“My father was born into war,” begins this remarkable saga in Alisse Waterston’s intimate ethnography, a story that is also twentieth century social history. This is an anthropologist’s vivid account of her father’s journey across continents, countries, cultures, languages, generations—and wars. It is a daughter’s moving portrait of a charming, funny, wounded, and difficult man, his relationships with those he loved, and his most sacred of beliefs. And it is a scholar’s reflection on the dramatic forces of history, the experience of exile and immigration, the legacies of culture, and the enduring power of memory.
“In this book, I start with the personal for clues to broader histories. The narrative is largely based on my father’s narrative of his life history—his actual words, and the texture of his voice. I was lucky to have many rich and multiple sources—passports, letters, old tapes and new, books, memories, and my mother’s unpublished memoir. I worked with what remained—pulling material apart, rearranging, preserving, even tearing in some places—to tell a story and a history that are at once separate and together.” — Alisse Waterston
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