Back cover text:
"I'm not Nebuchadnezzar, and I'm not MacBeth." So who am I? Chicago, Nairobi, Jerusalem, Cambridge, Edinburgh: the geography of Jenni Calder's life is as diverse as the ethnic, intellectual and emotional components.
Jenni Calder has spent a lifetime in search of her identity, first as a daughter and sister, then as a writer, wife and mother. Not Nebuchadnezzar is a biography of sorts, a chronicle of the consuming search for that elusive concept known as 'identity'.
Highly respected biographer of Robert Louis Stevenson, poet and historian, Calder has chosen an intriguingly elliptical, thematic approach to writing her own vividly presented life story. Keenly observed cameos of people and places abound but although this moving book is infused with a sense of mischief and fun, at heart it is a wise contemplation of life. Jenni Calder's retrospect describes a life well-lived, full of event and achievement, love and loss, aspiration and frustration. If you know who you are not, do you then know who you are?
Jenni Calder was born Jennifer Rachel Daiches to a Scottish-born mother and English-born Jewish father in Chicago, one of America's great melting-pot cities. Not Nebuchadnezzar traces her journey from then to now. Through this book, Calder discovers that her true sense of identity can only develop from finding out who she is not. Here she balances her multiple identities to throw kaleidoscopic prisms from a single source - herself.
...a touching and highly resonant account of what it means to have several identities... This is an intelligent, personal, yet universal tale. The Scottish Standard , 20th April 2005
...explores aspects of her life in a series of lucid, thoughtful essays which examine the concept of identity. Feature in The Scotsman, 16 April 2005
...absorbing memoir...sketches of a brilliant and very unusual family...one of the book's strengths that she revisits them [the high points and the low points of her life] with a clear eye. ...This is a nicely-written and very interesting memoir. It's also nicely packaged... Sunday Herald, 1 May 2005
Calder's wondrous way with a pen... Not Nebuchadnezzar is a curious blend of personal self-analysis and more prosaic passages of travel writing, but somehow it works... Calder observes and describes the people and places important to her ever-changing quest for identity this considered and unusual book ... Calder's memoir...demonstrates a consistently high level of fine, emotive writing and makes hers by far the more memorable. The Herald, 7 May 2005