Joachim Fest’s memoir Not I was just released last month, and has garnered rave reviews in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
From William Grimes of the New York Times:
The book, which Mr. Fest completed just before his death in 2006, describes in rich detail the moral education and day-to-day experiences of a sensitive, if smart-alecky, member of the Bildungsbürgertum. That word refers to the high-minded, educated middle stratum, a cultural elite whose members, typically, refused to believe that the country of Schiller and Goethe could entrust their fate to a barbarian….“Not I” shrinks the Wagnerian scale of German history in the 1930s and 1940s to chamber music dimensions. It is intensely personal, cleareyed and absolutely riveting, partly because the author, thrust into an outsider’s position, developed a keen appreciation of Germany’s contradictions and paradoxes.
From the New York Times Book Review:
Joachim Fest’s fascinating memoir about what it was like to come of age during the years of the Third Reich is unusual because its central character is not the author but the author’s remarkable father. Johannes Fest was the middle-class headmaster of a primary school in suburban Berlin, a pious Catholic and father of five, a cultural conservative who revered Goethe and Kant, and a loyal German patriot — “a dyed-in-the-wool Prussian,” in Fest’s words — the kind of person who might have been expected to become an active supporter of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The socially conformist thing to do for a man of distinction—journalist, filmmaker, author of the best-selling first postwar German biography of Hitler, eventually co-editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung—would have been to recount the history of his own distinguished career. Instead Joachim Fest (1926-2006) chose to write Not I, a colorful and dramatic account of his childhood and youth in the nonconformist family that made him what he became.