A Political Education

A Political Education

Coming of Age in Paris and New York

André Schiffrin was born the son of one of France’s most esteemed publishers, in a world peopled by some of the day’s leading writers and intellectuals, such as André Gide, Jean­Paul Sartre, and Antoine de Saint­Exupéry. But this world was torn apart when the Nazis marched into Paris on young André’s fifth birthday.

Beginning with the family’s dramatic escape to Casablanca and eventually New York, A Political Education recounts the surprising twists and turns of a life that saw Schiffrin become, himself, one of the world’s most respected publishers. Emerging from the émigré community of wartime New York (a community that included Hannah Arendt and Helen and Kurt Wolff), he would go on to develop an insatiable appetite for literature and politics: heading a student group he renamed the Students for a Democratic Society (the SDS) . . . leading student groups at European conferences, once as an unwitting front man for the CIA . . . and eventually being appointed to head the very imprint cofounded by his father— Pantheon.

There, he would discover and publish some of the world’s leading writers, including Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault, Art Spiegelman, Studs Terkel, and Marguerite Duras. But in a move that would make headlines, Schiffrin would ultimately rebel at corporate ownership and form his own publishing house, where he would set a new standard for independent publishing.

Andre Schiffrin

ANDRÉ SCHIFFRIN was, for thirty years, the publisher of Pantheon Books, where he published some of the world’s leading writers, including Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault, Eric Hobsbawm, Art Spiegelman, Simone De Beauvoir, Studs Terkel and Marguerite Duras. In 1990 Schiffrin left Pantheon to found The New Press, and many of those writers came with him. He is the author of the acclaimed study of the book industry, The Business of Books. André Schiffrin divides his time between Paris and New York.

“Schiffrin’s memoir is a master class in living, learning and writing. Sign up now for a fabulous experience.” —Bill Moyers

“This remarkable work is more than a flesh-and-blood tale of growing up. It is the stunning and revelatory road map of a a seeker. It is an autobiography of ideas.” —Studs Terkel

”André Schiffrin’s life story is a riveting journey, from the ‘commanding heights’ of American culture in the 1940s through the culture crash of the Reagan-Bush era. Along the way we meet the ‘great and the good’—heroes like André Gide, who really cared about freedom—as well as villains who just didn’t give a damn. This is the best literary and political memoir I’ve read in years—an indispensable text for understanding what we’ve lost.”—John R. Macarthur

”Schiffrin evokes the bittersweet tang of émigré life in New York.” The New York Times Book Review

”Schiffrin’s coming-of-age story acts as a springboard for a series of vivid and insightful vignettes about political developments in the United States.” Bookforum

Close
MobyLives