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The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

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The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million Cover

ISBN13: 9780060542979
ISBN10: 0060542977
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: None
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this rich and riveting narrative, a writer's search for the truth behind his family's tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic — part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly detective work — that brilliantly explores the nature of time and memory, family and history.

The Lost begins as the story of a boy who grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust — an unmentionable subject that gripped his imagination from earliest childhood. Decades later, spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939 and tantalized by fragmentary tales of a terrible betrayal, Daniel Mendelsohn sets out to find the remaining eyewitnesses to his relatives' fates. That quest eventually takes him to a dozen countries on four continents, and forces him to confront the wrenching discrepancies between the histories we live and the stories we tell. And it leads him, finally, back to the small Ukrainian town where his family's story began, and where the solution to a decades-old mystery awaits him.

Deftly moving between past and present, interweaving a world-wandering odyssey with childhood memories of a now-lost generation of immigrant Jews and provocative ruminations on biblical texts and Jewish history, The Lost transforms the story of one family into a profound, morally searching meditation on our fragile hold on the past. Deeply personal, grippingly suspenseful, and beautifully written, this literary tour de force illuminates all that is lost, and found, in the passage of time.

Review:

"As a boy in the 1960s, Mendelsohn could make elderly relatives cry just by entering the room, so much did he resemble his great-uncle Shmiel Jger, who had been 'killed by the Nazis.' This short phrase was all Mendelsohn knew of his maternal grandfather Abraham's brother, who had remained with his wife and four daughters in the Ukrainian shtetl of Bolechow after Abraham left for America. Long obsessed with family history, Mendelsohn (The Elusive Embrace) embarked in 2001 on a series of journeys to learn exactly what had happened to Shmiel and his family. The result is a rich, ruminative 'mythic narrative... about closeness and distance, intimacy and violence, love and death.' Mendelsohn uses these words to describe the biblical story of Cain and Abel, for one of the book's most striking elements is the author's recounting of the book of Genesis in parallel with his own story, highlighting eternal themes of origins and family, temptation and exile, brotherly betrayal, creation and annihilation. In Ukraine, Australia, Israel and Scandinavia, Mendelsohn locates a handful of extraordinary, aged Bolechow survivors. Especially poignant is his relationship with novelist Louis Begley's 90-year-old mother, from a town near the shtetl, an irascible, scene-stealing woman who eagerly follows Mendelsohn's remarkable effort to retrieve her lost world. B&w photos, maps. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Why memory? And why this particular memory that can only do harm, that can only cast doubt on man and his weaknesses? Why answer its calls and its silences? Why do we struggle so to remember, to bring back a past that shames not only creation but the Creator himself? Do we do it to suffer at second degree — with those and for those who suffered before? Or is it simply to know? To understand? Or,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"More than just the discovery of lost relatives, however, his journey serves as an exposé of the memory of those who mourn the dead and of the dead who have no one left to mourn them....[T]he book illustrates the enduring legacy of the Holocaust in contemporary Jewish life." Library Journal

Review:

"Mendelsohn's tenacious yet artistic, penetrating, and empathic work of remembrance recalibrates our perception of the Holocaust and of human nature." Booklist

Synopsis:

Mendelsohn grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust — an unmentionable subject during his childhood. Decades later, spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939, he embarked on a hunt for the remaining eyewitnesses of his relatives' fates. This is their story.

About the Author

Daniel Mendelsohn is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and many other publications. His books include the inter-national bestseller The Lost, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Prix Médicis in France. His other awards include a National Book Critics Circle Award for book reviewing and the George Jean Nathan Prize for Drama Criticism. He teaches at Bard College.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

xdancer, April 23, 2007 (view all comments by xdancer)
an extraordinary voyage through time, through family, through memory, through changes in geography and power and place names -- i could not put it down.

i felt as if i were being included in this voyage back into time (the loss of six members of his family, memory of whom had been so suppressed he didn't know their exact names or ages -- intrigued this man ) -- we follow him from childhood into manhood as he follows this path where it leads, sometimes dragging along slightly less enthusiastic siblings, yet somehow hearing the voice of his grandfather, long dead --

moving, a journey i wish i could follow for my own family --

absolutely gripping.
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(8 of 17 readers found this comment helpful)
poetry12, December 9, 2006 (view all comments by poetry12)
POETRY READING FROM THE LOST

Daniel Mendalstam?s reading from his book, ?The Lost? was an interesting event. Beyond the reading itself, there was much to be learned from the experience. To me, this reading had three main components: Daniel?s introduction of the book, the reading, and the Q&A. Each of these was a different way of experiencing Daniels work, but each was very helpful in fully comprehending his message.
Before Daniel began the reading, he gave a significant introduction to his book it the material it discussed. He described it as being the chronicle of his search to discover the fate of his mother?s relatives during the Holocaust. This seemed to be the surface level of the book, but on a deeper level he described it as being the story of ?how one becomes interested in one?s family and gets in touch with their own history.? Hearing this helped me to understand what Daniel felt was important about it own search and what it really meant to him, and also what he was trying to relate to other people. His comments in the introduction outlined themes and ideas that would be prevalent in the reading itself, and I found this information very helpful in terms of interpreting the actual reading. Having a preconceived notion of the themes he was writing about helped me to concentrate on how he was achieving this, rather than simply what he was trying to say.
There were several things the struck me about the reading itself. The writing had a strong sense of the stream of consciousness style, as if his writing was just thoughts pouring out of his mind. This was an effective way to illustrate many of the scenes he read, and forced me as a listener to pay very close attention so as not to miss any pivotal details. He was very descriptive in narrating scenes such as family gatherings, and being forced to kiss old people, occurrences that are common and easy to relate to. This was important for creating visual representations of the scenes, which was critical for comprehension and keeping track of the story, given that I didn?t have the pages in front of me. Another thing that struck me was his use of different accents in his reading. When he read a quote of his grandfather?s or some other relative, he would skillfully reproduce to accent with which the statement was originally made. I found that this really helped in bringing the characters to life, in a way that I could not have achieved reading the book on my own. I also noticed his use of repetition of certain key phrases, such as, ?unknown and unknowable?, and ?old Jewish people who cried at the sight of my face.? He would introduce the phrase, and then it would come up again in the reading, often with a great deal of space in between. These repeated phrases helped to tie the story together and draw strong connection between seemingly distant aspects of the story.
When the reading was finished, Daniel opened the floor to questions. This segment of the reading allowed me to understand more about Daniel himself, and also how others in the audience had reacted to the reading. I found it interesting that two of the aspects of Daniel?s reading that struck me, the stream of consciousness style, and the phrase repetition, had also been noticed by other audience members, enough so that they asked questions about these specific components. In both cases, Daniel noted that his use of these devices in his writing was conscious, and he explained the reasons for his use of each. Hearing his explanation for his choices gave me an even greater appreciation for these stylistic components, which even initially, had been very powerful to me. There were also questions about how Daniel?s literary background and training in the classics had affected his writing. Hearing his answers to these questions were very helpful in further understanding Daniel?s style and grasping his use of forms, such as the Greek practice of chronological storytelling interwoven with loops of the past to tell the complete story. It was Daniel?s opinion that being well read in the classics allowed him to have good perspective on the nature of the Holocaust and helped him in deciding how to deal with it in his writing. Hearing Daniel?s opinions on these matters gave me a deeper understanding of were his writing was coming from and for me, added a great deal of validity to his message.
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(9 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)
A R Pickett, December 1, 2006 (view all comments by A R Pickett)
Very engrossing, and chilling at times. By seeking the answer to the fate of six members of his extended family, Mendelsohn presents an intriguing commentary on family tensions and the twists of history.

Not easy going by any means, but still very readable.

One of the best books of 2006.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060542979
Subtitle:
A Search for Six of Six Million
Author:
Mendelsohn, Daniel
Author:
by Daniel Mendelsohn
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
Jews
Subject:
Holocaust
Subject:
Holocaust, jewish (1939-1945)
Subject:
General History
Subject:
Family
Subject:
Jews -- United States.
Subject:
Mendelsohn, Daniel Adam
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20060919
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
528
Dimensions:
9.26x6.52x1.51 in. 1.93 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » World History » Holocaust
Religion » Judaism » Holocaust

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million Used Hardcover
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Product details 528 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780060542979 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "As a boy in the 1960s, Mendelsohn could make elderly relatives cry just by entering the room, so much did he resemble his great-uncle Shmiel Jger, who had been 'killed by the Nazis.' This short phrase was all Mendelsohn knew of his maternal grandfather Abraham's brother, who had remained with his wife and four daughters in the Ukrainian shtetl of Bolechow after Abraham left for America. Long obsessed with family history, Mendelsohn (The Elusive Embrace) embarked in 2001 on a series of journeys to learn exactly what had happened to Shmiel and his family. The result is a rich, ruminative 'mythic narrative... about closeness and distance, intimacy and violence, love and death.' Mendelsohn uses these words to describe the biblical story of Cain and Abel, for one of the book's most striking elements is the author's recounting of the book of Genesis in parallel with his own story, highlighting eternal themes of origins and family, temptation and exile, brotherly betrayal, creation and annihilation. In Ukraine, Australia, Israel and Scandinavia, Mendelsohn locates a handful of extraordinary, aged Bolechow survivors. Especially poignant is his relationship with novelist Louis Begley's 90-year-old mother, from a town near the shtetl, an irascible, scene-stealing woman who eagerly follows Mendelsohn's remarkable effort to retrieve her lost world. B&w photos, maps. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "More than just the discovery of lost relatives, however, his journey serves as an exposé of the memory of those who mourn the dead and of the dead who have no one left to mourn them....[T]he book illustrates the enduring legacy of the Holocaust in contemporary Jewish life."
"Review" by , "Mendelsohn's tenacious yet artistic, penetrating, and empathic work of remembrance recalibrates our perception of the Holocaust and of human nature."
"Synopsis" by , Mendelsohn grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust — an unmentionable subject during his childhood. Decades later, spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939, he embarked on a hunt for the remaining eyewitnesses of his relatives' fates. This is their story.
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