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A moving and true tale

first review
5out of 5

by SANF on April 12, 2007

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.
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Reviewed by SANF

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