a Dutch family, resident in the Dutch East Indies, that fell victim to the Japanese occupation and was interned in jungle camps throughout the war.
About Perils and Pearls
In World War II much of Asia fell under Japanese control after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. All non-Asians were imprisoned in concentration camps until August of 1945, the end of the war in the Pacific. This is the story of a Dutch family, resident in the Dutch East Indies, that fell victim to the Japanese occupation and was interned in jungle camps throughout the war. It tells the journey from riches to rags, from fear and suffering, to the joy of freedom and recovery.
I love reading historical novels, documentaries and biographies. They give a intimate look at a period of time, offering new insight and encourages you to take a deeper look at a time period, to research more and understand the people, lives and cultures.
This book does just that, I never knew about the Dutch that lived in Indonesia and the route to Indonesia Independence. This was never discussed at school and I don’t think I have ever seen this in media accounts or in any of the books that I have read that covered this time period. Perils and Pearls gave an interesting account of the Dutch living in Indonesia before the war broke and during, the road to Indonesia’s independence and how this intersected with World War II.
In her book, we learn the history of her family who lived both in Indonesia and the Netherlands. Many times, their family members came back to the Netherlands but somehow always found their way back to Indonesia, which is where they called home. This is where Hulda found herself when the Japanese invaded Indonesia.
We dive into the Japanese invasion of Indonesia and learn about what happened to those living there that were imprisoned in civilian concentration camps. Hulda, her Mother and brother were imprisoned in one of these camps, while her Father (a soldier) escaped to Australia on a mission. We get an intimate look at the fears, horrors and moments of hope for her family. Her Mother’s fears of how this would affect their growth, watching her child become sick and suffer and not being able to stop this. The children’s general curiosity that tended to get them in trouble. The strength of these civilians is incredible – faced with the unthinkable, they stuck together and did their best to survive. They had no idea of what happened to family members outside of the camp, how they would ever reach them again but they still fought on, living and surviving.
This is well written look at events that are important in our history and as we move forward a lesson that we can all learn from to ensure this never happens again. It is a story of survival at all costs, hope for the future and healing. She writes in an unique manner, telling the story how it happened but does not insert hate or blame. This is an excellent book for young adults and adults to read, to understand the mistakes of the past, how we can ensure it never happens again and to appreciate the sacrifices those who came before us gave. A definite must read, I could not put this one down.
About the Author
Hulda Bachman–Neeb was born in Indonesia of colonial Dutch parentage two years before the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. Because much of Asia fell under Japanese control, all non-Asians were imprisoned in concentration camps until August of 1945, the end of the war in the Pacific. As a member of the Dutch Foreign Service in her adult life, Hulda held assignments in twenty-five countries over a period of thirty-six years, retiring in 1996. She is married to an American, James Bachman, a historian and author, and has dual citizenship. Hulda and her husband live in Estes Park, Colorado.
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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.