What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home
Max Mazower, an active Bundist socialist as the Russian Revolution approached, moved to London, married, and raised a family, worked in postal censorship through World War 2 and never hinted at his earlier identity. His grandson, author of What You Did Not Tell, knew nothing of the story nor enquired about his father’s earlier years, despite knowing he spoke fluent Russian, until he found and read a half-century’s worth of his pocket diaries. As a historian in the United States, Mark Mazower allows the distance to bring him closer to his family’s past, to meet numerous relatives, sometimes only vicariously, some of whom are still in countries enjoying less freedom and some of whom are long-ago friends, surviving only in name.
Remaining Jewish (with a very few rebellious exceptions) and usually observant of traditions while rarely formally involved in a congregational setting, Mazower writes, “I think we always felt fortunate that our sense of our family background was not defined by the Holocaust, not bound up with the kind of obsessed fascination with the death camps that was fast becoming part of public culture on both sides of the Atlantic.”
This is a remarkable memoir gracefully and lovingly written, depicting the historical revelations about a family of mixed fortunes and honoring the memory of Frouma, Max’s wife, serene and accepting. Never sentimental, nonetheless deeply moving, the book invites one to meet the Russian émigré population of North London, a virtually forgotten world now replaced by its acceptance into the fabric of British life.
|Page Count||336 pages|
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|Category||Biographies & Memoirs|