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Mostly Morgenthaus: A Family History by Henry Morgenthau III (182,000 words, 82 illustrations)

Mostly Morgenthaus is the intimate portrait of an extraordinary American family, which included an ambassador, a cabinet member, prominent businessmen and a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. Reaching back to the eighteenth century, Henry Morgenthau III tells the story of this Jewish family, tracing the careers of his great-grandfather, the dynamic but unstable Lazarus Morgenthau (1815-1897), who in 1866 transported his family to New York after making and losing a fortune in Mannheim, Germany; his grandfather, the determined Henry Sr. (1856-1946), who recouped the family fortune and retired from business in midlife to devote himself to public service as ambassador to Turkey and plenipotentiary throughout the Armenian crisis of 1913-15; and his father, the diffident Henry Jr. (1891-1967), who became one of the country’s most influential men and, as secretary of the Treasury under FDR, one of the first Jews to serve in the cabinet.

From his privileged vantage point, the author describes the Bretton Woods Conference, the controversial Morgenthau Plan, the scandal surrounding Harry Dexter White, his parents’ remarkably close friendship with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, his sister Joan’s spectacular White House coming-out party, the encounter his cousin — historian Barbara Tuchman — had with Roosevelt, and the career of his younger brother, Robert Morgenthau, US district attorney in New York. He also provides an inside picture of the remarkable German-Jewish families — the Strausses, Lehmans, Ochses, Guggenheims, Wertheims — who played important roles in American life.

“Henry Morgenthau 3d has written a remarkable book — an admiring but still often critical account of an important American family by one of its members... The story of the Morgenthaus is classic immigrant history.” — Arthur Hertzberg,
The New York Times

“[A] fondly detailed, often humorous, intimate family memoir, covering the Horatio Alger-like rise of an immigrant family to affluence and influence in the New World... [with] a darker, more troubling subtext. As New York’s German Jews emerged from the cocoon of poverty, they struggled to camouflage any traces of ethnicity that might distinguish them from the predominantly Christian community...” — Stephen Birmingham,
Washington Post

“A fourth-generation Morgenthau pens a lively and engaging biography of his family of high achievers, overlaid with a fresh view of changing Jewish acculturation during the past two American centuries... From letters and family stories, the author assembles a gripping and tragic account of the 1915 Armenian massacre... Thirty years later, during WW II, the author’s father, Henry, Jr. — FDR’s secretary of the treasury — presented a scathing report to the President on the ‘Acquiescence of the Government to the Murder of the Jews’ with equal lack of effect. Personal history that opens to a larger cultural and political account of the 20th century: fluent and passionately humane.” —
Kirkus Reviews

“Storybook histories of old-line German-Jewish families in America resemble one another to a remarkable degree...
Mostly Morgenthaus, the latest and one of the most interesting examples of this genre, dissents from the storybook version of events in numerous ways... this volume reminds us that American Jewish history is remarkably unpredictable, and surprises abound.” — Jonathan D. Sarna, Commentary Magazine

“Sprinkled with backroom revelations of the New Deal, this dramatic family saga focuses on three patriarchs, each driven by a sense of destiny... This history of a resilient family includes closeups of FDR, Al Smith, Ike, Eleanor Roosevelt and the author’s brother, Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau.” —
Publishers Weekly

“Insider family chronicles rarely offer the richness and luster with which the reader is rewarded in
Mostly Morgenthaus... This personalized account is both moving and fascinating. As the only recent examination of the Morgenthaus’ impact on American history, as an intimate portrait of prominent immigrant society during America’s Gilded Age, and as a model for those tracing their cultural roots, this makes good history...” — Library Journal

“With the Roosevelts and the Kennedys, the Morgenthaus are a family greatly and famously in the service of the Republic. This book, partly family history, partly personal memoir, adds in a charming way to the story.” —
John Kenneth Galbraith

“The Morgenthaus were one of those great German-Jewish families who broke through the snobbish anti-Semitism of the Wasp mainstream in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to become a force in American public life. This is a charming, intimate portrayal of three fascinating generations in American history.” —
Peter Grose

“I have found
Mostly Morgenthaus a marvelously engrossing and richly informative account of how a distinguished American family moved from Judaism to assimilation and back to Judaism once more. In his four-generation story, Henry Morgenthau III discusses his forebears with an admirable mix of affection and clear-sightedness. Not the least of the book’s attractions are the lively, first-hand vignettes it offers of New York’s German-Jewish patriciate and of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt at work and play. Infinitely rewarding, meticulously wrought, Mostly Morgenthaus is a model of family history, a tour de force in a tricky and taxing genre.” — H. Stuart Hughes

“A fascinating volume, I am gratified that Henry Morgenthau has made the time and the effort to chronicle one of the most interesting émigré families with a background in this country of nearly two centuries.” —
Abram L. Sachar