"Family Declassified": Uncovering My Grandfather's Journey from Spy to Children's Book Author

Katherine Fennelly
Saturday, November 16, 2024 - 10:30am to 12:00pm
At your location, via
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Why do people keep deep secrets about their lives and ancestry?  In Family Declassified (Sunbury Press, 2023) Katherine Fennelly applied her expertise as a social science researcher to answer this question regarding her grandfather, a Jewish Hungarian immigrant who arrived in the US one hundred years ago and who became a high-ranking spy for the Allies in WWII. 

It took several years of reviewing previously unexamined government records and conducting personal interviews and genealogical searches to piece together the life of a man who hid his Jewish identity, the nature of his work as a spy, and the murder of his sister and nephew by Hungarian Nazis. The result is a manuscript that examines the nature of family myths and presents the gripping story of a man whose life was shaped by some of the most extraordinary events of the 20th century.  Please go to KatherineFennelly.com for order information, and to see the book group discussion questions. 

Katherine Fennelly is an emeritus professor of public policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs of the University of Minnesota with a Ph.D. from Columbia University, where she was on the faculty in the School of Public Health early in her career.  She
is an immigration policy expert whose work has taken her to many of the countries where her late grandfather lived out his adventures. She has studied and worked in Spain and Ecuador, and done consulting work and academic residencies across Latin America and Europe. Katherine is a voracious reader and a life-long student of languages. She discovered her family’s Jewish roots as an adult, something her Hungarian-American mother preferred not to discuss. When not tracking down classified documents and delving into family history, she volunteers for refugee service organizations, serves as a Spanish-English interpreter, and enjoys biking in Prospect Park and spending time with her daughters and granddaughters who live nearby in Brooklyn.