Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son

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9780140096101: Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son

"An extraordinarily moving portrait of the complexities and confusions of familial love". -- The New York Times

"His story is fascinating, and the portrait of lost childhood offered here evokes one of the archetypal dreams of the American mind". -- E. L. Doctorow

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Review:

"Adam Hochschild . . . knows well that the past lives on within us, unshakeable, in our dreams as well as in our waking life. With skill and knowledge, he charts his father's strange but liberating transformation in character after his wife's death. The stories he tells are in themselves remarkable, but his telling makes them doubly so." -- Newsday, July 6, 1986

"By turns nostalgic and regretful, lyrical and melancholy, HALF THE WAY HOME creates a deeply felt portrait of a man and a boy . . . it also provides an extraordinarily moving portrait of the complexities and confusions of familial love. While it pushes the reader into memories of his own experiences in that eternal, summertime world of childhood and adolescence, the book also remains firmly grounded in the specifics of a particular time and place, conjuring them up with Proustian detail and affection." -- New York Times, June 21, 1986

"Mr. Hochschild illuminates, with a rare tact, the situation of both fathers and sons, and he avoids the traps of sentimentality and rancor both." -- New York Times Book Review, Mary Gordon, June 15, 1986

"The subtle and often brilliant observations here transcend the obvious conflict between the wealthy industrialist father and his son, a radical journalist. The child who found his father terrifying, distant, irrefutable, crushingly formal and silent, discovers as a man his father's weakness, and so bridges the generational chasm to find that his father's heart beats within him. "The author was an anti-war activist, a writer for Ramparts, and co-founder of Mother Jones magazine. His father was a . . . board chairman, whose affluence was built upon mineral holdings throughout the world. However, the division was not so simple. Harold Hochschild counted himself a liberal democrat and was an early opponent of the war in Viet Nam, a supporter of Communist China, at times a conservationist. He was on Nixon's famous enemies list, and, like many, counted it an honor. Thus there were no violent arguments or severance of ties as young Adam made his own political choices. . . .

"The elder Hochschild was obsessively generous and hoarded the thousands of letters of thanks he received for his hospitality and philanthropy. His son finds his behavior inscrutable, until he discovers a synthesizing letter found among his father's papers. In it his father discusses the character of American Jews. It becomes clear that his life's idea essentially was to be everything that a stereotypical Jew was not: generous, demure, strait-laced, uncomplaining. The author recalls that his greatest crime as a child was talking too much at the dinner table. With this vulnerability--however prejudiced--his father's character becomes whole, understandable, even forgivable.

"This is a fine entry to an already rich genre. Many of the chapters have the resonance of short stories, setting small, unforgettable scenes, and capping them with a final sentence that subtly and remarkably underscores their ironies." -- Kirkus Reviews, June 1986

"[a] gem of a book." -- Publisher's Weekly, May 2, 1986

From the Back Cover:

"An exquisite memoir of a boy growing up: of a world of privilege and the one beyond. It is in coming to understand his powerful father that Adam Hochschild is able to understand both worlds."--Studs Terkel

"I loved reading HALF THE WAY HOME. It is such a gentle book, its eloquence so delicate--and at the same time very strong, dealing as it does with such an exceptionally, intensely difficult relationship."--Alice Adams

"His story is fascinating, and the portrait of a lost childhood offered here evokes one of the archetypal dreams of the American mind." --E. L. Doctorow "I was so moved, disturbed and diverted by this beautifully plain account of the most complicated and delicate set of emotions, not just between father and son but more widely between the mystery of power and powerlessness." --Nadine Gordimer

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