A fourth-generation Morgenthau pens a lively and engaging biography of his family of high achievers, overlaid with a fresh view of changing Jewish acculturation during the past two American centuries. The first Morgenthau of record, Moses, was required to take a family name when the Jews of Bavaria were granted citizenship in 1813. Waiting in line at city hall in the predawn, he looked at the damp ground and decided to call himself Morgen Tau (``morning dew'' in German). His son, Lazarus, after an apprenticeship as a tailor, rose from poverty by selling cravats, and to wealth by manufacturing fine cigars. His entrepreneurship carried into making nicotine-free cigars, candy from pine needles, tongue scrapers, and gum-label machines. A multimillionaire, he emigrated to Brooklyn with his ten children and plunged into an extraordinary network of German Jewish families—Strausses, Sulzbergers, Guggenheims, Schlesingers. His son, Henry, retired from a successful business career at age 50 to enter public life. Woodrow Wilson appointed him ambassador to Turkey, a position considered a crucial Jewish outpost since Palestine was then under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. From letters and family stories, the author assembles a gripping and tragic account of the 1915 Armenian massacre; Henry's grandfather attempted to get the US government to intervene and offered personally to donate $1 million to the Turkish government to fund an Armenian exodus, all to no avail. (The author's cousin, Barbara Tuchman, drew upon family memories of this period in writing The Guns of August.) Thirty years later, during WW II, the author's father, Henry, Jr.—FDR's secretary of the treasury—presented a scathing report to the President on the ``Acquiescence of the Government to the Murder of the Jews'' with equal lack of effect. Personal history that opens to a larger cultural and political account of the 20th century: fluent and passionately humane. (Thirty-two pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-89919-976-3

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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