A Dream, Shadows and Fulfillment

by Henry Bretton

"Upon arrival in New York, the immigration officer praised my greeting and talking to him in English, expressing his wish that all immigrants would do likewise."

The author of this wide-ranging autobiography began his life in humble status as the son of a single mother in Berlin, Germany, in the midst of World War I. Unable to support him adequately, his mother put him in foster care with a kind, loving couple until she married and could help shape her son’s future. More than anyone in his life, she provided the dream of the book’s title, believing that Bretton would one day become a university professor. Then the shadows fell—Germany became a dangerous place for someone like Bretton, whose birth father was Jewish. To help him emigrate quickly, his mother located a distant relative in the United States. Skilled in several languages, the author enlisted in the US military and served in the US Secret Service, then known as the OSS. After the war, the GI Bill provided the education he had longed for, allowing him to get a Ph.D. He became an internationally noted professor, teaching all over the world—Europe, Africa, and the US—and experiencing the fulfillment of his childhood hopes.

Written in a clear chronology, the author highlights his fascinating wartime exploits, his academic career, his travels, and his current life as a centenarian. He explores the enigmatic world of espionage, the joys and sorrows of his long marriage, and the many times in his life when luck or intuition saved him from critical missteps. His erudition is evident in his writing style and in his distinguished status as chronicled in an appendix citing his many academic and military honors, his publications from 1946 to 1986, his public service, and an exchange of letters with President Barack Obama. A look at the world during two cataclysmic conflicts, Bretton’s book is the heroic, upbeat memoir of a remarkable survivor.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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