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Accomplished businessman Richard J. Franke offers in Cut from Whole Cloth an intimate account of the American immigrant experience, recounting the moving story of his grandparents' struggle to build a new life in turn-of-the-century America. Franke draws on extensive primary sources to create an engrossing narrative of his Catholic grandfather and Lutheran grandmother as they flee religious intolerance and economic adversity in Germany and immigrate to America in 1884. They settle in Springfield, Illinois, where they start a family and business and live out the American dream--with its attendant perils and promises--as their business evolves from a tailor's shop to a modern, thriving dry cleaner. Their story is one of strife, frustration, and success. Franke chronicles how they struggle to raise a family in a foreign culture with radically different values, as the old world morals that fuel their prosperity give rise to ancient family tensions that haunt each new generation. By turns charming, wrenching, and poetic, Cut from Whole Cloth is an intensely personal yet timeless tale that will appeal to nearly every descendant of immigrants.
Richard J. Franke is chairman emeritus and former CEO of the investment banking firm John Nuveen and Co. He founded the Chicago Humanities Festival and became a national spokesman for the humanities. He has served as a senior fellow of the Yale Corporation and is a life trustee of the University of Chicago.