In this brief memoir, a man recounts his experiences as a researcher, a member of the British Parliament, and a Jew.
Moonman’s (Learning to Live in the Violent Society, 2005, etc.) father, Borach, was born in 1878 in Berdichev, Russia, a small city not far from Odessa. In response to a lack of opportunity and burgeoning anti-Semitism, he moved to Liverpool, where he started a milk distribution business. The author was Borach’s ninth child after eight girls were born, and was a precocious lover of cinema and football. His family left Liverpool in 1940 to escape the devastating German bombing campaigns, a move that effectively forced Moonman’s father into retirement. When still only 13 years old, the author left school—he needed permission from the local labor exchange because he was so young—to begin work for a local newspaper in Liverpool. He subsequently gained an apprenticeship with a printing firm. Meanwhile, he studied economics at Liverpool College of Commerce—later he became a full-time student at the University of Liverpool—and founded the first Guild of Young Printers, which was sponsored by the Typographical Association. After working at the British Institute of Management, he won a seat in Parliament representing Basildon in Essex. Moonman meticulously remembers his work as an MP—he served more than once—in particular his devotion to public health, the fight against racism, and human rights. He also discusses in vivid detail his visit to Greece to provide humanitarian aid after it was stricken by an earthquake in 1953, and a trip to Namibia at the behest of the International Red Cross to help draft a socio-economic plan for the nation. Moonman writes in clear, if sometimes clunky, prose, and his remembrances of political maneuvering can be needlessly microscopic. But his life is truly memorable, and his interests are as diverse as they are energetically pursued. The most thoughtful discussions are about his experiences as a Jew frequently encountering prejudice, and his philosophical commitments to both Zionism and socialism. For those interested in the inner workings of public service in England, this is an insightful treatment.
An intelligent recollection of a life devoted to politics and the public welfare.