Williams Collins has pre-empted a memoir by political columnist and commentator Daniel Finkelstein uncovering his family’s devastating experiences of persecution during the Second World War.
Love and Murder: A Memoir of My Family’s War will tell the intertwined stories of the experiences of his mother and father at the hands of Hitler and Stalin and their eventual, hard-fought survival of the war's horrors.
Publishing director Arabella Pike pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Toby Mundy at Aevitas Creative Management. Publication is slated for spring 2023 as a lead title. US rights have just been sold to Kris Puopolo at Doubleday at auction.
In Love and Murder Finkelstein tells the story of his maternal grandfather, Alfred Weiner, a decorated German war hero and the man acknowledged to have been one of the first – if not the first – to recognise the danger of the rise of German fascism. He began his warnings in 1919 and rose to be one of the leaders of Berlin’s Jews. Then, secretly at first, he started to collect evidence of Nazi crimes, which helped the war effort and eventually helped convict the Nuremberg defendants and Adolf Eichmann.
The book follows the alarm bells Alfred began ringing, the turning of the tide towards hatred, the family’s desperate escape attempts, their friendship with Anne Frank’s family, and the terror when the women of Finkelstein’s family, his mother included, were rounded up and transported to Bergen-Belsen.
William Collins explained: “On his father’s side, Finkelstein unfolds the horrors that evolved under Soviet threat after Poland was carved up between Hitler and Stalin. His family was ripped apart, his grandfather, one of the civic leaders of Lwow was sent to do hard labour in the Gulag while his father was deported to Siberia, forced into a gruelling life of slave labour in freezing winters and unimaginable hardship, finally journeying across Russia, Persia and Iraq on a path to eventual freedom.
“Through their extraordinary journeys we learn about a secret passport-forging operation that saved hundreds of Jews from Hitler, Stalin’s attempt to destroy the Poles, the tiny exchange of prisoners which was all that was left of what had been Himmler’s grand plan, and the creation of one of the world’s greatest archives on the Nazis and their crimes.”
Finkelstein is a former executive editor of the Times, who continues to write for the paper and has been named political columnist of the year four times. Before joining the Times in 2001 he was adviser to Prime Minister John Major and Conservative leader William Hague. He was appointed to the House of Lords in 2013. A collection of his columns, Everything in Moderation (William Collins), was published in 2020.
He said: “My parents’ stories tell what happens when pluralism gives way to prejudice and the rule of law gives way to the rule of force. I think it is the right time to relate what happened to them. Their tales are gripping and surprising. I’m so happy to be working with William Collins to share them.”
Pike added: "Love and Murder is a very special book from the legendary Daniel Finkelstein. It tells the unforgettable story of both sides of Danny’s family in early 20th-century Europe: ordinary people placed in intolerable circumstances as their lives are overturned by the horrors of fascism, extremism and prejudice. Epic in scale and deeply personal, meticulously researched and intimately written, Love and Murder will, we believe, touch profoundly all who read it.”
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