224 pages, 3.56 × 2.6 × 0.55 in
March 17, 2005
Farrar Straus & Giroux
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0374225907
ISBN - 13: 9780374225902
About the Book
Lelyveld's effort 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.
From the Publisher
The profoundly moving family history of one of America's greatest newspapermen.
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 poignancy.
About the Author
Joseph Lelyveld is executive editor of The New York Times.
"At once controlled and absolutely direct, an astonishing journal of personal discovery that explores--at the exact place where the two intersect--both a powerfully affecting family history and a political history of the most complex kind." --Joan Didion
"Joseph Lelyveld has told a fascinating story--the story of his youth and of his parents' tormented marriage--with an unflinching and very touching honesty that makes this memoir riveting and poignant." --Robert Caro
""Omaha Blues" is a beauty of a memoir--scrupulous, and beautifully written." --Ward Just
"In this compact and gracefully written memoir, Joe Lelyveld interrogates the adult mysteries and evasions that circumstanced his young life. His treatment of the effects of passionate political allegiances on personal relationships goes deep. The revised portraits he arrives at, of others and himself, are acute but forgiving. Omaha Blues is a triumph of retrospection. The book will be a classic." --Norman Rush