A renowned historian tells of his youth as an assimilated, antireligious Jew in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1939--"the story", he says, "of a poisoning and how I dealt with it". With customary eloquence and analytic acumen, Gay describes his family, the life they led, and explores his own ambivalent feelings--then and now--toward Germany and the ...
A renowned historian tells of his youth as an assimilated, antireligious Jew in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1939--"the story", he says, "of a poisoning and how I dealt with it". With customary eloquence and analytic acumen, Gay describes his family, the life they led, and explores his own ambivalent feelings--then and now--toward Germany and the Germans. 50 illustrations.
A well written and intersting account of growing up a Jewish in Nazi Germany . However, for an expert on Freud, Peter Gay lacks insight into himself and the disdain he feels toward other Jews. Reading this made me uncomfortable as I found his arrogance overwhelmed the poignancy of many of his experiences.
Publishers Weekly, 1998-08-10 Gay is best known for his painstakingly researched series on the Enlightenment and, more recently, on The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud. In this memoir of his early life, particularly of the years between Hitler's chancellorship in 1933 and Gay's eventual escape in 1939, one can almost see the evolution of his obsessive concentration in the intense devotion to stamp collecting and sports that helped him block out the increasing din of Nazi racism. But this is not only a memoir, it's also a fierce reply to those who criticized German-Jewish assimilation and the tardiness of many families in leaving Germany. "We were not so stupid, not so deluded, certainly not so treacherous as we have been judged to be." In responding to these often facile charges, Gay is defending his beloved father, who through persistence and risky subterfuges managed to get his son and consumptive wife out of the country. In one episode, he recalls his father desperately doctoring a family certificate: "I can still see him at work committing this crime: using a straight razor, he gently scratched away at the ink, with St. Louis and May 13 growing paler and paler." This smart, funny, personable and resourceful man never adapted to his new life and died prematurely in 1955. Gay does not apologize for his father or other German-Jews, but rather offers an explanation of the mixed signals and the difficulty of escape. Or if it's an apology, it is, as he says "an unapologetic apology." (Oct.)
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