Endpapers: A Family Story of Books, War, Escape, and Home

Alexander Wolff. Atlantic Monthly, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5825-3
Former Sports Illustrated journalist Wolff (The Audacity of Hoop) delivers a poignant portrait of his grandfather, Pantheon Books founder Kurt Wolff, and his own father, Niko Wolff, who served in the German military in WWII despite his Jewish heritage. Kurt Wolff emerges in this account as a bon vivant and something of a womanizer, yet also a man deeply committed to art and culture, who helped to foster the careers of Franz Kafka, Boris Pasternak, and Günter Grass. When Kurt fled Germany in 1933, his son and daughter, both teenagers, stayed with their mother, Kurt’s ex-wife and a member of the Merck pharmaceutical family, in Munich. During the war, Niko served as a driver and mechanic for the Luftwaffe. Afterwards, he reunited with his father in America, where he became a successful chemist for DuPont and such a proud U.S. citizen, Wolff writes, “that I never believed he spoke with an accent, even as his friends insisted, he did.” Wolff skillfully contextualizes his father and grandfather’s tales with military and political history; details links between Merck and the Nazi regime; and uncovers family secrets, including the existence of his father’s illegitimate half-brother. History buffs and literary enthusiasts will be rewarded. Agent: Andrew Blauner, Blauner Books. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/15/2020
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-8021-5827-7
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