The Lost

The Lost

A Search for Six of Six Million

Book - 2006
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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.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, c2006
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780060542979
0060542977
Branch Call Number: 973.049240092 Mende 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 512 p. :,ill
Additional Contributors: Mendelsohn, Matt

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SallyLaslie
Dec 19, 2016

The author writes in a very engaging manner and the story that he tells is important. Unfortunately the publisher failed to offer any decent or obviously effective editorial advice and so the reader is snowed with an avalanche of extraneous information about peripheral characters who take the book in a dozen or more different confusing directions. After a time you are left wondering why we are hearing about this friend of a cousin whose boyfriend's uncle does x or y or z. Creating context is important, surely, but not to the detriment of main focus of the book.

The book needs to have two hundred or more pages of text eliminated in order to highlight
the catastrophic devastation that the Nazi and Soviet occupations brought in their horrible wakes and to the members of the author's more immediate family members!

AL_ANNAL Aug 08, 2016

Mendelsohn writes with integrity and brilliance the story of his search for the fates of family members who perished in WW II.

ChristchurchLib Apr 14, 2014

"The Lost is both a memoir of author Daniel Mendelsohn's life and a biographical tribute to his great-uncle and his family, lost in the Holocaust. As a youth in the 1960s, Mendelsohn could learn no details about their deaths, so in 2001 he decided to find out exactly what happened to Shmiel, his wife, and his four daughters. Mendelsohn collected information about Shmiel's life and relevant information about the Holocaust and visited Shmiel's home in Polish Bolechow. Interspersed with accounts of what Mendelsohn learned are his reflections on portions of the Torah that shed light on the meaning of suffering. Reading this insightful work "recalibrates our perception of the Holocaust and of human nature," says Booklist." Biography and Memoir April 2014 newsletter http://www.libraryaware.com/996/NewsletterIssues/ViewIssue/43337901-34d1-4c84-b134-32954b837d7d?postId=71b729f6-9022-4878-baad-967f3a6f4063

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outside_grrl
Oct 16, 2013

There is a good story buried somewhere in all the Too Much Detail and run-on sentences that plague this story. Members of my book club and I agreed there was a lack of basic editing in the book. Then when I FINALLY reach the end, I see the author's note how his first editor passed away while he was working on the book. Can't help but wonder if the 2nd editor, stepping in after the 1st one died, felt too timid to tell the author what needed to be deleted or pared down.
The author insists on a blow-by-blow account of all his looking, interviews, travels, logistics, family discussions, and musings. Would be a great book if knocked off about 200 pages. And if he read the thing aloud to find those incredible run-on sentences and pare them down.

Molderic Aug 03, 2013

An overambitious try to make sense of six million (and by inference, 60 million) tragedies and their rippled perturbations through the world of the war and to us, their poorly informed descendants.
He (the author) strives to add fact to poetry, using repetition, remembrance, and research as he unfolds the clues, family dynamics, and the forces of horror that decimated some of his family. I think he needed a better editor, so that he would not have watered down the impact of what he found, perhaps by telescoping of eventsso as to deliver more punch.
I read this during vacation, trying to not be too depressed. My vanished family in Europe? I know nothing about them.

l
Liber_vermis
May 11, 2012

This 500-page chronicle is really two books. First, it is a how-to account of the author's search methods, travels and interviews, document recoveries, and reconstruction of the last days of his six Jewish relatives who were murdered in a small town in southeastern Poland during the Second World War. Second, this book is a personal memoir of the author's upbringing with an orthodox Jewish mother and a non-religious Jewish-heritage father; and his relationships with his siblings. This book is readable in spite of the interweaving of these two themes; the interjection of extracts from ancient religious texts; and side-tracks onto personal opinions of the author. A basic map of southeastern Poland at the time of the Second World War showing the towns mentioned in the book would have been helpful. An index would have been beneficial. The photographs should have been given captions.

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elinpat
Jul 21, 2011

incredibly moving search of author for 6 members of his grandfather's generation who did not leave Poland in time to escape the Nazis. Heart rending.a stirring detectibe work. Set in context of biblical stories of the torah and God's disinterest in the fate of the innocent. And the part that chance plays in history. Suspenseville, tragic and at times funny.

JCLMELODYK Oct 08, 2010

I highly recommend this wonderful story.

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Liber_vermis
May 11, 2012

Liber_vermis thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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Liber_vermis
May 11, 2012

Violence: There are descriptions of demeaning treatment, torture, and arbitrary killing of people that may be upsetting to readers.

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Liber_vermis
May 17, 2012

"... as I [the author] am a classicist ... I like to see things through the lens of Greek tragedy ... that real tragedy is never a straightforward confrontation between Good and Evil. ... The tragedy of certain areas of Eastern Europe between 1939 and 1944 was, in this sense, a true tragedy since the Jews of eastern Poland, who knew they would suffer unimaginably if they came under Nazi rule, viewed the Soviets as liberators in 1939, when eastern Poland was ceded ... to the Soviet Union; whereas the Ukrainians of eastern Poland, who had suffered unimaginably under Soviet oppression during the 1920s and 1930s [suffering 5-7 million starved to death], viewed the cession of eastern Poland to the Soviet Union in 1939 as a national disaster, and saw the Nazis as liberators in 1941, when the Germans invaded and took control. (p. 456)"

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