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2006 non-fiction book by Daniel Mendelsohn

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Truly one of the most remarkable stories I have ever read.

  • Nov 26, 2008
This really was like looking for a needle in a haystack.  Nearly six decades after the Nazi's exterminated six members of his family, author Daniel Mendelsohn set out to discover just what had happened to them.  All that he really knew was that his grandfather's brother Shmiel, his wife and their four daughters had disappeared off the face of the earth sometime in the early 1940's in their home town of Bolechow in Poland.  By the time Mendelsohn decided to pursue this project in 2000, his grandfather had passed away.  All the author really had was a handful of letters and a few family photographs. And so began this remarkable journey that would take Daniel Mendelsohn around the world and require more than four years of his life. "The Lost:  A Search for Six of Six Million " is the compelling account of this odyssey.  It is a book that I like so many others who have written reviews here simply could not put down.

Although we all have heard stories about the Holocaust since we were children it can be difficult to comprehend the true scope of the genocide.  Of course we are all appalled that six million Jews lost their lives but the magnitude of the crime really hits home when you learn about what actually happened in the town of Bolechow.  In his travels, Mendelsohn discovered that prior to 1939, more than 6000 Jews called Bolechow home. And by the time the World War II concluded in 1945 only 48 Jews had survived!  The genocide rate in Bolechow was 99.2%!!!  At the same time, you cannot hope to understand just what happened there without a firm grasp of the extremely complicated political situation that existed in the town among the Poles, the Jews and the Ukranians. Daniel Mendelsohn does a marvelous job of painting that picture for his readers.  When he began this project in 2001, Mendelsohn really had no idea how many survivors he might be able to locate.  It turns out that there were a dozen.  Mendelson would have to travel to such far flung places as Israel, Stockholm, and Sidney, Australia to interview these people.  He would visit Bolechow twice.  Slowly but surely he was able to piece together the incredible story of how these long lost relatives had lived their lives and how they had died. It is a story I will not soon forget.

"The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million" is a beautifully written book that will hold your interest from cover to cover.  You will discover that these events were often a lot more complicated than they might appear.  This is an important book that deserves your time and attention.   Highly recommended!
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July 09, 2010
The Holocaust was a turning point in human history, where genocide became industriallized and scientifically efficient, and created a horror the world has never known. I am grateful that more research has been done to keep this topic current as the last witnesses are now passing away, and soon no one alive will be able to testify to the atrocities. Most haunting is the title; apart from the terrible suffering of those victimized, who is to say what talent has been lost from the world forever by their collective murders.
April 13, 2009
I'm putting this on my reading list!
April 13, 2009
I agree that this is a wonderful story. I have given out 8 or 9 copies as gifts. There is also interesting biblical commentary as well. Good review.
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Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
This is another classic to be added to the Holocaust Museum and Shoah Foundation files created by Steven Spielberg. Never before and hopefully never again will mass extermination occur--on this level, although "ethnic cleansing" continues to occur, as exampled by Rwanda, the Serb-Croat Wars...
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Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Book Description


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, ...

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ISBN-10: 0060542977 (hbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780060542979 (hbk.)
Author: Daniel Mendelsohn
Genre: History
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date Published: September 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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