by Alexander Münninghoff, translated by Kristen Gehrman
Amazon Crossing, 293 p., Aug 1, 2020
Original title: De stamhouder: een familiekroniek, Prometheus
A prize-winning Dutch journalist’s unsparing memoir of growing up amid the excesses, triumphs, and devastation of post–World War II Europe.
What can a son say upon discovering that his father wore a Nazi uniform? Reporter Alexander Münninghoff was only four when he found this mortifying relic from his father’s recent past in his attic. This shameful memento came to symbolize not only his father’s tragically misguided allegiance but also a shattered marriage and ultimately the unconscionable separation of a mother and son.
In this revelatory memoir, the author confronts his parents’ complex past as he reconstructs the fortunes and disillusions of an entire family upheaved during the changes of twentieth-century Europe. The Münninghoffs were driven by greed, rebellion, and rage. An embattled dynasty, they were torn between the right and the wrong side of history. Their saga haunted Alexander’s life for the next seventy years.
Only in reconciling with them can this man find the courage to move forward as son and heir to the startling legacy of a flawed yet grand tradition.
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