In ‘Fromms: How Julius Fromm’s Condom Empire Fell to the Nazis’, Götz Aly and Michael Sontheimer tell a meticulously researched story of how entrepreneur Julius Fromm, who had built a lucrative enterprise around a series of inventions and improvements of latex production techniques, lost his ‘condom empire’ in the process of ‘Aryanization’ in Nazi Germany. However the injustice persisted until well after the fall of the Nazi regime. Following Julius’s death in 1945, the Fromm family attempted to regain possession of their property, yet in 1951 they were merely offered a settlement that required the Fromms to pay (!) 174,300 West German marks to Otto Metz-Randa who, as a profiteer of the ‘Entjudung’ had gained ownership in 1939. Why then, asks reviewer Leon Rocha, did the American publisher tone down the original title of the book, ‘Wie der jüdische Kondomfabrikant Julius F unter die deutschen Räuber fiel’ (‘Fromms: How the Jewish Condom Manufacturer Julius F. Fell Prey to German Robbers’)?
Ten days after submitting the manuscript of his novel “Suicide” in October 2007, French artist and author Edouard Levé hanged himself in his Parisian apartment. Yet, as reviewer Hugo Wilcken argues, it would be quite misleading to read Levé’s last book as a fictionalised account of his own suicide; it many ways it is a negative image of it. While the book may start as if it was a memoir, the reader soon begins to doubt. There are unlikely moments (the night where the protagonist talks for eight hours straight about Marx and Freud); even more suspicious is the way the author gets inside the suicide’s head, and recounts scenes he couldn’t possibly know about. “Suicide” was widely and favourably reviewed in France. It has since been translated into Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese; translations into German and English are in preparation.
German filmmaker Werner Herzog — this year’s President of the International Jury at the Berlin International Film Festival 2010 — has long been as famous for his statements about film and culture as he has been for his actual movies. In his book ‘Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo’, Herzog chronicles his experiences between 1979 to 1981 while shooting (or, more often, waiting to shoot) his acclaimed film about a bombastic anti-hero in the Brazilian jungle. The journal form, writes reviewer Laura Kolbe, may well be the genre to which his writing is best suited: it provides an inherent structure, in which seasons change, personalities clash and reconcile and clash again, and budgets dwindle.
Share By Sara Farris Intellectual voyeurism is alive and well, especially when it is permitted to intrude into the private life of a classically repressed personality like Max Weber. Joachim Radkau’s biography accomplishes the task of scholarly snooping well, and will satisfy even the most prurient curiosity. In this 700 page work we are informed [...]
Jan Tschichold is best-known as one of the great typographers of the 20th century. A recent book (“Jan Tschichold, Master Typographer”, Thames and Hudson, New York 2008) traces his personal and artistic development from the ‘New Typography’ of the 1920s to his late (post-war) appreciation of classical typography. First and foremost, however, writes reviewer John Holbo, this “prodigal son of classical typography and design” is a man of paradox, who is forever grappling with the question of how to identify rules in what is essentially an uncodifiable art.