Books by Frederick Kempe

Released: May 10, 2011

"A bit too long, but good journalistic history in the tradition of William L. Shirer and Barbara Tuchman."
A tale of missed opportunities just might have ended in nuclear war. Read full book review >
Released: May 10, 1999

A joy to read, in fact, a book so good one doesn—t want it to end. Kempe, editor and associate publisher of the Wall Street Journal Europe (Siberian Odyssey: A Voyage into the Russian Soul, 1992), has written an engrossing account of the new Germany of the 1990s while delving deeply into his own German-American history, a history in which he discovers some disturbing evidence that his family, like so many others in Germany, is tainted by its Nazi connections. The account that ensues includes fascinating portrayals of casual acquaintances and intimate friends Kempe has made through years of working as a foreign correspondent. It's through interviews with these associates that Kempe explores to what degree Germans are different today than before their historic reunification. Through that significant event, as well as the NATO dispatch of German soldiers to Bosnia and Germany's support for the euro, Kempe tries to answer questions of Germany's normality, and how Germans live on a daily basis with the burden of their Holocaust-laden history. He shows in detail how Jews have come back to Germany over the years. He also addresses how Turks, the largest minority in Germany, struggle with acceptance in a land of opportunity and promise that is at times also a land of bigotry and violence. The questions of Germany's role in the new Europe, as an economic powerhouse in the global economy, and as a bulwark of democracy, are deftly handled. For Kempe, the links to America are crucial to Germany's continuance on the road to normality. Kempe has written a piece of contemporary history as it should be written, in clear, engaging prose, and with judicious and sensible arguments. He has expertly handled the history of modern Germany, and given us insights into the German soul, including his own, that are crucial for an understanding of our modern world. Read full book review >
Released: July 17, 1992

A venture down the Ob River and into the heart of Siberia by Wall Street Journal Berlin bureau chief Kempe, who offers telling vignettes of a region now in flux but once as notorious for its climate as for its infamous history. Over five weeks in the summer of 1991, Kempe was part of a Russian-European expedition—which included Greenpeace scientists monitoring environmental damage as well as a member of the Supreme Soviet—that followed the course of the Ob, which rises near Mongolia and then flows north to its mouth, beyond the Arctic Circle. Though the expedition used a specially chartered boat, Kempe and his companions also made side trips by helicopter and train to visit local landmarks. The journey began in Kemerova, heart of the Siberian coal-mining and industrial region; continued on to Kolpashevo, grisly riverbank site of one of Stalinism's mass graves; and ended with a journey by train to Vorkhuta, once a notorious gulag in a region home to most of Russia's nuclear program. Kempe was the first American allowed into Tomsk 7, a planned town run entirely by the defense ministry; he also visited oil-drilling sites and spoke with native reindeer-herders. Everywhere, he and the accompanying scientists heard alarming stories of environmental damage and saw examples for themselves. In most places, local water is so contaminated as to be undrinkable, and widespread destruction of the fragile tundra threatens to become more significant than that of the rain forests. Along the way, Kempe talked to a variety of people, including a former prisoner who claimed to have tried to assassinate Stalin, and the son of a native people's shaman. Despite intermittent observations on the Siberian tendency to hold fate responsible for everything, more an anecdotal than analytical account of a place ``that has always been more a warning than a region.'' Timely. Read full book review >