Monday, October 23, 2017
Mark Mazower (Ira D. Wallach Professor of World Order Studies and Director of the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination) has just published a family memoir, What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home (Other Press, 2017).
From the review in the Guardian:
There is a level of secrecy within families that is sometimes hard for outsiders to comprehend. Max Mazower, grandfather of the author, never told his much loved wife Frouma, to whom he was married for many years, the name of his mother. This was, in a way, the least of it. Nor did he talk about his long and active past as a revolutionary socialist in tsarist Russia. Memory and secrets, how they are buried and how they can be unearthed, lie at the heart of Mark Mazower’s fascinating and scholarly reconstruction of a family’s life and the myriad relations, friends, acquaintances, places, houses and adventures that spin out from it.
Mazower is a distinguished historian of 20th-century Europe and he brings to his digging the doggedness and meticulousness of the obsessive researcher. There are few archives or collections of papers relevant to his subject that he does not appear to have consulted, whether in the US, the UK, Russia, Belgium or Israel. To these he has added a diary kept by his father between 1941 and 1996, the many letters preserved by his mother during the years when letters were the only way to keep in touch with people across the eastern bloc, and the family stories he prodded out of his father not long before his death. He was a man, Mazower writes, who “shied away from the personal like a nervous horse”. All this evidence put together offers not simply a biographical narrative, but, woven into it, a vast and rich picture of leftwing European Jewry throughout the 20th century.