I think I have mentioned on this blog -- certainly in my Autobiography -- that I have written two books about my family [neither of which has been published, of course.] The first book deals with my father's mother and father, my grandparents Barney and Ella Wolff, who lived in New York from the 1880's until their deaths. Barney was a major figure in the New York Socialist Party, running for various public offices on the Socialist ticket and once, in 1917, actually winning election to the New York Board of Aldermen. The second book deals with my parents, Walter and Lottie, starting with their courtship as teenagers in a group of young Socialists called Circle One, and continuing until their deaths in 1975 and 1981. Both books are reconstructed principally from an enormous cache of family letters that I inherited at my father's death, although for the first book I did a good deal of archival research on the New York Socialist Party and my grandfather's role in it.
It would be hopelessly and insanely narcissistic for me to post these books seriatum on this blog, but the section of the first book dealing with the New York Socialist Party actually has some legitimate historical interest, so I am going to clean it up and put it on box.net, where anyone who is interested can take a look at it.
The letters are, in their way, quite marvelous. They conjure a milieu that is now long past and mostly forgotten, a world centering on family life as well as on political commitments that today seem to come from another world. Long before I read the letters, indeed long before I knew anything systematic about Marx and socialist theory, I knew that my grandfather had been an important Socialist, and that simple fact served as a guiding beacon for me, drawing me eventually into a deep study of the writings of Karl Marx that resulted in two books and a number of articles. I remember my grandfather only as a genial old man who ran something called The Workman's Circle Sanitarium in Liberty, New York. Through the letters, I discovered him as a romantic young man, a deeply committed Socialist, and something of a self-taught literary stylist as well.