FATHER/LAND by Frederick Kempe


A Personal Search for the New Germany
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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.

Pub Date: May 10th, 1999
ISBN: 0-399-14497-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1999


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