Barbara Leimsner's new memoir
What readers are saying
“I loved this book . . . a raw and honest memoir. The author’s story-telling writing style makes it a very engaging read.”
“I could not put this book down. It is masterfully written with penetrating insight and the pacing of a mystery novel . . . told with both compassion and outrage.”
“Not your typical immigrant’s story . . . a real page-turner, both inspired and inspiring as well as a timely warning.”
“A fascinating story of discovery . . . as any book worth reading should, it will ask difficult questions, inform and haunt you.”
“The personal is nicely woven with the historical and the political . . . Like any good mystery, there are also some twists.”
October 1957. Mid-Atlantic. The author's father holds her shoulder, sister Marianne, six, stands at center, and her mother stands at right. The woman center back and her daughter are unknown passengers.
The Obligation to remember
How do otherwise decent people become mezmerized by a doctrine of hate? How can its grip be broken?
In seeking answers to these pressing questions for our times, the author confronts the past to discover how one ordinary man--her adored German papa--in his youth became thoroughly indoctrinated with Nazi ideology. Its hateful tentacles reached into her young life as he filled her head with beliefs about Aryan superiority, racist stereotypes, and conspiracy theories.
Leimsner sweeps the reader from immigrant working-class life in 1960s suburban Ontario, back to fascism's rise in her father's former Sudeten homeland and into war. As she weaves together the roots of her shameful inheritance, she also discovers deeper truths about herself--and the cure for hate. Read more
praise for Quitting the master race
"Touching. Enraging. Inspiring. All three adjectives are necessary to describe Barbara Leimsner's epic journey
to break the bonds of hate she encountered as a child . . . More than a personal memoir, this story . . . is also a siren call for justice and human solidarity. We would do well to listen." David McNally, Cullen Distinguished Professor of History & Business, University of Houston, Director of the Project on Race and Capitalism, author of seven books including the award-winning Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Race and Resistance.
" . . . part well-told memoir, part historical and psychological investigation . . . also the story of how a woman liberates herself from the shadows of the past and learns how to face them on her own terms." Axel Fair-Schultz, Associate Professor , History, SUNY Potsdam
" . . . an honest account of a woman's encounter with her family's past . . . told with remarkable candour, athis story is a compelling and moving addition to the literature of the postwar immigrant experience." Mark Langer, Retired Associate Professor, School for Studies in Art and Culture, Carleton University
“I highly recommend this fascinating and thought-provoking memoir.” Elinor Florence, author of the bestselling wartime novel Bird’s Eye View.
" . . . a moving story . . . and an evocative account of the blue-collar European working-class experience during Canada's post-war boom years. By connecting this story with the history of how fascism gained the support of ordinary people during the Great Depression . . . it alerts us to the growing dangers of our own time." David Camfield, Associate Professor, Labour Studies & Sociology and Criminology, University of Manitoba
"This powerful book examines history through the close-up lens of one family's story . . . this rich and cautionary story reminds us that lived politics are at once rational and emotional." Alan Sears, Professor, Sociology, Toronto Metropolitan University.
About The Author
Barbara Leimsner is a writer and activist based in Ottawa, Ontario. Her professional career includes more 30 years as a senior communications professional, award-winning magazine writer and managing editor, executive speechwriter and public speaker on creativity in communications. She received an Honours degree in Journalism/Political Science and a Masters in Canadian Studies from Carleton University. She has also been a long-time political activist on issues of feminism, anti-racism and social justice and lives in Ottawa with her partner Brian.