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Finding My Father: His Century-Long Journey from World War I Warsaw and My Quest to Follow

Finding My Father: His Century-Long Journey from World War I Warsaw and My Quest to Follow

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Hardback

Long before she was the acclaimed author of a groundbreaking book about women and men, praised by Oliver Sacks for having “a novelist’s ear for the way people speak,” Deborah Tannen was a girl who adored her father. Though he was often absent during her childhood, she was profoundly influenced by his gift for writing and storytelling. As she grew up and he grew older, she spent countless hours recording conversations with her father for the account of his life she had promised him she’d write. But when he hands Tannen journals he kept in his youth, and she discovers letters he saved from a woman he might have married instead of her mother, she is forced to rethink her assumptions about her father’s life and her parents’ marriage.

In this memoir, Tannen embarks on the poignant, yet perilous, quest to piece together the puzzle of her father’s life. Beginning with his astonishingly vivid memories of the Hasidic community in Warsaw, where he was born in 1908, she traces his journey: from arriving in New York City in 1920 to quitting high school at fourteen to support his mother and sister, through a vast array of jobs, including prison guard and gun-toting alcohol tax inspector, to eventually establishing the largest workers’ compensation law practice in New York and running for Congress. As Tannen comes to better understand her father’s—and her own—relationship to Judaism, she uncovers aspects of his life she would never have imagined.

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