The Eitingons: A Twentieth Century Story
  • Alternative view 1 of The Eitingons: A Twentieth Century Story
  • Alternative view 2 of The Eitingons: A Twentieth Century Story

The Eitingons: A Twentieth Century Story

by Mary-Kay Wilmers
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A family history that explores the KGB, the fur trade, Freud and the assassination of Trotsky

Leonid Eitingon was a KGB assassin who dedicated his life to the Soviet regime. He was in China in the early 1920s, in Turkey in the late 1920s, in Spain during the Civil War, and, crucially, in Mexico, helping to organize the assassination of Trotsky. “As

Overview

A family history that explores the KGB, the fur trade, Freud and the assassination of Trotsky

Leonid Eitingon was a KGB assassin who dedicated his life to the Soviet regime. He was in China in the early 1920s, in Turkey in the late 1920s, in Spain during the Civil War, and, crucially, in Mexico, helping to organize the assassination of Trotsky. “As long as I live,” Stalin said, “not a hair of his head shall be touched.” It did not work out like that.

Max Eitingon was a psychoanalyst, a colleague, friend and protégé of Freud’s. He was rich, secretive and—through his friendship with a famous Russian singer— implicated in the abduction of a white Russian general in Paris in 1937. Motty Eitingon was a New York fur dealer whose connections with the Soviet Union made him the largest trader in the world. Imprisoned by the Bolsheviks, questioned by the FBI. Was Motty everybody’s friend or everybody’s enemy?

Mary-Kay Wilmers, best known as the editor of the London Review of Books, began looking into aspects of her remarkable family twenty years ago. The result is a book of astonishing scope and thrilling originality that throws light into some of the darkest corners of the last century. At the center of the story stands the author herself—ironic, precise, searching, and stylish—wondering not only about where she is from, but about what she’s entitled to know.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Unlike the hordes of amateur historians who have mobbed the world’s libraries over the past decade on the theory that reconstructing lineage equates to personal discovery, Wilmers is up to something that commands general attention.”
—Christopher Glazek, New Yorker

“Wilmers’ adventures in digging through [the Eitingons’] lost world makes Mary-Kay one of the book’s most intriguing characters.”
Harper’s

“Like characters in some Russian Jewish Stalinist Freudian capitalist 20th-century fairy tale, the Eitingons are larger than life, their fates bitter and all too human.”
New York Times

“A superbly written book, The Eitingons is much more than a family history, for the author has a deep knowledge of the cultural and political context, whether of twentieth-century America or the Soviet Union, in which they lived. It stands as an intimate portrait of a world that seems far removed from our own.”
The Observer

The Eitingons is a riveting history of the twentieth century. It deals with war, displacement, murder, espionage, the Jewish diaspora and psychoanalysis. It explains Trotsky’s assassination, the growth of Freud’s teachings, the importance of the fur trade, the uses of money and the lure of the past. There is a lightness and a truthfulness in the narrative that makes you turn every page with pure fascination.”
—Colm Tóibín

“Wilmers pieces together what she can of the shadowy life of Leonid Eitingon, a high-level KGB killer … and looks for clues that her grandfather’s cousin Max, a protégé of Freud in Berlin, and Motty, a New York fur trader, were also working for Stalin. What emerges is a fascinating story of family secrets and silences.”
New Statesman

“Well researched, bold, and revealing, Wilmers’s book transforms a series of dark family secrets into an illuminating experience for anybody brave enough to delve into the enigma of family history.”
Publishers Weekly

“Compelling … [Wilmers] has produced a deeply-researched family chronicle, which bears only a trace resemblance to the memoirs that dominate the book industry.”
Barnes and Noble Review

Daily Telegraph
Wilmers is a true scholar of these times and a sophisticated narrator.
Sunday Telegraph
An extraordinary memoir … Wilmers has turned the raw material of her family into literature.
Herald (Scotland)
A truly fascinating family history, almost epic in its tracing back and forth across the Atlantic, and full of what heights human beings can reach, as well as the depths.
New Yorker
“Unlike the hordes of amateur historians who have mobbed the world’s libraries over the past decade on the theory that reconstructing lineage equates to personal discovery, Wilmers is up to something that commands general attention.”
Harper's
Wilmers’ adventures in digging through [the Eitingons’] lost world makes Mary-Kay one of the book’s most intriguing characters.
New York Times
Like characters in some Russian Jewish Stalinist Freudian capitalist 20th-century fairy tale, the Eitingons are larger than life, their fates bitter and all too human.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781844679003
Publisher:
Verso Books
Publication date:
05/02/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
492
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.80(d)

What People are saying about this

Colm Toibin
The Eitingons is a riveting history of the twentieth century. It deals with war, displacement,
murder, espionage, the Jewish diaspora and psychoanalysis. It explains Trotsky’s assassination, the growth of Freud’s teachings, the importance of the fur trade, the uses of money and the lure of the past. There is a lightness and a truthfulness in the narrative that makes you turn every page with pure fascination.

Meet the Author

Mary-Kay Wilmers is the editor of the London Review of Books, the largest- selling literary publication in Europe. She has written for the Listener, TLS and The New Yorker.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >