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 Liepman, a prominent European literary agent, recalls her turbulent Holocaust story and her career in this entry in Northwestern's ``Jewish Lives'' series. Born Ruth Lilienstein, the author grew up in a privileged Jewish family. Her father was a physician, the son of Orthodox parents who had rejected religion while closely embracing his Jewish identity. Ruth grew up as a smart, questioning young woman with a ``naive but powerful sense of justice.'' Fueled by her experiences at the excellent but unconventional Lichtwark School, that sense of justice became an understanding of the way the world mistreats some and pampers others. Inevitably, at 19, she joined the German Communist Party and became an active cadre. She took up the study of law as a way of sidestepping her father's expectation that she would join his medical practice, and excelled in that field. But her politics and her Jewishness marked her as an obvious early target of the Nazis. As German historian Inge Marssolek notes in the book's postscript, Lilienstein was one of the first lawyers dismissed by the Nazis on ``political and racial grounds.'' She fled to Amsterdam in 1934, acquired a neutral passport by marrying a sympathetic Swiss, and went to work for the Swiss consulate after the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, saving many Jews, until circumstance forced her to go underground herself. When the war ended, she returned to Germany, met and married Heinz Liepman, a writer, and eventually ended up running the literary agency that has represented such classics as The Naked and the Dead and Catcher in the Rye in their German markets. Liepman, now 87, tells this dazzling story of intrigue and danger in flat, conversational prose with the faint air of the tape recorder running through it.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 1998
ISBN: 0-8101-1294-9
Page count: 127pp
Publisher: Northwestern Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1997