Travel the World in Books Challenge: Albania

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I’ve got another book to cross off my Travel the World in Books Challenge! This time it’s Albania.

Albania is a country in Europe with a population of roughly 3,029,278. Their government is currently a parliamentary democracy, although in the past, it was communist, as you’ll hear more about with the book I read. The capital is Tirana, though the main person in the book, Fr. Zef Pllumi, lived at the Franciscan College in Shkodër, which you can see at the top of Albania in the map.

Map of Albania

Pictures and facts from the CIA World Factbook:

The book that I picked to read for Albania is (disclaimer: affiliate link) Live to Tell: A True Story of Religious Persecution in Communist Albania by Fr. Zef Pllumi.

This book is an autobiographical book written by a Franciscan friar who was imprisoned and tortured for being Catholic under the reign of communism in Albania. He endured so much, even while reading it you truly come to understand that it was a miracle and that he found the will to live and to keep going, because it was truly harsh stuff that he endured. Cramped conditions, beatings/torture, near starvation, forced labor, and more.

Before this, I had very little idea about communism in Albania – or in fact, anything about Albania as all. This happened in the mid to late 1940s, so a lot of the history we learned during school revolves around World War II, for understandable reasons. Still, I strive to learn history from all over and so this book was a good piece to that. However, at the same time, it is a personal story, so you don’t really see completely the politics going on on the broader level. But it is a very interesting glimpse into a very dark period.

Fr. Pllumi’s hope and faith was inspiring, to say the least. He remained convinced even when a few others around him gave in to save their own lives. It also showed some encouraging inter-faith relationships in the prison, the way that only people who have a common oppressor can come to see. It also definitely wrenched at your hearts as some of Fr. Pllumi’s friends die and as you see them endure horrible things. And you can’t read a book like this without thinking about your own life and situation and how blessed you are.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history and/or true stories of religious persecution. It is a bit of a slog to get through – it’s originally translated into English from Albanian and I think sometimes a bit gets lost in translation, but it’s still a worthwhile read.

Have you ever read any good books about Albania? How much do you know about Albania? 

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