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Dear Donald, Dear Bennett

The War Time Letters of Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Donald Klopfer and Bennett Cerf had been partners in Random House for seventeen years, but Donald decided that he had to become a part of an even greater endeavor—the defeat of Nazi Germany. Not long after Pearl Harbor, Donald, who was then forty years old, took a leave from Random House and joined the United States Army Air Forces. He served for two and a half years, finally becoming an intelligence major in a B-24 group in England.

Donald and Bennett wrote to each other regularly all during that period. Bennett sent Donald long newsy letters about the book business—authors, sales, publishing gossip—as well as about what was happening in New York. Donald reacted in his wise, serene way to Bennett’s letters, and conveyed news of what was going on in the war, though sometimes censorship took its toll.

This is nostalgia with substance, and because these letters were never intended to be read by anyone else, they reveal, in a convincing and wonderful way, just how special these two men were and how that specialness was reflected in the company they founded.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 04, 2002 – "Will Random House be any fun at all as a 'big business' instead of our very personal venture?" wonders Klopfer in a 1944 letter to his fellow Random House founding partner Cerf. Many have wistfully asked similar questions since, and their nostalgia for "golden age" publishing will be piqued by this collection of letters Cerf and Klopfer exchanged during World War II. Klopfer joined the Air Force in 1942, at the age of 40, and became an intelligence officer based in England. Cerf, three years older, remained stateside and ran the show from the publisher's New York office. The two had worked closely together since they had bought Modern Library in 1925 and founded Random House two years later. During the war they wrote to each other frequently, exchanging opinions on manuscripts and trading news of colleagues and friends. Cerf keeps Klopfer posted on print runs, paper shortages and dinner parties, while Klopfer periodically breaks off the breezy shop talk with sobering reports of casualties and loneliness. Those looking for a literary tell-all will be disappointed: while the tone here is sometimes gossipy, readers will probably not recognize the names, or even many of the titles mentioned. Nor is there much detail about Klopfer's tour, presumably because the information was classified. What does emerge in these letters is a touching portrait of the authors' friendship. They signed their letters "Love," and allowed themselves good-natured ribbing, apparent generosity and open affection. How many co-CEOs today do the same? (On sale Mar. 5)
Dear Donald, Dear Bennett
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Mar 05, 2002
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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