Arts & Leisure

Book review: Endpapers: A family story of books, war, escape, and home — by Alexander Wolff

(Atlantic Monthly Press)
“Endpapers,” a historical and literary narrative/memoir, written by Cornwall-based journalist Alexander Wolff, opens with an illustrated family tree and contains a liberally-distributed trove of family and archival photographs, but that is just the beginning. In order to deeply investigate this story — of his exiled German grandfather, Kurt Wolff, an influential book publisher, and his father, Niko Wolff, a Wehrmacht soldier who emigrated to the United States — Wolff uprooted his family and moved them to Berlin for over a year to avail himself of all the research tools available to him, delving into personal correspondence as well as unpublished private papers. Much of the Wolff literary history has never before been published. Driven in part by his lack of active questioning of his father while he was still alive, Wolff rigorously plunges headfirst into uncomfortable truths, “skeptical of any story that casts some relative in a virtuous light. ” Knowing several ancestors, but perhaps not all, bucked the Nazis increases the story’s ramifications, even before it’s revealed that Merck pharmaceutical, and the role they may have played in WWII, is also a part of Wolff’s legacy. Startling historical revelations with deeply personal insights combine to make this book riveting and informative. 
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
Editor’s Note: Signed and personalized copies available at the Vermont Book Shop.
 

13 Books from “Endpaper’s” Bibliography 
Blitzed, by Norman Ohler
Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder
Transit, by Anna Seghers
Jigsaw, by Sybille Bedford
Family Lexicon, by Natalia Ginzburg
The Tin Drum, by Günter Grass
Ravensbrück, by Sarah Helm
Belonging, by Nora Krug
You Can’t Go Home Again, by Thomas Wolfe
Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak
The Flight Portfolio, by Julie Orringer
The Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott
Berlin Stories, by Robert Walser

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