EAGLE AND STORK by Stoyan Christowe


Email this review


In 1911, from his native village in Macedonia, Christowe emigrated to America. He was young--thirteen--and impressionable, he'd heard tell of the ""marvels"" there, and, like others before him and since, was frankly ""motivated by the opportunity to earn."" The first third of this autobiography is a scattered account of life in the ""old country."" Then there's a second book, mostly about himself in America, one no less sentimental but with a good deal more shape. He's a serious and determined young man, one of the upward mobile who moves from the ""dull, sweaty, and stultifying"" work of roundhouses and carshops to fancy work as a busboy in one of St. Louis' best restaurants. He tells you that his young body became ""possessed of a passionate yearning to be absorbed by America,"" and he longed ""like a youth in love, to lay his head on her breast. . . ."" He teaches himself English and studies long into the night, always striving to get closer to America. He leaves St. Louis after a few years to work on the Great Northern. There life is better; and he tells what seems to be an accurate--if simplified--version of working on the railroad, of the sometimes hard but basically rewarding life on the plains. The struggles and the pain of it all are touched on, briefly noted, but they are not his concern; his ambition is to become that ""fully realized American,"" and his book is presumably a testimony to how it's done. Fifty years later he had become the venerable ex-Senator from Vermont. Simple, nostalgic immigrant recollections--excessive for some.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1975
Publisher: Harper's Magazine Press