INVENT RADIUM OR I'LL PULL YOUR HAIR: A Memoir

Doris Drucker, Author . Univ. of Chicago $22.50 (200p) ISBN 978-0-226-16503-5

The daughter of "German non-Jewish Jews," Drucker was three when WWI began. Growing up in Germany, war was always around her, as were fierce left-right political battles. A university student by the time Hitler came to power, she figured—like other "assimilated" Jews—that she should keep "a low profile until the Nazi tornado had passed over." In this memoir, too, Drucker lays low politically, focusing on the story of her childhood under her mother's severe rule. Drucker's mother hoped Drucker would become a scientist, and once shouted this memoir's titular phrase at her. Drucker and her siblings weren't allowed opinions on anything, from whether they were hungry to what their doll's name might be to what courses they'd take at the university. Although she'd studied abroad, Drucker only really left Germany in 1932, and not because she herself was worried, but thanks to a visiting Dutch relative who was appalled by Nazi street riots. She found work in London, where she ran into her old flame, Austrian journalist Peter Drucker (who later became a management guru). They married and emigrated to the U.S., where they've both had careers for the past 60 years. Drucker, who went on to become a successful businesswoman, is in her 90s now, but her taste for irony is still sharp. She recalls the gruesome stories—Grimm's fairy tales, the Nibelung saga—they read as kids, which they simply accepted as "part of our European heritage"; she reminds readers that the knights in armor they romanticized were "the original teenage gangbangers." A feisty read! Photos. (May)

FYI: An excerpt of this book appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1998.

Reviewed on: 04/12/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Discover what to read next
TIP SHEET
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X
X