"Riveting and heart-rending."
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.
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