Father/Land : A Personal Search for the New Germany

3.76 (55 ratings by Goodreads)
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"A joy to read, in fact, a book so good one doesn't want it to end.... Kempe has written a piece of contemporary history as it should be written, in clear, engaging prose, and with judicious and sensible arguments. He has expertly handled the history of modern Germany, and given us insights into the German soul, including his own, that are crucial for an understanding of our modern world." --Kirkus Reviews"While Kempe does not sugarcoat Germany's current problems-its dyspeptic tolerance of immigrants, its pervasive bureaucracy and pedantry, the viciousness of the neo-Nazis-he argues that young Germans are right to no longer feel guilt for the Holocaust, as long as they learn its lessons." --Newsday"This is a fascinating and important book for anyone interested in the New and Old Germany. Fred Kempe turns in Father/Land to a different land-the mysteries and dark secrets of his German family that lay shrouded since the Third Reich. As painful as it is, this is a search that Kempe could no longer refuse if he was to bring some sense to his American character and German roots. As he interweaves his family's history with that of the German nation, his personal quest becomes a window not only into the German past but also into Germany's future." -Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Prize "Father/Land takes us on a spellbinding journey into Germany's past and present.... When Kempe finally discovers the horrific story that lies buried in his own family's history, the reader has the shock of experiencing the nightmare of Nazism from the inside." --David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post"From a skilled American reporter's search for his German ancestry emerges a rich and rewarding portrait of a nation moving toward a promising future even as it remains tied to an inescapable past." --Ronald Steel, author of Walter Lippmann and the American Century"No foreign correspondent knows Germany as well as Frederick Kempe." --Volker Ruhe, former defense minister of GermanyDuring a pilgrimage to Germany with his father, Fred Kempe promised him he would write about modern Germany. Twelve years later, as a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal Europe, Kempe began a long journey of exploration in an attempt to answer questions that haunted him about his father's land: "How could such an apparently good people with such a rich cultural history have done such evil things? What causes evil, and what breeds good? After only half a century of reeducation and reconstruction, could the strength of German democracy and liberalism be as great as it seemed?"Kempe delves into Germany's demographic change, its modern military, its youth, and America's role in the remaking of Germany after the war. He also looks at German pre-war history and how that history plays into shaping the future of the newly intact Germany. While searching modern Germany for the answers to his philosophical questions, Kempe finds himself in a parallel search for the roots of his own German heritage. Through seeking out relatives and searching documents that might enlighten him about the unspoken mysteries of his family's past, he discovers more than he bargained for, and at the same time learns a great deal about himself. The journey that began as the fulfillment of a promise to his father, led him as he had hoped, to a greater understanding his father's Heimat.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 154.4 x 228.1 x 19.6mm | 476.28g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 8 b&w photos
  • 0253215250
  • 9780253215253
  • 2,124,702

Review quote

"... must reading for anyone interested in the odyssey of German history and the search for a personal identity." -Jewish Book World "Kempe's insightful book is a sophisticated and sympathetic discussion of contemporary German identity from a consciously American perspective. -H-Net Reviews," -German, June 2003
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About Frederick Kempe

Frederick Kempe is editor and associate publisher of The Wall Street Journal Europe and the founding editor of Central European Economic Review. He was a foreign correspondent for Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal and covered Germany off and on for more than 20 years. He has also covered such stories as the rise of Solidarity in Poland, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the war in Afghanistan, the American invasion of Panama and the collapse of Soviet communism. His published books include: Divorcing the Dictator: America's Bungled Affair with Noriega and Siberian Odyssey: A Voyage into the Russian Soul. He lives in Brussels.
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Table of contents

Prologue: Father's LandOne: Hitler's OffspringTwo: Normal GermansThree: Family MattersFour: Forward MarchFive: The Kohl GenerationSix: Young DiplomatsSeven: Crime in the Family: Part 1Eight: Germans and JewsNine: The Turkish ChallengeTen: Crime in the Family: Part 2Eleven: America's StepchildEpilogue: Hitler's Offspring, America's Stepchild
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Rating details

55 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 13% (7)
4 58% (32)
3 22% (12)
2 7% (4)
1 0% (0)
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