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The Memory of All That is Katharine Weber’s memoir of her extraordinary family. Her maternal grandmother, Kay Swift, was known both for her own music (she was the first woman to compose the score to a hit Broadway show, Fine and Dandy) and for her ten-year romance with George Gershwin. Their love affair began during Swift’s marriage to James Paul Warburg, the multitalented banker and economist who advised (and feuded with) FDR. Weber creates an intriguing and intimate group portrait of the renowned Warburg family, from her great-great-uncle, the eccentric art historian Aby Warburg, whose madness inspired modern theories of iconography, to her great-grandfather Paul M. Warburg, the architect of the Federal Reserve System whose unheeded warnings about the stock-market crash of 1929 made him “the Cassandra of Wall Street.” As she throws new light on her beloved grandmother’s life and many amours, Weber also considers the role the psychoanalyst Gregory Zilboorg played in her family history, along with the ways the Warburg family has been as celebrated for its accomplishments as it has been vilified over the years by countless conspiracy theorists (from Henry Ford to Louis Farrakhan), who labeled Paul Warburg the ringleader of the so-called international Jewish banking conspiracy. Her mother, Andrea Swift Warburg, married Sidney Kaufman, but their unlikely union, Weber believes, was a direct consequence of George Gershwin’s looming presence in the Warburg family. A notorious womanizer, Weber’s father was a peripatetic filmmaker who made propaganda and training films for the OSS during World War II before producing the first movie with smells, the regrettable flop that was AromaRama. He was as much an enigma to his daughter as he was to the FBI, which had him under surveillance for more than forty years, and even noted Katharine’s birth in a memo to J. Edgar Hoover.Colorful, evocative, insightful, and very funny, The Memory of All That is an enthralling look at a tremendously influential—and highly eccentric—family, as well as a consideration of how their stories, with their myriad layers of truth and fiction, have both provoked and influenced one of our most prodigiously gifted writers.From the Hardcover edition.
Published: Crown Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
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    Knowing nothing about Kay Swift and only the bare minimum about George Gershwin, this book was quite informative for me. However, I had a tough time trying to keep up with the other assorted family members of the author. It was strange that she would write at first about her father and then eventually make it back to Kay Swift and George Gershwin. My husband, who grew up in NYC and knows a lot more about these people also found that strange. Somehow it seems backwardsmore
    This book was a challenge and a chore to finish. I typically enjoy memoirs, but this seemed a dramatization of family dysfunction and less about the relationship between Gershwin and Swift. Additionally, the writing style was disjointed and the name-dropping was tedious. Should a reader in the 21st century know social figures of the 20's, 30's & 40's? Even the title falls into pretentious name-dropping, as George Gershwin is a minor character in the overall memoir.more
    This book wasn't my favorite but it was ok. It tells an interesting story about a truly fascinating family and all their dysfunctions but there are so many references to different people that the reader gets lost in the who's who.I would have enjoyed this book more if there wasn't so many people mentioned and there was more written about the main characters.more
    This was a librarything giveaway. Katharine Weber does a good job putting together the eccentric,more
    I love to read biographies of dysfunctional families, and this is one dysfunctional bunch! The book started out with Katherine Weber's memories with her father and quickly branched out to other members of her family. I have to admit looking up photos of quite of few of the cast of characters and using IMDB.com to look up others. While parts of the book were quite interesting, others seem longed and drawn out. The pages of her father's FBI files seemed endless, and others just seemed to be edited. But yet parts of the story were wonderful. The "aromarama" anecdote was quite hilarious, and I wonder what her father, Sidney Kaufman, would have thought about the use of smells at Disney World and the lot now. Aromarama, was a method her father was involved with whereas smells would be paired in key scenes of a movie to add to the viewer experience, for example someone would peel an orange and an orange smell would be piped into the theater. But alas, the results were not what they expected. And I thought this was a new thing! One more note, I was completely confused at who was who, and the family tree at the front wasn't much help. All-in-all a pretty interesting read but one where I wish I knew the characters better, since I would have enjoyed it a bit more.more
    This book mainly disappointed me but I found some of the information interesting. The first 122 pages were uninteresting and disjointed. I kept wondering when the author was going to get to Gershwin and why I cared about her childhood and father. I also thought that Weber “whined” a lot. Poor me that my father wasn’t always around and my mother wasn’t the best, or at least what she wanted her to be. (I would suggest she look at memoirs like The Glass Castle or Angela’s Ashes for people who didn’t have parents with good parenting skills.) And then she also “whined” because there was little inheritance because of her grandmother’s divorce settlement, and hoped that Angela would leave her daughters something even though the communication between her and Angela and Weber’s father was very limited. She even admits to being glad to have the excuse of a new baby to not visit her father when he was dying.I have always been a big Gershwin fan and I liked reading about him and Kay Swift. I must admit to not knowing about Ms Swift and this book has encouraged me to learn more about her as a composer. There were many times when Weber made excuses for happening, just not believing it could be so. She had correspondence from her grandmother’s friend but she did not seem to have much more outside information to rely on and then just excerpts from other sources. I am not sure I would have finished the book if I had not received it as an Early Review. It was disjointed, difficult to follow and with many characters that seemed to have little to do with George Gershwin and/or Kay Swift and if there was a thread of connection it was very tenuous. The few pages on Joseph Swift are an example of stretching why Kay might have done something. At the end of the book, my thought was that I really didn’t care about any of the characters and it had done very little to enrich my life and gave me only a slight bit of information I might find useful.I rated it 3 stars for the small amount of information on Gershwin and Swift’s musical career.more
    I like memoirs/biographies. And, I liked this one. It gave an interesting look at what life was like in the 1920's, 1930's, and 1940's for those who ran with the Broadway and songwriter crowd. But, because of the title, I expected to learn a lot more about George Gershwin from this. Gershwin actually plays a rather small part in the total book.Except for that disappointment, I did really enjoy this book. It was fun reading about the eccentricities of the author's family.more
    I had never read a title by Katharine Weber and immediately enjoyed her way with words, and yet the title was misleading as it was more about the family dysfunction than the relationship between Gershwin and Swift. Weber's description of the people involved within the 30's, 40's and 50's time frame was interesting but some of the facts didn't ring true for the lack of information (i.e., destruction of memorabilia per Swift's request).It was easy to read but not one I wanted to pick up and finish.more
    There is no denying that author Katharine Weber came from an extraordinary family. As a group, they seem to have possessed more than their share of wealth, talent, and a penchant for infidelity. Much of the well-written, engaging narrative emphasizes Weber's father, Sidney Kaufman, an unreliable dreamer who hovered on the fringe of the motion picture industry, full of grand plans that never came to fruition. The remainder focuses on Kay Swift, the author's maternal grandmother, a gifted musician and composer of songs that have become standards. Torn between her love for her husband and her love for George Gershwin, she lost them both.There is less about Gershwin than the subtitle suggests, but considering that he wasn't actually part of the family, it is not surprising that he does not figure prominently in the narrative. His fans may be most interested in recent, little-publicized speculation concerning the probable cause of the great composer's death.The Memory of All That is entertaining, but I am not likely to read it again. It renewed my gratitude for my ordinary, celebrity-free, faithful family, and it reminded me that the memoir genre is not one I truly enjoy.more
    I do not like to give negative reviews but I did not enjoy this book. Although one review described it as "elegant sin" I found nothing elegant about it, just members of her family having affairs. I guess the fact that her grandmother had an affair with a famous person was supposed to have made it interesting. The author was constantly berating her father and seemed to have no use for him and yet it seemed that over half the book was about him. The sequencing seemed to be disjointed-she would be talking about her grandmother and then something about her father would come up again.I do like the author's style of writing- very easy to read, but I just did care for this one book.more
    I found this book somewhat diverting, but for the most part it was a disappointment for me. I'm not sure if one can totally blame the author - it is marketed as if the main focus is on George Gershwin and Kay Swift, but their affair is not a big part of the book. Moreover, the author doesn't really know much about it. I would characterize this book more accurately as: A Memoir About Me and My Family, Many of Whom Were Rich and Famous and Therefore You Probably Heard of Them So You May Find This Interesting. It is also probably more about her father, Sidney Kaufman, than anyone else, but like many daughters, the author doesn't really know much about him either; she learned a lot of what she reports from requesting his FBI files!The writing isn't bad, but there is not much insightful or analytical. Nor is there much to be learned about Swift and Gershwin. Most of the story is lost to history; Kay asked Ira Gershwin to destroy all of their pictures and letters, and she destroyed her own collection as well. The author didn't have much additional knowledge of her own, especially of Gershwin. A notable exception is information she learned about Gershwin's disease and death recently reported in 2011 by Mark Leffert. That small section of the book was definitely important. Less impressive are the liberties taken by the author with the little pieces of information she remembers or reads about. In one instance, she makes the outrageous claim, in contradistinction to much evidence, that Martha Dodd - the daughter of the American Ambassador to Germany in the 1930’s and someone with whom the author’s father had an affair - became disillusioned with the Third Reich “when Hitler didn’t write or call”. Meanwhile, she criticizes Ron Chernow who, in his book The Warburgs, made some observations about the author’s family she disputes. But at least he based his assertions on interviews with family members (who, it should be added, are not family members whose accounts the author considers reliable, but I got a “he said, she said” feel over the dispute).I’m such a fanatical Gershwin fan, I’ll take what I can get. But still, The Memory Of All That could also have been called, The Memory of A Bit of That.more
    The only person I knew about was Gershwin and thought that this was a book about his life. I knew nothing of the other people, and at times lost track of who was related to whom. It seems that everyone was sleeping with everyone else and no one seemed to care. My thought was who would even care. The book was interesting when it delved into the creation of the musicals. I received this through LibraryThing to review.more
    This is an interesting book about many of the movers and shakers of the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening scene of a daughter and father swimming in the ocean, and the feeling of uncertainty on the part of the daughter. Many of the scenes convey the emotions of a young girl and her feelings of insecurity. This is an enjoyable book.more
    Having previously read Katharine Weber's moving novel Triangle, I was thrilled to receive this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. The Memory of All That is a memoir of Weber's family. Or, to be specific, the family's legacy of infidelities, many of which occurred on a grand scale.Weber's grandfather was James Warburg, of the international banking family. Her grandmother was Kay Swift, the talented composer, pianist and arranger. Swift worked with George Gershwin for many years, and was involved with him romantically for ten years, until his untimely death in 1937. Swift had divorced Warburg to be with Gershwin, and this involved leaving her three daughters in the care of their father. Swift and Warburg's middle daughter, Andrea, was Weber's mother.Weber's father was Sidney Kaufman. Sidney and Andrea married in 1948 when he was 38 and she was 26. They had two children; Weber's brother was born in 1951 and she was born in 1955. Weber was named for her grandmother Kay, and they shared a special bond that lasted until Swift's death in 1993.Sidney Kaufman remained a mystery to his wife and children for most of their lives, and the Memory of All That delves into the mysteries and fabrications surrounding Kaufman. Kaufman was, peripherally, in the movie business. Although he had aspirations to be a producer, the only verifiable film work he actually did was to insure completion bonds. Kaufman disappeared from his family's home in Forest Hills, Queens for days, weeks, or months at a time. The family did not know know where he was, or when he would return. As it turns out, he was seriously involved with a number of other women throughout his marriage to Andrea. For her part, Andrea put up with this poor treatment. Although she herself was a talented photographer, and also had income from the Warburg family, she never considered leaving Sidney.Being from New York, and being very close in age to Weber, I find her memories of her early years accurate and evocative of the place and time. Although the book is based on her own family, she has not relied so much on family stories and memories. She has done a tremendous amount of research into her own family history. Where the book falls short, in my opinion, is where Weber tries to give some explanation or motivation to someone's actions. She clearly cannot know what was in someone's mind at a certain point in time, and the conclusions feel contrived and condescending.Overall, I do recommend this book. It is well researched, and well written. Weber's family is interesting and intriguing. Muchmore
    The Memory of All That by Katherine Weber was disappointing. It was really split into two stories.The first half was about Katherine's childhood and her family and the second half was about the long affair (ten years) that her grandmother, Kay Swift had with George Gershwin.My main criticism is not about the morality of her relatives, I figure she is just telling what happened, but the lack of editing. There were times that the book just told too much about her family. So much so that it got to be boring. Then something interesting would pop up and later it would go back to being tedious. This book would have really have been improved by an impartial reader cutting out the unnecessary and repetitious parts. I know that the author love coffee, because she told me three times! If the tedious had been edited out this would have been a great book.Her father was an interesting rascal. He seemed to go out of his way to be a horrible father, like making promises and not keeping them. I really want to tell you more about him, but you might want to discover that for yourself. Her mother pampered as a child never learned to cook and seemed just not to know how to be a mother. I learned some intriguing facts about George Gershwin and would like to read more about him.Now the tough question, would I recommend this book? Yes, because of Katherine Weber’s unusual family and no because it should have left out chunks of boring and repetitious parts.I received this book from Library Thing and that in no way influenced my review.more
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    Reviews

    Knowing nothing about Kay Swift and only the bare minimum about George Gershwin, this book was quite informative for me. However, I had a tough time trying to keep up with the other assorted family members of the author. It was strange that she would write at first about her father and then eventually make it back to Kay Swift and George Gershwin. My husband, who grew up in NYC and knows a lot more about these people also found that strange. Somehow it seems backwardsmore
    This book was a challenge and a chore to finish. I typically enjoy memoirs, but this seemed a dramatization of family dysfunction and less about the relationship between Gershwin and Swift. Additionally, the writing style was disjointed and the name-dropping was tedious. Should a reader in the 21st century know social figures of the 20's, 30's & 40's? Even the title falls into pretentious name-dropping, as George Gershwin is a minor character in the overall memoir.more
    This book wasn't my favorite but it was ok. It tells an interesting story about a truly fascinating family and all their dysfunctions but there are so many references to different people that the reader gets lost in the who's who.I would have enjoyed this book more if there wasn't so many people mentioned and there was more written about the main characters.more
    This was a librarything giveaway. Katharine Weber does a good job putting together the eccentric,more
    I love to read biographies of dysfunctional families, and this is one dysfunctional bunch! The book started out with Katherine Weber's memories with her father and quickly branched out to other members of her family. I have to admit looking up photos of quite of few of the cast of characters and using IMDB.com to look up others. While parts of the book were quite interesting, others seem longed and drawn out. The pages of her father's FBI files seemed endless, and others just seemed to be edited. But yet parts of the story were wonderful. The "aromarama" anecdote was quite hilarious, and I wonder what her father, Sidney Kaufman, would have thought about the use of smells at Disney World and the lot now. Aromarama, was a method her father was involved with whereas smells would be paired in key scenes of a movie to add to the viewer experience, for example someone would peel an orange and an orange smell would be piped into the theater. But alas, the results were not what they expected. And I thought this was a new thing! One more note, I was completely confused at who was who, and the family tree at the front wasn't much help. All-in-all a pretty interesting read but one where I wish I knew the characters better, since I would have enjoyed it a bit more.more
    This book mainly disappointed me but I found some of the information interesting. The first 122 pages were uninteresting and disjointed. I kept wondering when the author was going to get to Gershwin and why I cared about her childhood and father. I also thought that Weber “whined” a lot. Poor me that my father wasn’t always around and my mother wasn’t the best, or at least what she wanted her to be. (I would suggest she look at memoirs like The Glass Castle or Angela’s Ashes for people who didn’t have parents with good parenting skills.) And then she also “whined” because there was little inheritance because of her grandmother’s divorce settlement, and hoped that Angela would leave her daughters something even though the communication between her and Angela and Weber’s father was very limited. She even admits to being glad to have the excuse of a new baby to not visit her father when he was dying.I have always been a big Gershwin fan and I liked reading about him and Kay Swift. I must admit to not knowing about Ms Swift and this book has encouraged me to learn more about her as a composer. There were many times when Weber made excuses for happening, just not believing it could be so. She had correspondence from her grandmother’s friend but she did not seem to have much more outside information to rely on and then just excerpts from other sources. I am not sure I would have finished the book if I had not received it as an Early Review. It was disjointed, difficult to follow and with many characters that seemed to have little to do with George Gershwin and/or Kay Swift and if there was a thread of connection it was very tenuous. The few pages on Joseph Swift are an example of stretching why Kay might have done something. At the end of the book, my thought was that I really didn’t care about any of the characters and it had done very little to enrich my life and gave me only a slight bit of information I might find useful.I rated it 3 stars for the small amount of information on Gershwin and Swift’s musical career.more
    I like memoirs/biographies. And, I liked this one. It gave an interesting look at what life was like in the 1920's, 1930's, and 1940's for those who ran with the Broadway and songwriter crowd. But, because of the title, I expected to learn a lot more about George Gershwin from this. Gershwin actually plays a rather small part in the total book.Except for that disappointment, I did really enjoy this book. It was fun reading about the eccentricities of the author's family.more
    I had never read a title by Katharine Weber and immediately enjoyed her way with words, and yet the title was misleading as it was more about the family dysfunction than the relationship between Gershwin and Swift. Weber's description of the people involved within the 30's, 40's and 50's time frame was interesting but some of the facts didn't ring true for the lack of information (i.e., destruction of memorabilia per Swift's request).It was easy to read but not one I wanted to pick up and finish.more
    There is no denying that author Katharine Weber came from an extraordinary family. As a group, they seem to have possessed more than their share of wealth, talent, and a penchant for infidelity. Much of the well-written, engaging narrative emphasizes Weber's father, Sidney Kaufman, an unreliable dreamer who hovered on the fringe of the motion picture industry, full of grand plans that never came to fruition. The remainder focuses on Kay Swift, the author's maternal grandmother, a gifted musician and composer of songs that have become standards. Torn between her love for her husband and her love for George Gershwin, she lost them both.There is less about Gershwin than the subtitle suggests, but considering that he wasn't actually part of the family, it is not surprising that he does not figure prominently in the narrative. His fans may be most interested in recent, little-publicized speculation concerning the probable cause of the great composer's death.The Memory of All That is entertaining, but I am not likely to read it again. It renewed my gratitude for my ordinary, celebrity-free, faithful family, and it reminded me that the memoir genre is not one I truly enjoy.more
    I do not like to give negative reviews but I did not enjoy this book. Although one review described it as "elegant sin" I found nothing elegant about it, just members of her family having affairs. I guess the fact that her grandmother had an affair with a famous person was supposed to have made it interesting. The author was constantly berating her father and seemed to have no use for him and yet it seemed that over half the book was about him. The sequencing seemed to be disjointed-she would be talking about her grandmother and then something about her father would come up again.I do like the author's style of writing- very easy to read, but I just did care for this one book.more
    I found this book somewhat diverting, but for the most part it was a disappointment for me. I'm not sure if one can totally blame the author - it is marketed as if the main focus is on George Gershwin and Kay Swift, but their affair is not a big part of the book. Moreover, the author doesn't really know much about it. I would characterize this book more accurately as: A Memoir About Me and My Family, Many of Whom Were Rich and Famous and Therefore You Probably Heard of Them So You May Find This Interesting. It is also probably more about her father, Sidney Kaufman, than anyone else, but like many daughters, the author doesn't really know much about him either; she learned a lot of what she reports from requesting his FBI files!The writing isn't bad, but there is not much insightful or analytical. Nor is there much to be learned about Swift and Gershwin. Most of the story is lost to history; Kay asked Ira Gershwin to destroy all of their pictures and letters, and she destroyed her own collection as well. The author didn't have much additional knowledge of her own, especially of Gershwin. A notable exception is information she learned about Gershwin's disease and death recently reported in 2011 by Mark Leffert. That small section of the book was definitely important. Less impressive are the liberties taken by the author with the little pieces of information she remembers or reads about. In one instance, she makes the outrageous claim, in contradistinction to much evidence, that Martha Dodd - the daughter of the American Ambassador to Germany in the 1930’s and someone with whom the author’s father had an affair - became disillusioned with the Third Reich “when Hitler didn’t write or call”. Meanwhile, she criticizes Ron Chernow who, in his book The Warburgs, made some observations about the author’s family she disputes. But at least he based his assertions on interviews with family members (who, it should be added, are not family members whose accounts the author considers reliable, but I got a “he said, she said” feel over the dispute).I’m such a fanatical Gershwin fan, I’ll take what I can get. But still, The Memory Of All That could also have been called, The Memory of A Bit of That.more
    The only person I knew about was Gershwin and thought that this was a book about his life. I knew nothing of the other people, and at times lost track of who was related to whom. It seems that everyone was sleeping with everyone else and no one seemed to care. My thought was who would even care. The book was interesting when it delved into the creation of the musicals. I received this through LibraryThing to review.more
    This is an interesting book about many of the movers and shakers of the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening scene of a daughter and father swimming in the ocean, and the feeling of uncertainty on the part of the daughter. Many of the scenes convey the emotions of a young girl and her feelings of insecurity. This is an enjoyable book.more
    Having previously read Katharine Weber's moving novel Triangle, I was thrilled to receive this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. The Memory of All That is a memoir of Weber's family. Or, to be specific, the family's legacy of infidelities, many of which occurred on a grand scale.Weber's grandfather was James Warburg, of the international banking family. Her grandmother was Kay Swift, the talented composer, pianist and arranger. Swift worked with George Gershwin for many years, and was involved with him romantically for ten years, until his untimely death in 1937. Swift had divorced Warburg to be with Gershwin, and this involved leaving her three daughters in the care of their father. Swift and Warburg's middle daughter, Andrea, was Weber's mother.Weber's father was Sidney Kaufman. Sidney and Andrea married in 1948 when he was 38 and she was 26. They had two children; Weber's brother was born in 1951 and she was born in 1955. Weber was named for her grandmother Kay, and they shared a special bond that lasted until Swift's death in 1993.Sidney Kaufman remained a mystery to his wife and children for most of their lives, and the Memory of All That delves into the mysteries and fabrications surrounding Kaufman. Kaufman was, peripherally, in the movie business. Although he had aspirations to be a producer, the only verifiable film work he actually did was to insure completion bonds. Kaufman disappeared from his family's home in Forest Hills, Queens for days, weeks, or months at a time. The family did not know know where he was, or when he would return. As it turns out, he was seriously involved with a number of other women throughout his marriage to Andrea. For her part, Andrea put up with this poor treatment. Although she herself was a talented photographer, and also had income from the Warburg family, she never considered leaving Sidney.Being from New York, and being very close in age to Weber, I find her memories of her early years accurate and evocative of the place and time. Although the book is based on her own family, she has not relied so much on family stories and memories. She has done a tremendous amount of research into her own family history. Where the book falls short, in my opinion, is where Weber tries to give some explanation or motivation to someone's actions. She clearly cannot know what was in someone's mind at a certain point in time, and the conclusions feel contrived and condescending.Overall, I do recommend this book. It is well researched, and well written. Weber's family is interesting and intriguing. Muchmore
    The Memory of All That by Katherine Weber was disappointing. It was really split into two stories.The first half was about Katherine's childhood and her family and the second half was about the long affair (ten years) that her grandmother, Kay Swift had with George Gershwin.My main criticism is not about the morality of her relatives, I figure she is just telling what happened, but the lack of editing. There were times that the book just told too much about her family. So much so that it got to be boring. Then something interesting would pop up and later it would go back to being tedious. This book would have really have been improved by an impartial reader cutting out the unnecessary and repetitious parts. I know that the author love coffee, because she told me three times! If the tedious had been edited out this would have been a great book.Her father was an interesting rascal. He seemed to go out of his way to be a horrible father, like making promises and not keeping them. I really want to tell you more about him, but you might want to discover that for yourself. Her mother pampered as a child never learned to cook and seemed just not to know how to be a mother. I learned some intriguing facts about George Gershwin and would like to read more about him.Now the tough question, would I recommend this book? Yes, because of Katherine Weber’s unusual family and no because it should have left out chunks of boring and repetitious parts.I received this book from Library Thing and that in no way influenced my review.more
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