An Un-American Childhood

Kimmage, Ann

Published by University of Georgia Press
ISBN 10: 0820320781 / ISBN 13: 9780820320786
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An Un-American Childhood is the thoughtful memoir of Ann Kimmage's experiences as a child and young woman in communist Czechoslovakia and China. In 1950, while McCarthyism reigned in America, Kimmage's parents, Abe and Belle Chapman, were active, loyal members of the American Communist Party. Her family lived in Queens, New York, until they were forced underground, illegally fleeing first to Mexico and ultimately Prague, Czechoslovakia, which at the time was in the early stages of its communist revolution. There, the Chapmans became the Capeks―a mystery to their new neighbors, but Czech citizens nonetheless. What Kimmage had at first been led to believe was a brief sojourn became a transforming, thirteen-year journey.

Informative and passionate, An Un-American Childhood provides a unique perspective on the lives of American communist expatriates. Kimmage dramatizes her family's struggle to integrate into a new society and simultaneously maintain their unity and identity. Kimmage and her sister had little choice but to completely adopt Czech language and culture as their own, which created a rift between them and their parents, who were unwilling or unable to do the same.

An Un-American Childhood also opens up a personal perspective on the international communist community. Set primarily in Prague, the memoir also recalls a two-year stay in Beijing and visits to such places as East Berlin and Moscow. Kimmage's accounts of her schooling and involvement in social organizations such as the Young Pioneers tell of her exposure to Marxist ideology and morality. However, for her, Kimmage says, life was always less politics than it was culture, language, and relationships.

Ending with their disillusioned return to the United States, the Chapman family's saga presents an intriguing mix of political events and personal reactions. An Un-American Childhood tells of a family twice torn from its cultural roots, and tried, tested, and changed by and for its beliefs.

From the Back Cover: An Un-American Childhood is the thoughtful memoir of Ann Kimmage's experiences growing up as the daughter of American communist expatriates during the early Cold War era. As Kimmage recalls her youthful impressions of highly politicized daily life in Czechoslovakia and China, she also conveys the shocks and strains of being taken without forewarning, at eight years old, from her familiar American world - friends, food, language, customs, and virtually all of her personal belongings - and being totally immersed in another culture. In 1950, while McCarthyism reigned in America, Kimmage's parents, Abe and Belle Chapman, were active, loyal members of the American Communist Party. Kimmage lived with her sister and parents in Queens, New York, until they were suddenly forced underground, illegally fleeing first to Mexico and ultimately to Prague, Czechoslovakia, which at the time was in the early stages of its communist revolution. There, the Chapmans became the Capeks - a mystery to their new neighbors, but Czech citizens nonetheless. What Kimmage had at first been led to believe was a brief sojourn became a transforming, fourteen-year journey. Kimmage dramatizes her family's struggles to integrate into a new society and simultaneously maintain their unity and identity. Young and impressionable as she was, Kimmage had little choice but to adopt Czech language and culture as her own, which created a rift between Kimmage and her parents, who were unwilling or unable to do the same. Set primarily in Prague, the memoir also recalls a two-year stay in Beijing and visits to such places as East Berlin and Moscow, thus opening up a personal perspective on the international communist community.Although Kimmage's accounts of her schooling and involvement in social organizations such as the Young Pioneers tell of her exposure to Marxist ideology and morality, life for her, she writes, was always less politics than it was culture, language, and relationships. The Chapman family's saga ends with their disillusioned departure from Czechoslovakia, a second instance of complete uprooting in Kimmage's still young life. Presenting an intriguing mix of political events and personal reactions, An Un-American Childhood tells of a young girl twice torn from her cultural roots as she and her family are tried, tested, and changed by and for their beliefs.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: An Un-American Childhood
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: As New

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