Thursday, June 29, 2017

Alfred and Agnes: The Story of My Immigrant Parents by Frieda Fritz Stiehl

ALFRED and AGNES: The Story of My Immigrant Parents  by Frieda Fritz Stiehl

What a wonderful book!  The author has written a history of her family, especially her father and mother, German immigrants to the United States in the last century. With a plethora of photographs and an unflinching eye on her family’s “characters,” she has written a chronicle for all German-Americans -- all immigrants. Her family comes alive in the pages as each of their lives is detailed. 

She makes these ordinary people, their work, their homes, their villages and, ultimately, their Americanization, come alive for the reader. This is an unforgettable archive of the recent past.

The research is impeccably done. The photographs help orient the reader and bring the narrative to life. Stretching back to the Thirty Years War, coming forward to German Unification, World War I and the devastation on the German psyche by reparations and the rise of Nazism, the Dust Bowl years in the Midwest and finally a dairy farm in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, all are presented in vivid relief.

Anyone who is interested in immigrants, rural life, family dynamics, friendships, farming, pre-industrial life and “how things are made” will find much of interest.  Book groups, especially those with an immigrant or farming interest, will be able to sustain a lengthy discussion.

5 of 5 stars

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