Endpapers: A Family Story of Books, War, Escape, and Home


Product Details

$28.00  $26.04
Atlantic Monthly Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.2 X 1.6 inches | 1.45 pounds

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About the Author

ALEXANDER WOLFF spent thirty-six years on staff at Sports Illustrated. He is author or editor of nine books, including the New York Times bestseller Raw Recruits and Big Game, Small World, which was named a New York Times Notable Book. A former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton, he lives with his family in Vermont.


Praise for Endpapers

"An event-filled biography and, along the way, a captivating case study in the challenges faced by refugees attempting to remake a life . . . Part of Mr. Wolff's chronicle has to do with the family lineage of which he is a part, not least the experience of his own father, Kurt's son Niko . . . Not content with registering the tectonic shifts of the times, [Kurt] Wolff brought about convulsions of his own, shaking up the American postwar literary scene. His grandson's book, as enlightening as it is engaging, measures the effects."--Benjamin Balint, Wall Street Journal

"Wolff explores the lives and history of his father and great-grandfather, the distinguished founder of Pantheon Books. As books were being burned and banned by the Nazis, Kurt Wolff escaped from Germany and ended up in New York, by way of France, where he began the still-flourishing publishing house. Drawing upon extensive family documents, Endpapers is as riveting as the fiction the Wolffs themselves have published, and deeply affecting."--Newsweek

"Alexander Wolff is keen, after a generation of silence, to follow the untold stories wherever they might lead."--Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine

"Wolff delivers a poignant portrait of his grandfather, Pantheon Books founder Kurt Wolff, and his own father, Niko Wolff . . . Wolff skillfully contextualizes his father and grandfather's tales with military and political history . . . History buffs and literary enthusiasts will be rewarded."--Publishers Weekly

"The descendent of a prominent publisher who fled the Nazis and a Wehrmacht soldier who didn't investigates his family's history and discovers a tapestry of exile and complicity . . . Wolff reveals a broader fascination with the relationship between historical events and personal trajectories and concern that the charged environment that defined Kurt's and Niko's choices is being replicated in the U.S. today."--Booklist

"The author delves deeply into his ancestry to unravel the complex stories of his multigenerational family, and to show how his father's and grandfather's traumatic lives affected him . . . Will grasp the attention of readers interested in the Holocaust and modern German history."--Library Journal

"A powerfully told story of family, honor, love, and truth, by a masterful writer who sees across the oceans, through the generations, and beyond our immediate politics to share with us what is timeless and true in the immigrant's journey. In Endpapers we see the Wolff family through war and love, detention camps and immigration hearings, feast and famine, kindness and betrayal, occupying a world equal parts Casablanca and Kafka. This engrossing and entertaining book takes us across the Atlantic and through the last century to reckon with the full, true story of a shared family past. It is a powerful book of conscience, of remembrance, of love and loss and new beginnings that never quite lose hold of the past. In a powerful and personal way this book reminds us that we are all connected. Endpapers tells the beautiful truth that so often those who contribute most to the culture and civic life of a place are the outcast and the refugee. It is a personal invocation of the power of citizenship, of what happens to a civilization when we fail our civic purpose and what becomes possible when we rise to it. The beautiful and haunting stories told in this book transcend policy and politics. An amazing and timely book, which is also a joy to read."--Former U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke of Texas

"No serious reader will be less than wowed by Alexander Wolff's Endpapers. The author, constructing a fascinating story of family, comes to grips with three different lives: his grandfather's, publisher Kurt Wolff; Niko's, a reluctant soldier in WWII; and Wolff's own, interwoven with the others. Endpapers is a personal history that serves the public well."--Laura Claridge, author of The Lady with the Borzoi

"Alexander Wolff--a writer of superb grace--traces a complex and compelling family history. His grandfather, the famous Kurt Wolff, was among the cultural titans of Germany in the early twentieth century, publishing the likes of Kafka, Joseph Roth, Karl Kraus and Heinrich Mann before moving, ultimately, to New York, where he established another major press. His own father (despite his Jewish roots) served in Hitler's army before immigrating to the States. Determined to excavate his family's often elusive past, Wolff moved to Berlin for a year with his wife and children. The result is this deeply absorbing narrative of high culture under threat, of political and moral violence, and the deep wish for what Wolff refers to as Heimkehr or 'homecoming.' Endpapers held me in its spell for days."--Jay Parini, author of Borges and Me: An Encounter

"A stunning and brave book, deep and absorbing. I was enraptured by the story of Kurt, Niko, and Alex as they moved through the crosswinds of the twentieth century, from Munich to Princeton, and into the modern world."--David Maraniss, author of A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father

"Thomas Mann and Bertolt Brecht, the two greatest émigré writers, both fled America. So did the greatest of émigré publishers, Kurt Wolff, universally regarded as the class act of his industry. In a compelling, frequently thrilling, and--if you have an ear for the biting tone of Hitler's exiles--often hilarious book, Alexander Wolff combines biography, memoir, and cultural history, rendering them indivisible, and making clear the uncanny and terrifying parallels between Kurt Wolff's day and ours."--Anthony Heilbut, author of Exiled in Paradise and Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature

"Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Endpapers, at its heart, is an absorbing family history. But it is so much more than that, it is a haunting exploration of guilt and responsibility, of roots and new beginnings. Filled with stunning literary details that any bibliophile will cherish, this is an intimate and complex portrait of a remarkable family that also tells a wider story of Europe and America in the twentieth century. Endpapers is a treasure--a brave and moving book."--Ariana Neumann, author of When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains

"Remarkable lives in extraordinary times--a gripping and exceptional literary journey."--Philippe Sands, author of The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive

"An astonishing, compelling, confronting story of a divided family, reaching sharply into the present."--Tim Bonyhady, author of Good Living Street: Portrait of a Patron Family, Vienna 1900

Praise for Alexander Wolff:

"A highly informed and fascinating look at the intersection of sports and politics that led me to unexpected realizations about Obama, the presidency, and the world of basketball. Smart and fun."--Gerald Early, Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters, Washington University in St. Louis, on The Audacity of Hoop

"In a class by itself."--Huffington Post, on The Audacity of Hoop

"Wolff's knack for finding fascinating people to interview goes far in humanizing basketball in a global context."--Library Journal, on Big Game, Small World