Cover image for Confronting history : a memoir
Confronting history : a memoir
Mosse, George L. (George Lachmann), 1918-1999.
Publication Information:
Madison : University of Wisconsin, [2000]

Physical Description:
xv, 219 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D15.M668 A3 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Just two weeks before his death in January 1999, George L. Mosse, one of this century's great historians, finished writing his memoir, a fascinating and fluent account of a remarkable life that spanned three continents and many of the major events of the twentieth century. Writing about the events of his life through a historian's lens, Mosse gives us a personal history of our century. This is a story told with the clarity, passion, and verve that entranced thousands of Mosse's students and that countless readers have found, and will continue to find, in his many scholarly books.

Confronting History describes Mosse's opulent childhood in Weimar Berlin; his exile in Paris and England, including boarding school and study at Cambridge University; his second exile in the U.S. at Haverford, Harvard, Iowa, and Wisconsin; and his extended stays in London and Jerusalem. Mosse also deals with matters of personal identity. He discusses being a Jew and his attachment to Israel and Zionism. He addresses his gayness, his coming out, and his growing scholarly interest in issues of sexuality.

This touching memoir, sometimes harrowing, often humorous, is guided in part by Mosse's belief that "what man is, only history tells," and by his constant themes of the fate of liberalism, the defining events that can bring about the generational political awakenings of youth (from the anti-fascism struggles of the 1930s to the campus anti-war movement of the 1960s), the meanings of masculinity and racial and sexual stereotypes, the enigma of exile, and--most of all--the importance of finding one's self through the pursuit of truth, and through an honest and unflinching analysis of one's place in the context of his times.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

George Mosse was one of the most celebrated historians of this century. His childhood in Weimar Berlin and his "exile" as a Jew in France and England gave him a unique insight into the perils of totalitarianism. Despite his cosmopolitan background, he remained intensely conscious of his Jewish identity and he was a dedicated Zionist. This autobiographical memoir was completed just before his death in January 1999. Mosse portrays his life as a series of journeys of both self-discovery and discovery of wider human truths. He eloquently dismisses fashionable deconstructionism and indicates a deep faith in the value of history as a discipline. His personal struggles with both his ethnic and sexual identity are described with both humor and passion. Historians and general readers will find this an engrossing and often moving account of a full, rich life. --Jay Freeman