At Random/Dear Donald

Sun Apr 7 16:17:22 EDT 2002

I haven't yet seen DEAR DONALD, DEAR BENNETT, but I've read 
the original letters in the Bennett Cerf collection at 
Columbia University Library and found them fascinating.  
Cerf and Klopfer were lifelong friends as well as business 
partners, and the correspondence reflects the warmth of 
their friendship.  It also served to keep Klopfer in touch 
with the business while he was stationed in Britain during 
the war.  Klopfer applied for a commission in the Air Force 
after Pearl Harbor and served as an intelligence officer 
with a heavy bomber squadron in the Eighth Air Force.  It 
was the job he wanted, and when he stopped by Random House 
to say his final goodbyes before leaving for London, Cerf 
thought he looked "happier and more excited than I have ever 
seen him in my life before."  Klopfer was 39 when he entered 
the service. He was commissioned as a Captain and promoted 
to Major  Cerf was four years older and too old for military 
service.  In 1943 he stated, "I may as well face the fact 
that I am 45, that I am nearsighted as a bat, and that 
somebody has got to keep Random House rolling along." 

The correspondence is full of business details.  I found 
this information fascinating.  Not all of it is about the ML 
but much of it is.  The ML still accounted for the largest 
part of the firm's business at this time.  There's also a 
certain amount of gossip about authors and literary figures 
that Klopfer encountered in London.  I don't know what 
portion of the letters ended up in the book, but I thought 
the letters were especially valuable in terms of what they 
tell us about the friendship of the founders of Random House 
and in terms of the perspective they give on the war and how 
the war affected a still young and growing business like 
Random House.  There's also plenty of information about the 
ML and RH.

I'll have to pick up a copy straightaway!



---- Original message ----
>Date: Sun, 07 Apr 2002 14:07:44 -0400
>From: j b krygier <jbkrygie at>  
>Subject: At Random/Dear Donald  
>To: ModLib List <modlib at>
>Hi ModLib folks,
>Read a review in the local paper this morn of the reissued 
>"At Random: Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf" and a new 
>of Cerf/Klopfer letters called "Dear Donald, Dear Bennett" 
>cover).  The letters were written in 1942-5 while Klopfer 
was in
>Europe (Army) and Cerf back in the US.  As most of us know,
>Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer were the founders of Modern
>Library and Random House.
>"At Random" is a good read for ML fans, with a liberal dose 
>ML info (along with alot of other info about Random House 
>literary events in the 20s-60s).  I have not seen "Dear 
>Dear Bennett" - the review in the paper found it a bit too 
>on practical matters ("five hundred Tacitus this week" - 
quoted in
>the paper) but those are probably just the kind of things 
ML folks
>would enjoy.
>If any one has read the "Dear Donald..." book do post a 
book report
>on its relevance for ML fans -- or if you have comments 
on "At
>Random" for those of us who have not read it, do share.
>John K.
>j   b   k r y g i e r
>a s s i s t a n t  p r o f e s s o r  o f  g e o g r a p h y
>o h i o  w e s l e y a n  u n i v e r s i t y
>g e o l o g y  a n d  g e o g r a p h y
>d e l a w a r e  o h  4 3 0 1 5
>pho  740 368 3622   |   fax  740 368 3999
>jbkrygie at   |
Gordon B. Neavill
Associate Professor
Library and Information Science Program
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202
aa3401 at 

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