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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Fred Jordan, Publisher of Taboo-Breaking Books, Dies at 95

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His father was arrested but later smuggled out of Austria and survived the war in the basement of a Belgian church protected by the bishop of Liège. Alfred’s older sister received a visa to the United States. His mother was interned in the Lodz ghetto in German-occupied Poland in 1940 and then transported to the Chelmno extermination camp.

Fred, as he was known, escaped Vienna as part of the prewar Kindertransport mission, which enabled thousands of children threatened by the Nazis to flee to Britain.

His formal education ended in the seventh grade. After that, he worked in a paper mill, enlisted in the British Army when he was old enough and, after the war, returned to Vienna, where he worked for a newspaper for American military personnel. He emigrated to the United States in 1949 with one suitcase and $30 in borrowed cash, only to have everything stolen on a train to Kansas City.

In 1951, he married Helen Manson; she died in 2012. In addition to their son, he is survived by a daughter, Lynn Jordan, and a grandson.

Mr. Jordan left Grove in 1977 to head the American division of Methuen, a British publisher. He later ran an imprint at Grosset & Dunlap before returning in the early 1980s to a financially ailing Grove Press, which had been sold and from which Mr. Rosset had been ousted.

Evergreen Review eventually ceased publication, but it has been periodically revived and is currently being published online. Grove Press merged with Atlantic Monthly Press in 1993 — a victim, in a way, of its success, having helped eliminate the taboos that had restrained more mainstream publishers. In 1990, Mr. Jordan left Grove again to become editor in chief of Pantheon Books, a division of Random House.

But no publishing experience replicated his voyage of discovery at Grove and Evergreen Review, he said in an interview with the literary journal Delos in 1988, comparing it to a science fiction movie in which aliens of greater intelligence than Earthlings anoint agents to prevent their minds from going stale.

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