'A gripping detective story, a stirring epic, a tale of ghosts and dark marvels, a thrilling display of scholarship, a meditation on the unfathomable mystery of good and evil, "The Lost" is as complex and rich with meaning and story as the past it seeks to illuminate. A beautiful book, beautifully written.' Michael Chabon In this rich and ...
'A gripping detective story, a stirring epic, a tale of ghosts and dark marvels, a thrilling display of scholarship, a meditation on the unfathomable mystery of good and evil, "The Lost" is as complex and rich with meaning and story as the past it seeks to illuminate. A beautiful book, beautifully written.' Michael Chabon 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 the fragmentary tales of a terrible betrayal, Daniel Mendelsohn sets out to find the remaining eyewitnesses to his relative's 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.
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I seem to be drawn to books about the Holocaust. I have read so many books about it that I've lost count. These book s are always frightening and treable sad, but the Lost Haunted me. The way theat Daniel Mendelsohn writes takes me breath away. As I was reading this book I kept finding myself reacing out and touching the words. The way he writes is so beautiful. I was so moved by his experinces and will always be greatfull the he shared his story with me. Thats what it seemed like, that he wrote this book just for me. It was very private and honest. In this acount of the Holocaust Daniel finds some letters from a relative that died during the second world war. He seems to be driven to find out what happend to them, and goes on a life altering journey to find them. Damiel treats his lost relative with so much respect and humanity. This book never seem to be politacal or judemental, he just tells the facts acording the the people who lived through the war. With every personal account he brings you one step closer to meeting his lost people. I was truley crushed when he fond out what did happen to them. It was painful to read and I'm sure even harder to write. He just did it so well. I never felt like he was feeling sorry for himself. He just needed to tell this story. I won't lie this story is hard to read, it gave me nightmares for months, but it also changed me. I wonder if I would have had the courage to help if I was in that situation. To risk my life for someone elses. I think that some of the people in this book felt feer in telling their story even today. I think that is such a tragedy, we really must never forget that the Holocaust did happen, and maybe by reading about what the surviers went through we can have empahty for eachother and not be so rash to judge on race or religion. I love this book and I'm sure I will go back to it again and again. His words will haunt you and make you want to live out loud!
Apr 12, 2007
A moving and true tale
The Lost is a beautifully written, meandering and ultimately very moving tale of one man's quest to fill in the outlines of six lives that were extinguished by the Holocaust. Mendelsohn has fulfilled the fantasies of many by writing a family history based on archival and oral research, which is at times riveting. Of course the author has gone much farther than most arm chair researchers by literally traveling around the globe. At times, the book is unbearably self-indulgent, at others, brutally honest. The author's forays into Jewish learning about the book of Genesis, did not, for me, enhance the author's quest for family truth, but rather existed in a parallel universe, which interfered with the narrative flow and could be skipped if found tiresome. Mendelsohn's approach to the State of Israel: apologetic at best, condescending at worst, interfered somewhat with my enjoyment of the book. Nevertheless, Mendelsohn did right by the living, the Holocaust survivors he met with along the way who cast light on the past, as well as by the members of his family who perished. For those interested in learning about the life (and not only the death) of the Jews of the towns of Galicia like the Mendelsohn family's Bolechow, Nobel Prize winner S.Y. Agnon's The Bridal Canopy does so in an authentic way, written by one who lived there and experienced Galicia before its destruction by pogroms and by Hitler. Those wanting a more scholarly treatment of the relationship between the Jews and the Polish noblemen who employed them, alluded to by Mendelsohn's grandfather's mention of Count (Graf) Potocki, should read Moshe Rosman's The Lord's Jews.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-07-24 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 J?ger, 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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