A Family Story of Books, War, Escape, and Home


Finalist for the Vermont Book Award

A sweeping portrait of the turmoil of the twentieth century and the legacy of immigration, as seen through the German-American family of the celebrated book publisher Kurt Wolff


I spent a year in Berlin exploring the lives of my grandfather and father—Kurt Wolff, dubbed “perhaps the twentieth century’s most discriminating publisher” by the New York Times Book Review, and his son Niko, who fought in the Wehrmacht during World War II before coming to America.

Endpapers tells of the journeys of these two German-born men turned American citizens, and my own quest to make sense of their stories amidst rising rightist populism on both sides of the Atlantic.

about the book

Praise for Endpapers

“Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Endpapers, at its heart, is an absorbing family history. But it is so much more than that, it is a haunting exploration of guilt and responsibility, of roots and new beginnings. Filled with stunning literary details that any bibliophile will cherish, this is an intimate and complex portrait of a remarkable family that also tells a wider story of Europe and America in the twentieth century. Endpapers is a treasure—a brave and moving book.”

—Ariana Neumann, author of When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains

Other Work

Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game (editor)

Made in America, basketball has become a national obsession whose rise as popular entertainment coincided with the ascendancy of new ways of writing about sports.

The Audacity of Hoop: Basketball and the Age of Obama

With five main essays, fifteen sidebars, an illustrated timeline, and more than 125 images, many from the lens of White House photographer Pete Souza, The Audacity of Hoop looks at Barack Obama, person and president, by the light of the game most closely associated with him.

Sports Saves the World

Visionaries around the globe are using athletics to tackle the most pressing problems of the developing world. Read this story and more of my work for Sports Illustrated.

Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure

Today we take the globalization of basketball for granted, but back in the late Nineties I hit the road to ask: What can the world tell us about the game? And what can the game tell us about the world? Revised and updated 20 years later.

World Class: Purpose, Passion, and the Pursuit of Greatness On and Off the Field (co-editor)

With Mark Mravic, I edited this collection of the work of our late, great Sports Illustrated colleague Grant Wahl. It features a foreword by Grant’s widow, Dr. Céline Gounder, as well as an introduction and headnotes that put each of these stories in context.

Alexander Wolff

Journalist / Author / Editor

After 36 years as a writer for Sports Illustrated, I now work out of a converted cow barn in Vermont’s Champlain Valley, mostly writing and editing books. I love to interact with readers, collaborate on events with bookstores, book clubs, libraries, and festivals, and otherwise affirm and spread literary culture. Books are in the family blood. And I enjoy talking with anyone about writing and the writing life, as well as that sweet spot where sports and society overlap.