Against the Odds

A Story of Resilience, Self-Reliance, & Determination

Non-Fiction - Biography
176 Pages
Reviewed on 03/24/2024
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Author Biography

Dr. Carlos Marcelo Löffler, PhD, is a retired Plant Geneticist and Agronomist with a wealth of international experience in agricultural research, spanning both private industry and public institutions. Raised in Argentina, he currently resides with his wife Zulema in Fort Collins, Colorado, United States. With this biography, Dr. Löffler seamlessly transitions from publishing scientific articles to captivating non-fiction subjects of universal interest.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Against the Odds: A Story of Resilience, Self-Reliance, & Determination is a work of non-fiction in the biography, slice of life, and inspirational writing subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Penned by author Carlos M. Löffler, this fascinating and dedicated work chronicles the extraordinary life of a teenage girl from a German settlement in Paraguay, forced to relinquish her baby boy to a yerba mate trader in Buenos Aires. Raised in poverty after his foster father's death, the boy navigates the streets of Buenos Aires, scavenging for food to support his family. Despite his challenging upbringing and lack of familial support, he educates himself and perseveres, eventually discovering his true identity and reconnecting with his roots. Despite imprisonment and torture, he rises to become a successful bank executive and family man, leaving behind a legacy of resilience and determination.

Author Carlos M. Löffler has crafted a work filled with meticulous attention to detail and poignant storytelling that transported me completely to the German settlement in Paraguay and the bustling streets of Buenos Aires in the early 20th century. The resilience and determination on display in every well-described moment of this work served as a powerful reminder of the human capacity for survival and perseverance. I was impressed with the creative style of narrative that allows us to get closer emotionally and psychologically. Löffler's vivid descriptions and factual depictions of life in different settings, along with the political turmoil of Argentina, add authenticity and context to the narrative for readers outside the situation to access and understand it properly. As I followed Alfonso Löffler's journey from adversity to success, I was deeply inspired by his unwavering spirit and the sacrifices of his family. Overall, Against the Odds is a highly recommended read for biography fans everywhere.

Joseph Ogbonna

Against The Odds is a real-life story penned by Carlos M. Löffler. Alfonso Ramon Löffler left this world without giving his children sufficient knowledge about his origins. His children had to combine information and travel long distances to learn more about their father. Alfonso had to tough it out against impossible odds. Born out of wedlock in a society that looked down on illegitimate children, his mother, Isabel, was stigmatized by the community and shunned by her family. Eventually, Isabel ceded custody of baby Alfonso to a yerba mate trader from the then-booming city of Buenos Aires. But bad times soon befell Alfonso: his foster father died of tuberculosis when the boy was nine, and the family fell into abject poverty. His foster mother then made him take a petty job to support her and her older and preferred biological son, who could not hold down a job. Alfonso lacked familial support. However, his story stands out as an example of how to make a difference despite the odds.

Against the Odds is a true and unique life story that explores themes of resilience, self-reliance, and determination in the face of adversity. Carlos M. Löffler has done an excellent job of piecing together his father's fascinating life story. The chapters are logically presented with vivid and concise descriptions of places, events, dates, and people. Alfonso's perseverance, determination, and strength of character are all evident throughout the narrative, and this inspires me to keep striving, regardless of the situation. With each page I turned, the deeper I was drawn into Alfonso's world, rooting for his triumphs and empathizing with his struggles. Against the Odds is a testament to the strength of the human will and a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always a glimmer of hope shining through.

Jamie Michele

Against the Odds by Carlos M. Löffler is a biography that follows Alfonso, born in a German Catholic settlement in Paraguay in 1917 and adopted by Eduardo Ramón and Juana Bastida in Argentina after his mother arranged it due to financial hardships. Raised in Buenos Aires, he had a privileged upbringing until after Eduardo's death in 1926, when the family fell into hardship. Experiencing poverty, instability, and expulsion from school, Alfonso found love and stability with José and Martina Rodriguez. Later, he finds career stability in banking and makes a surprising discovery about his Paraguayan roots, reconnecting with his biological family. Alfonso married Amelia, had children, and confronted career issues in the shadow of a political scandal. Flourishing initially, they faced oppression under Perón's regime, leading to personal persecution, financial ruin, and pervasive fear among the family. The couple concentrated on their children's education, weathering the social and political tumult of the 1970s and 1980s.

Against the Odds: A Story of Resilience, Self-Reliance, & Determination is an interesting look at the progression of a family through the story of its 20th-century patriarch in South America. There's no question that Alfonso lived a full life, and while almost everyone is told that they could write a book on their lives, Carlos M. Löffler actually accomplished this for Alfonso. For me, the most interesting parts were when Alfonso's story reflected back on the historical context of Argentina and what the demographic that he happened to fit into was experiencing collectively at the time; the disparities between underdeveloped rural areas and the flourishing urban centers like Buenos Aires, the cultural influences prevalent during Alfonso's formative years and the literary, artistic, and musical scenes, and the phenomenon of conventillos. I thought that Löffler's writing was at its best when he chose to focus on the cultural milieu of the time; daily routines, social and leisure activities, and snapshots of everyday life, from Sunday afternoon Canasta games to summer vacations in Mar del Plata. The writing is clean and bends toward the academic, and I can see this book being well-received by readers who appreciate history and political science. However, I think this book will be most loved by the generations of Alfonso Löffler's descendants to come, who will no doubt treasure this legacy memoir and deep insight into their family history.

Luwi Nyakansaila

Against the Odds is a biography that tells the story of Alfonso Löffler. Sadly, in November 1988, Alfonso passed away from a massive stroke, leaving behind his five children: Daniel, Diego, Hugo, Alicia, and Carlos M. Löffler. Each of them had their own unique memories of their father's incredible life. After Alfonso's passing, his children embarked on a journey to discover more about their father's past. They worked together to research and gather letters and photos, uncovering details and pieces of Alfonso's life. Through their diligent efforts, they were able to trace Alfonso's origins back to a German settlement in Paraguay. They learned about his childhood with his foster family in Argentina and why he had no connection to his paternal family. Throughout their research, they discovered the remarkable determination, work ethic, and hardships that their father had to overcome to build a successful career and raise a family.

Alfonso's journey is a miraculous tale of strength and resilience in the face of adversity. It is an inspirational, heartwarming tale that will motivate and inspire others to believe in their abilities and strive for greatness. The family has included personal touches in the biography, such as letters, photos, and certificates, which add a deeper level of intimacy and uniqueness to their father's experiences. These elements make this book more engaging and memorable. The details provide a deep insight into the oppressive regime under which Alfonso lived and worked, and readers will feel transported back in time and remember the historical moments mentioned. Against the Odds is a must-read for anyone who loves emotionally engaging real-life stories that inspire them to rise above their circumstances.

Doreen Chombu

Against the Odds by Carlos M. Löffler is the biography of his father, Alfonso Löffler, who overcame the harsh realities of life, became successful, and raised a wonderful family. Alfonso was born out of wedlock to a poor, uneducated Austrian German mother in Paraguay and was later put up for adoption. He had a happy childhood with his foster family in Argentina until his foster father died from tuberculosis. Unfortunately, he was ill-treated by his foster mother, who preferred her biological son over him. As he grew up, he learned about his true origins and tried to reconnect with his mother's family. As years went by, Alfonso started working in a bank and eventually got married. However, due to the unstable political climate in Argentina, Alfonso faced losses, and at one point, he was even tortured. This lack of safety led to his children moving to the United States. Through his biography, readers will get to know Alfonso and learn about his remarkable life story.

It was heartwarming to see Alfonso's children come together to compile a book like Against the Odds to honor his hard work and determination. This gesture not only preserves Alfonso's legacy but shows the impact that dedication and perseverance can have on the lives of loved ones. Alfonso's story is incredibly powerful and serves as a reminder never to give up on one's dreams, regardless of one's background. It highlights the importance of self-belief and seizing every opportunity for personal growth and improvement. The book is a testament to the resilience and strength of the human spirit, inspiring others to strive for success and happiness, no matter the obstacles they may face. Alfonso was a complex man who, like any other person, had his flaws. I am glad these were mentioned in his biography, as it adds depth and authenticity to the story. The book also includes pictures that give readers visual descriptions of the places and people mentioned. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned many life-changing lessons from it.