“John and Margaret Randolph’s trip to Europe in 1938 seemed remote from all the political conclusions that might have been expected, and it was just before the Munich Pact, but his writing is an eloquent statement of how little ordinary Americans knew or thought about what was going on in the world at large. John was a mathematician, and became in addition to his research papers, a noted textbook writer.”
––Sanford L. Segal, Mathematicians under the Nazis (Princeton University Press, 2003)
“It really is a vanished world McBride’s parents were traveling through–at once so compellingly filled with menace and innocence. Germany especially was filled with what we now know as burgeoning evil, normal and banal—all of it underscored by McBride’s scrupulous annotation. Her father, as the narrator, sees it all and takes it in but nevertheless focuses his steady attention to the calmer and countable parts of life. What an orderly man and what an orderly mind!”
––Elizabeth Stone, Professor of English, Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University
“I found the book so engaging that I couldn’t put it down… Aside from the major historical events going on all around the American couple… my interest was also piqued by what was going on personally for them. In the attempt to discover the bigger picture, McBride did such a fine job.”
––Elizabeth Wilen-Berg, Psychologist and Holocaust Educator
”I find this book very compelling. I have to tell you, all due respect to the author, It’s not a book I necessarily would have picked up. And yet when I started reading it I really couldn’t stop. It’s the story of a daughter, the author, who when her father passes away, finds a journal that he kept while he and her mother, his young bride, traveled through Germany in 1938 and the things that they saw, and now she as a grown woman trying to understand and project what they might have thought, what they knew, what they didn’t know, what she now knows in retrospect. So it’s really a compelling read. And I think this is a book that is a real resource for teachers in the area.”
—-Carolyn Bennett, general manager, Village Square Bookstore, Hunter, NY, interviewed by Ann Forbes Cooper, WGXC-FM, June 28, 2011
From Amazon reviewers:
“What a unique and totally fresh book. John Randolph’s daughter (the author) finds notes that her (deceased) father had made during an exciting and historic visit through Europe just a year before the terrors of Hitler and Nazi Germany attempted to destroy it.
…You will feel the excitement as the author finds her fathers’ notes. Not only does she read and research them, she actually asks him about his feelings and what he might be thinking while making entries into his journal. Her method of writing brings pre WWII history alive to the reader.”
—-Raymond H. Mullen
“Why is a little book like this––a journal of a trip taken by a young mathematician and his wife in 1938––important? Probably for various reasons both large and small, historical and personal. Because Traveling Between the Lines is without question an important piece of scholarship.
…But Randolph’s trip journal only serves as a starting point for the real importance of this book. Because his daughter makes the necessary and important connections through her research. … McBride’s bibliography and chapter notes are filled with important sources that will beckon to any serious student of history.
… Rebecca McBride wrote this book because she wanted to know her father better. She ended up making a small but significant contribution to world history––one man’s dispassionate but detailed look at Europe in a small window of time just before the next world war.”
—-Timothy J. Bazzett
“This is a fascinating book, where the author has taken her father’s travel journal through Europe in 1938, added her own imaginary conversations with him, as well as some historical insights to explain to the modern reader the context in which her parents were travelling.
The journal itself is interesting, full of observations of daily life, the cost of things (John Randolph was a mathematician), travel’s dramas (lost bags) and to a degree the dawning of understanding that all was not going well for everyone in Europe. Rebecca’s comments are also lovely, drawing on her reminiscences of her relationships with her parents, and cherishing the memories that she is able to draw upon.
What is ultimately of major interest to me though, is her detailing of what was happening in the world at that time. She has cleverly overlaid the rise of Nazism and the persecution of the Jewish people through her father’s light hearted observations of the charming people he met and the tasty food that he ate.
… Overall it is charming, very readable, and a unique insight to how innocent life must have seemed when Europe teetered on the edge before falling into horror.”
In Chronogram Magazine/Books: Short Takes, February 2012:
Traveling Between the Lines: Europe in 1938
The Trip Journal of John F. Randolph and his Daughter’s Response
Epigraph, 2010, $17
Years after her father’s death, McBride found four tiny notebooks in her mathematician father’s distinctive handwriting, detailing her parents’ on-the-cheap steamer, train, and bike tour of Europe before she was born. What was it like to travel through Germany as Hitler rose to power? How much did they know? A fascinating dialogue with a vanished time and place.
Register-Star/Chatham Courier Article September 30, 2010
Troy Record Article January 6, 2011
A manuscript and list of related documents are available in the digital archives of Center for Jewish History (see the John F. Randolph Collection).