A Writing Life: Revisiting the Past

Stanley Weintraub. ELT, $30 (404p) ISBN 978-0-944318-79-9
This posthumously published work from biographer and historian Weintraub (1929–2010) proves a superb blend of personal and scholarly recollections. Drawing on “files going back to my curious birth certificate and my first-grade report card,” he reconstructs his life in rich and often amusing detail, beginning with his first literary effort at age 10: after Hitler invaded Poland, Weintraub had the “unrealistic ambition... to write my own war history as it happened,” tracing troop movement diagrams from newspapers and listening to sometimes spotty radio broadcasts from London. Weintraub’s expansive but fluid narrative carries the reader through his military service—drafted during the Korean War, he was assigned to a hospital for POWs, though he’d never seen “a prisoner of war except on bubble-gum cards”—and academic career, from a GI Bill–funded teaching assistantship at Penn State in 1953, to being appointed professor emeritus there in 2000. Fellow scholars should especially appreciate reading how Weintraub balanced his research into Queen Victoria, James McNeill Whistler, and George Bernard Shaw, among others, with domestic life, raising three children (one of whom edited this book) with his wife, Rodelle, and also coauthoring six books with her. However, any reader with an appreciation for the historian’s craft would do well to find a place for this richly rewarding work on the shelf. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/11/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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