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A Political Education: Coming of Age in Paris and New York

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“Schiffrin evokes the bittersweet tang of émigré life in New York.” —The New York Times Book Review André Schiffrin was born the son of one of France’s most esteemed publishers, in a world peopled by some of the day’s leading writers and intellectuals, such as André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. But this world was torn apart when the Nazis marched i “Schiffrin evokes the bittersweet tang of émigré life in New York.” —The New York Times Book Review André Schiffrin was born the son of one of France’s most esteemed publishers, in a world peopled by some of the day’s leading writers and intellectuals, such as André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. But this world was torn apart when the Nazis marched into Paris on young André’s fifth birthday. Beginning with the family’s dramatic escape to Casablanca—thanks to the help of the legendary Varian Fry—and eventually New York, A Political Education recounts the surprising twists and turns of a life that saw Schiffrin become, himself, one of the world’s most respected publishers. Emerging from the émigré community of wartime New York (a community that included his father’s friends Hannah Arendt and Helen and Kurt Wolff), he would go on to develop an insatiable appetite for literature and politics: heading a national student group he renamed the Students for a Democratic Society—the SDS . . . leading student groups at European conferences, once, as an unwitting front man for the CIA . . . and eventually being appointed by Random House chief Bennett Cerf to head the very imprint cofounded by his father—Pantheon. There, he would discover and publish some of the world’s leading writers, including Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault, Art Spiegelman, Studs Terkel, and Marguerite Duras. But in a move that would make headlines, Schiffrin would ultimately rebel at corporate ownership and form his own publishing house—The New Press—where he would go on to set a new standard for independent publishing. A Political Education is a fascinating intellectual memoir that tells not only the story of a unique and important figure, but of the tumultuous political times that shaped him.


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“Schiffrin evokes the bittersweet tang of émigré life in New York.” —The New York Times Book Review André Schiffrin was born the son of one of France’s most esteemed publishers, in a world peopled by some of the day’s leading writers and intellectuals, such as André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. But this world was torn apart when the Nazis marched i “Schiffrin evokes the bittersweet tang of émigré life in New York.” —The New York Times Book Review André Schiffrin was born the son of one of France’s most esteemed publishers, in a world peopled by some of the day’s leading writers and intellectuals, such as André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. But this world was torn apart when the Nazis marched into Paris on young André’s fifth birthday. Beginning with the family’s dramatic escape to Casablanca—thanks to the help of the legendary Varian Fry—and eventually New York, A Political Education recounts the surprising twists and turns of a life that saw Schiffrin become, himself, one of the world’s most respected publishers. Emerging from the émigré community of wartime New York (a community that included his father’s friends Hannah Arendt and Helen and Kurt Wolff), he would go on to develop an insatiable appetite for literature and politics: heading a national student group he renamed the Students for a Democratic Society—the SDS . . . leading student groups at European conferences, once, as an unwitting front man for the CIA . . . and eventually being appointed by Random House chief Bennett Cerf to head the very imprint cofounded by his father—Pantheon. There, he would discover and publish some of the world’s leading writers, including Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault, Art Spiegelman, Studs Terkel, and Marguerite Duras. But in a move that would make headlines, Schiffrin would ultimately rebel at corporate ownership and form his own publishing house—The New Press—where he would go on to set a new standard for independent publishing. A Political Education is a fascinating intellectual memoir that tells not only the story of a unique and important figure, but of the tumultuous political times that shaped him.

30 review for A Political Education: Coming of Age in Paris and New York

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melville House Publishing

    “A beautifully written and melancholy update, if you will, of Democracy in America by the Frenchman de Tocqueville, this book also written by a man born in France, but one who has spent most of his life in America, most famously as a publiser of books in support of peace and we the people.” -- KURT VONNEGUT “Schiffrin’s memoir is a master class in living, learning and writing. Sign up now for a fabulous experience.” -- BILL MOYERS “This remarkable work is more than a flesh-and-blood tale of growin “A beautifully written and melancholy update, if you will, of Democracy in America by the Frenchman de Tocqueville, this book also written by a man born in France, but one who has spent most of his life in America, most famously as a publiser of books in support of peace and we the people.” -- KURT VONNEGUT “Schiffrin’s memoir is a master class in living, learning and writing. Sign up now for a fabulous experience.” -- BILL MOYERS “This remarkable work is more than a flesh-and-blood tale of growing up. It is the stunning and revelatory road map of a a seeker. It is an autobiography of ideas.” -- STUDS TERKEL

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Here's hoping that André Schiffrin will write about France/French media as he proposes at the end of this book. I would like to hear about capitalism sauvage and further parallels between French and American publishing. I enjoyed The Business of Books: How the International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read so much and this book so much that I would gladly read anything else Schiffrin might write. Read both of his books if you have any interest in publishing, media, Here's hoping that André Schiffrin will write about France/French media as he proposes at the end of this book. I would like to hear about capitalism sauvage and further parallels between French and American publishing. I enjoyed The Business of Books: How the International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read so much and this book so much that I would gladly read anything else Schiffrin might write. Read both of his books if you have any interest in publishing, media, or fascinating people.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I wanted to like this book. The subject matter (both in terms of the publishing industry and the timeframe) is interesting to me. Sadly, the book was not. I did not find the writing style engaging. Things that should have been more interesting (the CIA's organization and use of student groups, for example) were not compelling. I still admire Shiffrin's courage in the publishing choices he has made.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chasc

    Un privilégié. Je devrais recopier 2-3 citations (// Vme arrondissement de Paris, les luttes noires/féministes vs gauchistes des 60s-70s)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chad Felix

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mattea

  7. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ivar Bakke

  9. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

  10. 5 out of 5

    TheKing161

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mathieu

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Levine

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gemma

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  16. 5 out of 5

    B. E. Hopkins

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  18. 5 out of 5

    Theut

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marco Pizio

  20. 4 out of 5

    Portia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Serena Gobbo

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hugo Xavier

  23. 4 out of 5

    gwen B

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nacho Mg

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nesi Altaras

  26. 4 out of 5

    Geoffrey Kabaservice

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

  28. 5 out of 5

    Frances

  29. 5 out of 5

    Raluca

  30. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Cowan

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