The Passport as Home

Comfort in Rootlessness
Passport as Home by Andrei S. Markovits book cover
$22.95 / €19.00 / £16.00
Foreword by Michael Ignatieff
Publication date: 
August, 328 pages

This is the story of an illustrious Romanian-born, Hungarian-speaking, Vienna-schooled, Columbia-educated and Harvard-formed middle-class Jewish professor of politics and other subjects. Markovits revels in a rootlessness that offers him comfort, succor, and the inspiration for his life’s work. As we follow his quest to find a home, we encounter his engagement with the important political, social and cultural developments of five decades on two continents. We also learn about his musical preferences, from classical to rock; his love of team sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, and American football; and his devotion to dogs and their rescue. Above all, the book analyzes the travails of emigration the author experienced twice, moving from Romania to Vienna and then from Vienna to New York. 

Markovits’s Candide-like travels through the ups and downs of post-1945 Europe and America offer a panoramic view of key currents that shaped the second half of the 20th century. By shedding light on the cultural similarities and differences between both continents, the book shows why America fascinated Europeans like Markovits and offered them a home that Europe never did: academic excellence, intellectual openness, cultural diversity, and religious tolerance. America for Markovits was indeed the “beacon on the hill,” despite the ugliness of its racism, the prominence of its everyday bigotry, the severity of its growing economic inequality, and the presence of other aspects that mar this worthy experiment’s daily existence.

Foreword by Michael Ignatieff

Preface and Acknowledgements

Chapter One
Origins: The Virtues of Rootlessness

Chapter Two
A Paean to Tante Trude (Who Might or Might Not Have Been a Nazi)

Chapter Three
Four Friendships: Discovering America in Vienna

Chapter Four
Daphne Scheer, Real Madrid and Internazionale 
Milano (Inter Milan): The Personal Meets the Political

Chapter Five
The Rolling Stones Play Vienna (Resulting in Bodily Harm to the City’s Jews)

Chapter Six
Arrival in New York: The Dream Meets the Reality

Chapter Seven
Columbia 1968: How the World – and Andy – Changed in a Single Year

Chapter Eight
Kiki: Big Politics and Little Andy

Chapter Nine
The Grateful Dead: My American Family

Chapter Ten
Harvard’s Center for European Studies: The Interloper Finds a Home

Chapter Eleven
Dogs: The Rescuer Rescues Himself

Chapter Twelve
Germany: Admiration for the Bundesrepublik, Discomfort with Deutschland


"Markovits says his passport is his home. Yet there is an unmistakable warmth with which he describes the various academic institutions that have welcomed and supported him. He also describes the pleasures of discovering a new form of Jewish identity and learning to express that identity in ways that were unavailable in the Timişoara of his childhood. The 'un-belonging' he values does not seem to be the right description for his adult condition. Nor perhaps is 'rootlessness,' which suggests the lack of something life-giving and generative. Maybe we should see his story as one of gaining a new grounding in institutions and social bonds that could afford him the very independence and agency—in short, the freedom—he had long prized." Steven Lukes
"Perhaps the best that one may hope for sometimes is the richness of a life lived without such a destructive set of emotions, the worth of work that is grounded on logic and evidence, the support of people (as the author generously attests to in this memoir) from whom one can learn and with whom one can share insight and understanding. It is this record and these experiences, perhaps above all, which shine brightest out of this evocative memoir."
"The great Jew­ish his­to­ri­an Salo Baron defined the ​“lachry­mose school of Jew­ish his­to­ri­og­ra­phy,” that long litany of suf­fer­ing and per­se­cu­tion that for many defines Jew­ish life and his­to­ry. Andy Markovits’s mem­oir is the anec­dote to that school: a sun­ny, opti­mistic, and uplift­ing read. It doesn’t gloss over the sad­ness of post-War Europe, but it shows how that lost world could pro­duce a vital future and how a state­less, root­less per­son could nonethe­less turn that con­di­tion into a ful­filled life."
"If you want to meditate on topics such as Judaism, cosmopolitanism, history, soccer, dogs, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Columbia in the 60s, anything in between, a true tour de force of what I think an intellectual ought to be, someone alive in the world - you have to read The Passport as Home." Liel Leibovitz on the Unorthodox podcast