legacy of a false promise

I’ve always thought of myself as someone who likes reading about history.  But it may be that I’m actually someone who just likes reading historical fiction. 

This revelation about myself came after I accepted a review copy of  Margaret Fuchs Singer’s book, Legacy of a False Promise: A Daughter’s Reckoning.  In it, Singer writes about her family’s experience when, during the 1950s, her parents were outed as former Communists and subpeonaed to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Based on diligent research as well as her own memories, Singer’s book moves between the personal and the historical, the anecdote and documented. 

The first few chapters roused my interest.  Singer was 13 when she discovered her parents’ past, when the first accusations came.  Having become disillisioned with communism, they had left the party before her birth, and she knew nothing of their activities.  But this discovery meant their lives were about to become more difficult — professionally for her parents, and socially for all of them.

I found the early pages, establishing the family relationships and their initial reactions to the news, quite interesting.  But as I read further, the tone of the book transitioned more from memoir to research, the focus from people to events.  Singer’s efforts at creating a clear timeline of her familes experiences are clear, but in the process of documenting that timeline, she lost my interest. 

Which certainly isn’t to say the book is a bad one.  I decided to move on after about 40 pages, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to more serious historical readers, especially anyone interested in the HUAC era.  But if you prefer your history to be told through fictional characters rather than documented sources, as it seems I do, this one may not be for you.


~ by Molly on May 3, 2010.

One Response to “legacy of a false promise”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Molly. Molly said: First impressions of LEGACY OF A FALSE PROMISE — http://ping.fm/1mEVA […]

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