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How did an eleven-year old boy from the ancient city of Split, on the Adriatic coast, who with his family left almost everything when Nazis and Fascists invaded their homeland at the beginning of World War II, grow up to be a United States soldier and a highly successful American businessman? The answer to that question is the story that Michael Novakovic tells in this poi How did an eleven-year old boy from the ancient city of Split, on the Adriatic coast, who with his family left almost everything when Nazis and Fascists invaded their homeland at the beginning of World War II, grow up to be a United States soldier and a highly successful American businessman? The answer to that question is the story that Michael Novakovic tells in this poignant and charming memoir, A Pilgrim for Freedom. It is one part the account of a refugee family who barely survived explosions and hunger while seeking safety during World War II, and includes vivid descriptions of the hardships Mike, his siblings, and parents endured. It is another part the story of an immigrant family who came to the United States (by way of Argentina) after the war and with great ingenuity and industry worked their way up to levels of success that had been unimaginable during the darkest days of war. Finally, it is also the chronicle of a loyal and valiant soldier who sought to pay back his debts to the United States for defeating fascism and communism through distinguished service in the U.S. Air Force's intelligence operations. In sum, it is a riches-to-rags-to-riches story that testifies both to the resilience of one man and to the ideals of the nation that inspired him.


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How did an eleven-year old boy from the ancient city of Split, on the Adriatic coast, who with his family left almost everything when Nazis and Fascists invaded their homeland at the beginning of World War II, grow up to be a United States soldier and a highly successful American businessman? The answer to that question is the story that Michael Novakovic tells in this poi How did an eleven-year old boy from the ancient city of Split, on the Adriatic coast, who with his family left almost everything when Nazis and Fascists invaded their homeland at the beginning of World War II, grow up to be a United States soldier and a highly successful American businessman? The answer to that question is the story that Michael Novakovic tells in this poignant and charming memoir, A Pilgrim for Freedom. It is one part the account of a refugee family who barely survived explosions and hunger while seeking safety during World War II, and includes vivid descriptions of the hardships Mike, his siblings, and parents endured. It is another part the story of an immigrant family who came to the United States (by way of Argentina) after the war and with great ingenuity and industry worked their way up to levels of success that had been unimaginable during the darkest days of war. Finally, it is also the chronicle of a loyal and valiant soldier who sought to pay back his debts to the United States for defeating fascism and communism through distinguished service in the U.S. Air Force's intelligence operations. In sum, it is a riches-to-rags-to-riches story that testifies both to the resilience of one man and to the ideals of the nation that inspired him.

30 review for A Pilgrim for Freedom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Archit

    Beautifully written! A memoir that kept me occupied with it till the ending lines. The author's sincere and heartfelt journey, his and his family's struggles during the times of World War II are the occurrences detailed in the authobiography by Michael B. Novakovic . He lived in a country called Croatia and soon left for United States and became an immigrant and then an entrepreneurial giant there. A Pilgrim for Freedom is an articulate account of how an immigrant manages to become something big Beautifully written! A memoir that kept me occupied with it till the ending lines. The author's sincere and heartfelt journey, his and his family's struggles during the times of World War II are the occurrences detailed in the authobiography by Michael B. Novakovic . He lived in a country called Croatia and soon left for United States and became an immigrant and then an entrepreneurial giant there. A Pilgrim for Freedom is an articulate account of how an immigrant manages to become something big and unexpected in a foreign country with sheer willpower and resolution. A military officer, Novakovic has presented has admitted his experiences and recorded them in a pleasing fashion. His autobiography is a shining example. Historical facts were described fairly and managed to provide a lot of information. The author's inspiring journey from being an immigrant to achieving the American Dream and becoming a military officer and then a business tycoon has been documented in a way that moves and motivates a ton. For me it was a memoir that touched my heart and made me feel what it is to feel important and ambitious. In a lot of senses, this book has brought me stability and at the same time, determination to achieve my goals. Some parts in this book seemed to me that could have been skipped but nonetheless, an amazing experience it was reading them. Having read many books I can safely announce that it was one of the most inspiring work for me. Blending a biography, politics and history in one solid package was tremendous. Precise chapters, detailing the experiences of the author made the book all well. I would certainly recommend this terrific piece of one's life to all those who are interested in seeing a genuine and marvelous voyage altogether. "A book not to be missed by someone looking for great biographies."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ann Stankovsky

    Share this book! This should be required reading in high school. Sharing these life stories is the only way to infuse them into our tribal memories. Otherwise, each generation will have to start over.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Margie C. Holladay

    God bless America One of the most inspiring books I have ever read. I love America as much as you Mike.but I fear it is being consumed by those intent on destroying it for reasons beyond my comprehension. My consolation is that God is still in control. Thank you for your use of your life. We live in the greatest country in the world. The most amazing part of your story other God protection was your poor father's lugging the suitcase of gold all over the world. f the suitcase of gold God bless America One of the most inspiring books I have ever read. I love America as much as you Mike.but I fear it is being consumed by those intent on destroying it for reasons beyond my comprehension. My consolation is that God is still in control. Thank you for your use of your life. We live in the greatest country in the world. The most amazing part of your story other God protection was your poor father's lugging the suitcase of gold all over the world. f the suitcase of gold

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Dalton

    This self-congratulatory autobiography totally lost me after the writer finally made his way to America. Then it became an exceedingly dry tome on American military intelligence, with nothing exciting to add. Happy he made a great life for himself and his family, and loves America, but I didn't need to read about it. The writing was pretty good for an amateur, but could have used a lot of editing... This self-congratulatory autobiography totally lost me after the writer finally made his way to America. Then it became an exceedingly dry tome on American military intelligence, with nothing exciting to add. Happy he made a great life for himself and his family, and loves America, but I didn't need to read about it. The writing was pretty good for an amateur, but could have used a lot of editing...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Myra L Rice

    Young Yugoslavian Boy and Family Flee Communism and Facism Very interesting life account of Yugoslavian boy (actually Serbian) who with his family flee Communist and Racist rule. Living in Italy, South America and finally the U.S. Thank you, Michael Novakovic,, for your service to America!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Russ

    As a retired military and federal employee I could relate to some of My Novakovic's assignments. As a retired military and federal employee I could relate to some of My Novakovic's assignments.

  7. 5 out of 5

    AudioBookReviewer

    My original A Pilgrim for Freedom audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer. A Pilgrim for Freedom is a heartfelt letter to the author’s family and the United States. Michael Novakovic writes a lucid account of his and his family’s trials during World War II from his home country of Croatia to building a new home and new country in the United States. It is the gratitude only an immigrant can have because of the contrast with where they came from and where they were going My original A Pilgrim for Freedom audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer. A Pilgrim for Freedom is a heartfelt letter to the author’s family and the United States. Michael Novakovic writes a lucid account of his and his family’s trials during World War II from his home country of Croatia to building a new home and new country in the United States. It is the gratitude only an immigrant can have because of the contrast with where they came from and where they were going. However, the author, has a significant challenge, that primary skill which helped him succeed in the military is antithetical to success as an audiobook author of a memoir meant for the general public. A military officer, especially an intelligence officer, must report events truthfully and without embellishment and Novakovic has done this for an entire career and throughout the book. That, unfortunately, is what might leave many audiobook listeners hoping for two biographies to come from this book, one from his years in Croatia to the United States that could clearly be made into a feature film and the other for his entrepreneurial success which could inform the non-fiction circle of business hopefuls. I know many of those returning from service would want to know more about the Catholic University curriculum that led to so much success in business after the war, the freedom to be their own boss and to give orders rather than take them as the head of a successful company. In this book, Novakovic reports life and death events without the drama many audiobook listeners expect. The events he endured were dramatic, but his reporting of them factual. There is little buildup to the most harrowing events and a bit too much reporting on the pedantic ones like his school grades versus his brother’s. I believe a good editor would have been able to identify those parts that might have been interesting and relevant to the author, but not necessarily so for the audience. I don’t know that the author could write a drama if asked. I believe it would be against the type of person he is, a no-nonsense, honest, appreciative husband, parent, and decorated Air Force veteran. It would take a biographer or screenwriter to get the details, the moments of greatest concern, and build the tension and pacing necessary to satisfy expecting a drama within early part of the memoir. The other issue is one of privilege. It is incredibly difficult for a person who is wealthy, in two lives in this case, to write about strife without coming off as, well, affluent. Through the four jobs he worked at college and the continuous sacrifice he made, it’s clear privileged circumstances are not Michael Novakovic’s personality, but coming from a wealthy family, succeeding so readily in business, and then going home as royalty lends to a story that will distance rather than attract listeners. The more stories he told of difficulties, the more a listener could engage with the “I know what you mean.” My favorite part is when he earned money as a college student from vending machines and that when he went on dates, he paid with coins, that image of nickels and dimes in front of a woman he was trying to impress immediately let me connect to him as a person. As an audiobook reviewer I commit to listening to the entire book, but I believe in wanting to tell the whole story, the second half received short shrift. I believe this book would have benefitted from being split up into two volumes, the story of successfully leaving Croatia and getting to America for the history buff and the story of immigrant and entrepreneurial success expanded to help those who serve make it in the United States after the military. I hope the author finds the biographers to create these additional volumes, I would be certain to read them. About the Narrator John David Farrell, as some may know from The Survivalist series by Arthur T. Bradley, presents a rich and fitting voice to a tale that may lack some of the dramatic elements and multiple characters present in the fictional series. The narrator provides an expert performance, a true professional making the seven hour listen easy. I finished the book effortlessly in under a week. Each sentence has just enough pause to get the image, each paragraph with enough energy to bring life to it, John David Farrell’s pacing is spot on in this book. Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on December 19th: A Pilgrim for Freedom is one part biography, one part history, and one part political discussion. Michael Novakovic was just a boy when he and his family were forced to flee Yugoslavia due in part to rising violence as the Croatian militia began their fight for independence in earnest – including Serbian cleansing – and the Italian Fascists nearly executing his father. The year was 1942, and the Second World War had alread Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on December 19th: A Pilgrim for Freedom is one part biography, one part history, and one part political discussion. Michael Novakovic was just a boy when he and his family were forced to flee Yugoslavia due in part to rising violence as the Croatian militia began their fight for independence in earnest – including Serbian cleansing – and the Italian Fascists nearly executing his father. The year was 1942, and the Second World War had already begun. What follows is the story of Michael and his family’s exodus from Yugoslavia, their seven-year sojourn to the shores of the United States, Michael’s quest for citizenship and his US Army experience, as well as his later business entrepreneurship. This is a story detailing a life that lived the essence of the American Dream. The book is an engaging memoir that begins by detailing Michael’s pre-war childhood, which provides a stark contrast to his experiences throughout the war. It’s clear how his experiences with different military service members from various countries and political systems greatly influenced his desire to give back to the country he eventually came to view as home. The fact that he spent time in many countries over the year (Italy, Buenos Aires, Vietnam to name a few) and that many of the places were places of conflict at the time, keeps the pages turning quickly. The book is written in a style that is direct and to the point and the chapters are short. This allows for easy reading, even if you only have limited time. While it may lack some of the more polished vocabulary and sentence structures found in most popular books of our time, Michael’s decision to focus on the larger world events that framed his journey instead of trying to recount his emotional status at any given time (a pitfall of many memoirs) was a good choice. This worldview helps to ground the narrative in time, but also provides history lessons for many places and events that may have been glossed over (or never covered) by the American education system. Michael Novakovic displays more patriotic American pride in this book than many natural born citizens ever have in their entire lifetime. In a political climate that has completely polarized, an election year that is one of the most aggressive and embarrassing on record, and a society that has become obsessively focused on instant gratification and greed, this book is a beautiful reminder of how people can do wonderful things in horrible times. It is a glimpse of overcoming terrible odds, helping others when they are down, and giving back to a country and a people that made wonderful things possible. The author perhaps says it best: “My fear is that my fellow citizens are forgetting a historical era when the United States was truly a source of hope for most oppressed people in the world. I also worry that Americans are losing sight of the kind of society that values freedom, honor, responsibility, and industriousness. Perhaps, if others read about the life of an obscure boy from Split and his surprising journey to Villanova, Pennsylvania, they will marvel not at the boy or the man he became, but at the nation that made such a journey possible.”

  9. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    I received this book through the give-away program. So, a thank you to Michael Novakovic. The book starts with graphic descriptions of war and a history of Croatia and the surrounding areas. Michael's story comes in bits and pieces amid the historical facts. He documents his circuitous route to the United States and achievement of the American Dream through his wits and industry. His pride in and love for the United States is clear and at the end of the book I felt uplifted. A true history buff I received this book through the give-away program. So, a thank you to Michael Novakovic. The book starts with graphic descriptions of war and a history of Croatia and the surrounding areas. Michael's story comes in bits and pieces amid the historical facts. He documents his circuitous route to the United States and achievement of the American Dream through his wits and industry. His pride in and love for the United States is clear and at the end of the book I felt uplifted. A true history buff would probably rate this book higher than I did, but for me it was heavy on historical facts, and in places read a bit like a history text book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jean Ballentine

    A Marvelous Life I feel good after reading this book because it gave me a much needed boost in this time concerning the basic goodness and hopefulness of humanity as presented in the man who wrote it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    KarnagesMistress

    I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn W Thomas

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ramona C. Hays

  14. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Bateman

  15. 5 out of 5

    Steven Ridgely

  16. 5 out of 5

    Robert Monaghan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Seth Wise

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marcus O'Mary

  20. 5 out of 5

    John McGuffey

  21. 5 out of 5

    nancy anders

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chandru CS

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lois Faure

  24. 4 out of 5

    Robert DeZurik

  25. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Lough

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jan reynolds

  28. 4 out of 5

    Thomas A. Barrett, Jr.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andrea J. Sprecher

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lina Abi-Samra

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