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This is a memoir about the power of American assimilation and opportunity in the face of persisting refugee realities. Like Isaac Bashevis Singer, Monroe Price recounts the continuing impact of European identities as families, cast from their homes by the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, struggle to find their way in a new and challenging environment.
In a series of reflections, Price, who was born to a Jewish family in Vienna in 1938 and left when he was seven months old, seeks to create the Vienna of his infancy, including Jewish life, anti-Semitism, the Anschluss, and Kristallnacht (during which his father was arrested). He shifts to scenes of American socialization in the places he moved with his parents: Macon, Georgia, Cincinnati, Ohio, and the experience of New York City. Through these reflections, Price illuminates ideas about family, religion, friends and schooling as well as deeply personal issues such as home, food and intimacy.
Price’s memoir weaves complicated strands—his Viennese origins, campaigns to distribute Jewish refugees away from New York City, the special qualities of Midwestern Ohio life in the 1950s—and the contrasting patterns of adjustment by different generations in his family in the American landscape. As he traces the particular path of his own life, Price reveals a more universal story of adjustment, and the relationship between a marginal community and the drama of American citizenship.
An intimate and provocative meditation on Jewish life between the old and the new world.
Bernhard Schlink, German jurist and writer, author of The Reader
Monroe Price has written a truly powerful book. At
once deeply personal and far-reaching, it illuminates the experience of exile
and displacement with rare immediacy. A tribute to individual and cultural
endurance, we glimpse the unique patterns of the Austrian-Jewish diaspora and
are reminded of what could and should have been.
Matti Bunzl, anthropologist and chronicler of Viennese modernity
Monroe Price’s Bildungsroman is lively
and entertaining, at times as fast-paced as a Michael Crichton thriller and as
cogently argued throughout as a New York Times op-ed piece. Born in Vienna
shortly after the Anschluss, he was brought in his swaddling clothes to the
United States where he has lived a relatively placid life filled with
achievements as a lawyer and as an academic. While neither a refugee nor a
Holocaust survivor, he inherited his mother’s devotion to the culture of Central
European Judentum and the fulcrum of his “legal personality” is from Emperor
Franz Josef ’s Rechsstaat. He has no personal memories of his colorful forebears
such as Uncle Emil, “the well-known fiaker driver” in Vienna, yet he brings them
alive in his memoir. From his frequent travels in Europe “foraging for truths,”
he has learned that memories may be destructive as well as inventive. He writes
that he feels more at home in a rice field in Thailand than in Vienna. Yet
taking advantage of a new law, in 1997 he acquired Austrian citizenship, a step
he finds hard to explain.
Charles Fenyvesi, journalist and author, “When Angels Fooled the World: Rescuers of Jews in Wartime Hungary"
Monroe E. Price is Director of Center for Global Communication Studies, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, and Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University. He founded the Center for Media and Communications Studies at Central European University. After an undergraduate and law degree at Yale University, Price clerked for Associate Justice Potter Stewart of the United States Supreme Court and then Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz.
210 pages, includes black-and-white photos
ISBN 978-963-9776-52-4 cloth $29.95 T / €21.95 / £19.95
Published together with the Center for Media and Communication Studies (CMCS), distributed by CEU Press.