Posted by: istop4books | February 6, 2010

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

NOTE PLEASE FOR THOSE WHO POST COMMENTS:  I will no longer accept comments on religion, per se. I will be happy to accept comments on the book, on the writing style, on the facts but I’m not willing to get into religious discussions.
Two stars.  A million stars for Corrie and her family – that absolutely goes without saying.  But as for the book itself?  That’s the best I can do on a book that came highly recommended and that I read with relish as I had just been to Amsterdam and surrounding areas, visited the Museum of the Resistance and the old Jewish Synagogue referred to in the book.  So why two stars?
I just didn’t believe a lot of what I read. Here’s what I do believe.  I think Corrie, her sister Betsy, her father and other family members were courageous, passionate, religious, pro-active and bold.  They did what many in Holland did, but what many chose not to do.  They put their lives on the line to help with a very unpopular cause.  They risked their necks to hide jews, feed them, comfort them and resist the authority of their German invaders.  In that I find them commendable.  The father figure was an admirable man, a man of principle who lived truly an exemplary life and imparted his teachings to not only his family, but all who surrounded him.  A man of peace, but of strong determination.  A man of immensely strong faith which he passed along to his children.  So far, so good.
So what’s my squabble?  The book was written a full 25 years after the facts, and I think it shows.  Corrie was in her late 70′s when the book was written, and it was written by two people who weren’t there.  The narrative at times becomes too convenient, too sugar coated.  There were no fights amongst the throngs of people living in the beje.  I think the old saying that “time heals everything” clearly applies to this book, as  it seems to be a bit whitewashed in the veil of faith in Jesus to solve all, in prayers that constantly come through and in the miracle of the never ending vitamins.  Call me a sceptic, but I found the constant references to Jesus annoying.  I most certainly think we all believe in God when in the trenches, but I don’t believe in the Santa Claus God who gave to Corrie, but withheld from others who were praying just as hard.  It came across as preachy and childish all these years later. So many people were hurt, humiliated, beaten, and brutally murdered — and I am sure just about each and every one of them prayed to their Jesus as well.
To end on a positive note — the faith that this family had, the true faith in doing the right thing — is admirable; when Corrie wrote “released” in her jail cell to signify the death of (blank so as not to print a spoiler), she showed a deep and profound faith in that death is not the end, only a fresh start in a better place.  Her fortitude and strength were truly remarkable.
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Responses

  1. Hi there. I happened upon your blog by googling “Corrie ten Boom.”

    I read your review and wanted to make a couple of comments.

    Age makes no difference in writing and having two other authors benefited the book.

    The other two authors were a husband/wife team who interviewed many who were mentioned in the book, and they also visited some of the places mentioned in the book.
    http://www.elizabethsherrill.com/sherrill_corrie_working.html

    It may help you to watch the movie, “The Hiding Place.”

    You have grown up differently from how Corrie was brought up. Not only is it a different time, but it’s also a different culture. You can’t bring modern ways into reading an historical book and giving a review.

    I didn’t see the book as preachy at all. She was recounting the experiences of what it was like in a hell camp and how God answered her prayers. She was a woman of great faith which is something one can’t understand if that faith is not shared.

    The sad truth is that many don’t love God, pray to Him or know Him. Even in the trenches. There are many gods, but only one, true God.

    The best selling book, “The Holy Bible,” would be a great reference tool for you to see if the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob doesn’t do miracles for those who love Him and serve Him. You’ll find miracles in the Old and New Testament.

    Corrie’s God is not a santa claus God. Nor did she say that He witheld from others and only answered her prayers. That is not implied in the book at all.

    In fact, God took her sister who had great faith herself, but allowed Corrie to live. That is why she has shared the things that happened. She believed that that is why God spared her life.

  2. Hi Laina,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment on my review.
    I think we approach the book from two different places of religion and spiritual belief and that will always cause a great divide. I’ve read The Holy Bible, but most probably in a context different than yours. I believe there are many paths to the same place and respect many different points of view on the subject, but I maintain what I wrote and my review. I appreciate your thoughts although I think we will have to agree to disagree.

    • I’m sorry Micsadaisy, but I’m removing your comment as this is not a discussion regarding religion.

  3. istop4books,

    I think The Hiding Place was an amazing book and Corrie Ten Boom was an amazing Christian. It does not matter how old she was, she wrote down the facts! The Holy Bible is indeed Holy and like Liana said, Corrie was a woman of faith– you don’t know what that is like until you see how wonderful God truly is and experience His love and that faith.

    It is true, people rely more on God when they are going through hard times, so it would make sense that that is why God allows difficult things to happen. So that His limited creatures might understand how helpless they are, and how strong and mighty He is.

    God does everything for a reason and you can’t say that He loves some more than others because he allowed some to live, and others to not. Take Joseph for example, God allowed him to be sold by his own family and later thrown into prison, while he was still innocent! Joseph lived in the terrible prison cell for 7 years, and all of that was for the glory of God because afterwards, Joseph became the 2nd in command of Egypt and saved the nation from a famine! Do you see how awesome the one and only God truly is???

  4. Again – we’re approaching this from different places in our life paths. I will not tell you how to be spiritual or religious, I’d appreciate the same respect.

  5. Hi. Sorry, I’m not trying to tell you how to live. I just want you to know that there aren’t many paths to heaven. I feel pity on you because you do not know the truth. I’m only a teenager, but I can see God working through my life and raining His blessing upon me.

    As the book goes, I believe that Corrie was a strong Christian and her story is a true and amazing one. Those miracles Corrie wrote about were amazing, and true. That is what God is capable of.

  6. I’m only a teenager, but I can see God working through my life and raining His blessing upon me.

    That explains a lot. Good luck to you in your quest for the righteous, narrow path!

  7. Yo.
    I haven’t read the book (yet) but I’m doing a report on it for my Holocaust class. While so far I’ve heard all about thier couragusness and all that blah-de-blah, i did think that a few of the clippings I did read were a little preachy. Good to know I’m not the only one

  8. You have to read it almost as two separate books. The preachiness is there, but the events did happen. The thing is that with age, we tend to have selective memories, and over the years we block out many things that were negative in our lives, otherwise, living to 70, 80, or beyond would be flippin’ unbearable. So had she written this book within a year or so of the war, perhaps it would have had a different rhythm and a different edge to it. And while I respect her devotion and religion, I clearly don’t share it, so that makes my opinion of the book biased as well.
    The Holocaust was an abominable event and one has to wonder how God could limit his miracles to making extra vitamins appear in her jar to hand out to her prison-mates when so many atrocities were occurring all around them. Good luck with your class and check back when you’ve finished the book!

  9. I’d love to hear your review of Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World.

  10. Actually I absolutely read the Bible out of the context which you do.

    Again, there are people in the world who have beliefs which differ from yours. They should be respected.

  11. I’m completely serious. I wasn’t meaning to sound disrespectful.

  12. Sam, I took no disrespect from your post. It was someone else’s which prompted me to post that I will no longer accept comments on religion.

    I just checked out the book you mention on Amazon, and it’s probably not one I’d add to my reading list at the moment. Over 30 years ago, I read many of those books, in college and post-college, with a group of professionals to guide and provide additional comments and questions to explore.
    I’m no longer interested either in defending my beliefs nor making even the feeblest of attempts at persuading anyone else one way or the other.

  13. I just wanted to be sure – thank you. I hope you enjoy your other reads. (:

  14. Everyone should read this book!!!!! I Rate IT TEN Stars. It is a great book (=^-^=)
    \~/
    I am the glass is half full, kinda person.

  15. What impacted me the most in this book was not how war affected the Ten Boom family and their heroic endevours, but how they grew more gracious, loving and thankful the harsher life became. To the point of thanking God for fleas. This defies logic and reason. It is one thing to set up a home to help war ravaged victims recover but to go back to the country who brutalised and murdered her family and countrymen and extend mercy love and forgiveness to them,….well how is that possible.This is the true inspiring miracle of the storie for me.

  16. Hi,
    I have just read this book and I really enjoyed it, so am now reading another of her books ‘In My Fathers House’, which I am also really enjoying.
    I felt the book was very simply written – which I guess seems genuine given the simplicity of character Corrie seems to have- but felt that Corrie’s honesty that 1) the family were not being heroic but just doing what good they could in that horrifying situation 2) That they were prepared to both live and die for this – not as some grand gesture but beause they simply felt called to it and 3) Corrie’s incredulity that her sister Betsy could endure and love people and situations she battled with were all themes that touched me and have left me searching why I sometimes find it difficult to forgive those who have done much less to me.
    I understand why it may be a little unbelievable how perfectly good the family appear to be BUT you have to recognise this in the context of the time and how different families were 100 years ago. There are aso allusions to difficult and strained family relationships (thinking of her aunts and her slight feelings of inadequecy next to her sister Betsy) and in My Fathers House further allusions to some family turmoils, some of Corrie’s own more difficult traits and her fathers liking of debate but these are not dwelt upon much as they are not central to the overall story.
    Ultimately the fact that the Ten Booms are not at all defined by their awful deaths but what they did and enjoyed in life and what they did for others to define their lives and their faith is a great thing to be reading about in these ego centric – celebrity seeking and self gratifying times.

  17. I also have to agree with Julia on her view of the book. I am 34 and think she is on the right track. God IS a God of miracles that works through faith. As described in the book; he still is answering to those who call. Sorry to sound so blah,blah blah. But I also know, as Corrie says, God’s great love.

  18. I read the book as a teenager in the 70s and oddly the cloak and dagger qualities present and the history of the time and place fascinated and caught my imagination. I just watched the film, which I had not seen before, and to some degree, I find the constant allusion to god and Jesus a bit annoying too; but as I see it, they are not preachy, because preachy implies talking at someone with the intent of changing them, convincing them, or correcting them (not unlike some of the “Christians” who have replied). The Ten Booms seemed only to be conveying their experience, wrapped as it was in their heart-felt beliefs. For them it was their way of being authentic. Indeed, they seem to be the rare followers of Jesus who are interested in trying to love all of humanity. I have rarely, if ever, found that the two go together. I read that Miss Ten Boom attributes her ability to make the choices she did to God acting through her, and I believe that this was, in small part, at the heart of her compassion. But I don’t believe that she is completely correct. I think that her capacity, as well as that of others who did the same kinds of things, is more correctly found within their very human hearts. And wherever the attribute may lie, the ability to stand up to tyranny and hatred while putting one’s self in great peril, and the indomitable spirit required is one of the most beautiful things that we may be privileged to see while living out our lives. This is the strength and beauty of this book.

  19. Since reading The Hiding Place so many years ago, Corrie Ten Boom has been someone who I have looked up to as an example of one who lived an exemplarly life in Christ. For me, Corrie experienced answers to her prayers, but at the same time, those answers were often NOT immediate. Instead, the answers often came over time after suffering loss and pain. The answers were not always answers that she immediately understood, but rather, she came to understand in retrospect, after the passage of time. I completely understand that her experiences were so amazing that it is hard to believe; yet, if one has faith, one believes that the ways of God are not mans’ ways and are unlimited. Thank you for your review.


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