Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 226 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade.
From the Publisher
The profoundly moving family history of one of America''s greatest
As his father lies dying, Joseph Lelyveld finds himself in the
basement of the Cleveland synagogue where Arthur Lelyveld was the
celebrated rabbi. Nicknamed "the memory boy" by his parents, the
fifty-nine-year-old son begins to revisit the portion of his
father''s life recorded in letters, newspaper clippings, and
mementos stored in a dusty camp trunk. In an excursion into an
unsettled and shakily recalled period of his boyhood, Lelyveld uses
these artifacts, and the journalistic reporting techniques of his
career as an author and editor, to investigate memories that have
haunted him in adult life..
With equal measures of candor and tenderness, Lelyveld unravels the
tangled story of his father and his mother, a Shakespeare scholar
whose passion for independence led her to recoil from her roles as
a clergyman''s wife and, for a time, as a mother. This reacquired
history of his sometimes troubled family becomes the framework for
the author''s story; in particular, his discovery in early
adolescence of the way personal emotions cue political choices,
when he is forced to choose sides between his father and his own
closest adult friend, a colleague of his father''s who is suddenly
dismissed for concealing Communist ties.
Lelyveld''s offort to recapture his family history takes him on an
unforeseen journey past disparate landmarks of the last century,
including the Scottsboro trials, the Zionist movement, the
Hollywood blacklist, McCarthyism, and Mississippi''s "freedom
summer" of 1964. His excursion becomes both a meditation on the
selectivity and unreliability of memory and a testimony to
thepossibilities, even late in life, for understanding and healing.
As Lelyveld seeks out the truth of his life story, he evokes a
remarkable moment in our national story with unforgettable