March 25, 1999
Making It: Max Frankel and Henry Kissinger
What is striking to me about the two authors is how parallel their lives have been; how much these two Jewish immigrant men put their stamp on U.S. politics these last 40 years; and, more importantly, how much we owe them (and others) for clearing a path within mainstream America that led to the legitimation and acceptance here of all Jews.
Both men were German-Jewish children whose parents fled Germany with them in tow. Kissinger (older by seven years) was 15 and landed here in 1938. Frankel, born in 1930, escaped with his mother shortly after Germany invaded Poland. His account of the family's flight from Germany to Poland and then back again, without proper papers or passports, reads like a Hollywood drama. Both families settled in Washington Heights, an enclave of working-class German-Jewish, Irish, Hispanic and black families, on the northern perimeter of New York City.