Leon: A LIFE. The True Stories of Captain Leon H Schneider
Born in Brooklyn into a family of Jewish immigrants, Leon dropped out of high school and hitchhiked to Florida, the Catskills, and California. He joined the U.S. Merchant Marine and shipped out to Hawaii, almost missing the return trip just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Everything changed when Leon survived two deadly U-Boat torpedo attacks in the Caribbean. Inspired to become a ship's officer, he set out on a whirlwind of travel and adventure, with dalliances at every port: London during the Blitz. Postwar Germany, Italy, and Japan. An ill-fated affair in Buenos Aires. Encounters in the Philippines. A romance with a Yugoslavian ballet dancer.
When the 45-year-old Leon finally settles down with 26-year-old Tamara, the couple must find a way to support the family in a world that has no apparent place for a retired ship's captain with a colorful past.
Leon is a supremely gifted storyteller with an uncanny memory. He's been charming people for years, and now, for the first time, his stories are available in print.
These are Leon's shockingly funny, poignant, and unforgettable stories, as told to his son Ivan Schneider. Not just for the extended family, these are stories for the world, and for the ages.
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About the Author
"This is a wonderful book and a fun read! Leon has such a distinct voice and it feels so authentic, while at the same time having this quality of larger-than-life storytelling that made me think of the German term Seemannsgarn, or seaman's yarn, meaning that sailors spin stories that might be a bit exaggerated. And his wife, Tamara, sounds like a fierce pioneer in her own right. What a great job preserving these stories of such an adventurous life! There are some amazing lines that just made me stop to let them sink in, and some historical aspects that were so interesting to see through his eyes. And of course I laughed a lot!"
Dr. Joela Jacobs
University of Arizona
"LEON: A LIFE is really many lives packed into one freewheeling memoir the irrepressible Leon Schneider as everything from a busboy and a construction worker to a merchant marine and an actor--and always ready for another adventure. From running after nickels during the Depression to swimming away from U-Boats in World War II: it's all here and all told in a rapid-fire patter that gives us the essence of the man."
Creative Writing Program Director, Montclair State University.
Author of My Date with Neanderthal Woman
"LEON: A LIFE springs from a labor of love: Ivan Schneider, Leon's son, in collaboration with Tamara Schneider, Leon's wife, faithfully recorded the wealth of rollicking memoirs recounted by the 97-year-old Leon. It did not require cajoling: Leon's story bursts forth eagerly, with riveting humor, raunchy resilience and originality in the face of circumstances which might have easily defeated others. In addition, there is a nuanced implicit undercurrent of decrying the consequences of ethnic and economic discrimination. For the reader, the book is a treat, with much to admire and to enjoy."
Lora Heims Tessman
Author of The Analyst's Analyst Within and Children of Parting Parents