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Susan Erony)

Illustrious Immigrants: The Intellectual Migration from Europe, 1930-41 by Laura Fermi (164,000 words, 29 illustrations)

“Migration from Europe has occurred without interruption since the time America was discovered. There have always been some intellectuals, educated abroad, whose presence and work enriched our culture. Laura Fermi, however, analyzes a new and unique phenomenon in the history of immigration, the wave of intellectuals from continental Europe that from 1930 to 1941 brought to these shores well over 20,000 professional refugees. Most immigrant intellectuals were pushed out of the European continent by the dictatorships of that period; they were ‘the men and women who came to America fully made, with their Ph.D.’s or diplomas from art academies or music conservatories in their pocket, and who continue to engage in intellectual pursuits in this country.’ Among them we find Franz Alexander, Bruno Bettelheim, Enrico Fermi, Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, Igor Stravinsky, John von Neumann, Paul Tillich and a long sequence of Nobel Prize winners and exceptional scholars. Their contribution to American life continues to the present. Working with a sample of about 1,900 names and relying on personal contacts, interviews, memoirs, newspaper accounts, obituaries, and similar sources, Mrs. Fermi succeeds in conveying the significance of the intellectual immigration and the areas of its impact on America. She describes the personal trials and the successes of these persons caught up in the web of persecution and peregrinations leading to higher institutions of learning in the United States... the delightful style of the book, the new light it throws on the period studied from a participant observer’s position, and the insight it brings forth concerning the mutual enrichment of American and European intellectual communities make it enjoyable and instructive reading.” — Silvano M. Tomasi,
The International Migration Review

Illustrious Immigrants is an honest and informative book; it is well-organized, well-informed, well-balanced... crammed with information, with illuminating anecdotes, often moving incidents and revealing statistics.” — Peter Gay, The New York Times

“[R]ich in personal anecdote and communication which make delightful reading... in so many ways a splendid and useful book, tackling with imagination, industry, and a rare combination of personal concern and emotional detachment a subject that would frighten — indeed thus far has frightened — professional social historians by its magnitude and complexity.” — Alice Kimball Smith,

“[Laura Fermi has] made an effort to bring together materials that exist nowhere else and to juxtapose them so as to reveal patterns that would otherwise be invisible. For this, we should be grateful... Mrs Fermi’s work is earnest and responsible.” — Harriet Zuckerman,
Physics Today

“[Laura Fermi is] an immensely knowledgeable, discerning, and unpretentious guide to the influx [of the intellectual migration from Fascist Europe], as well as a personal example of its lustrous quality... this engaging book... will prove to be indispensable to all students of transatlantic interactions.” — Cushing Strout,
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

“This is an optimistic book, a contribution to a singular chapter in the history of American science and learning.” — Philip Morrison,
Scientific American