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.
©2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc. (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Listened to the audio book as my chosen format and maybe the long length referred in negative reviews makes the case for listening. Though many of us will never know much at all about our ancestors so brutally killed, Daniel's sharing of his journey brings the truth to us in painful and funny and in educational mixtures so we, too, will feel closer in spirit to family never to be known but always loved. Thanks, Daniel
"Exquisite Narration, Breathtakingly Heartfelt Book"
This book from a man, a scholar and Classicist, who has spent his life looking back, who travels the world to find the stories of his uncle, aunt, wife and four daughters, reads like a memoir, a detective story, a moral fable, even a romance. It is well-paced and engaging to the point that I put my life on hold just to keep finding out: And then what?
Everyone becomes a fully fleshed-out person: the lost; the old man in Poland who remembers, "The whole town was talking about it; the bodies were there the next day;" the woman in Australia who remembers it all but will die if she has to talk on record; all the way to Mendelsohn himself whose memories range from the childlike to the full-blown, in-your-face.
There are what seem to be digressions for stories from the Torah, from history, from Greek tragedies, but all come to a point. The summations are so beautiful, and the relevance so pointed that they are beyond moving. Simply stunning. Simply lovely.
And Pinchot gives voice to it all, the love, the frustration and anguish, the chuckles and joy. No, really, I mean it. This is the most dramatic, most perfectly nuanced performance I've comes across all year. And trust me, I'm an audio-fanatic. I listen to books like it's the air I breathe.
Brilliant book. The re-imagining of what happened to 16 year old Ruchele will make you cry.
And you'll be grateful to bring her to life for at least that moment. Because despite the horror, at least she was breathing.
She was alive.
"Lost in Parentheses"
I was about half way done with this book when I decided to put it aside for a while. This is dangerous because it means I might not ever pick it up again to finish it, but you never know…
The book was not easy to get through. Not because of the difficult subject matter, Holocaust stories and memoirs are never really easy to read, but rather because of the writing style.
The content was great, I have nothing to critique there… and really, how can you critique a person’s personal memories or recollections? I actually found this story more heart-rending than many of the other books I’ve read of the Holocaust. The author really knows how to connect and make the reader contemplate things deeply. He is very skilled at conveying the mood and feel of the scenes, it was very poignant.
My complaint is that the book needed some serious hard-core editing. As good as the narrative may have been, it was so full of tangents and ramblings; it veered off course so many times I found it very difficult to follow.
Another Goodreads reviewer describes it perfectly: “Mendelsohn never used one comma in a sentence where he could insert three or four. I was often lost in sentences wandering through parenthetical phrase after parenthetical phrase until I had to back up and take them out in turn in order to tack the beginning of the sentence onto the end and make some sense of the thing”.
I listened to the audiobook and had the same experience. I didn’t rewind much to gain better clarity because had I done so it would have taken me about a year to get through the book.
When the author stayed put it was interesting, so if you have the patience to slog through the whirlwind more power to you!
"The Lost was worth finding"
Stories about the 6 family members killed by the Nazis start a man and his family's search back into the past to find anything about these 6 people and their lives. Travelling around the globe talking to anyone they can find that was there and could fill in the holes. Trips to Australia, Israel, and to the town where it all took place. Conflicting stories and sometimes fading memories mixed with documentation and eyewitness accounts. An amazing journey of discovery and recovery. This one will stay on my mind for quite a while.
Even though the book sometimes meandered a bit, I enjoyed some of the strayings and felt they added to the tone and feel of the book. By the end, these 6 were no longer statistics but people I cared about, wanting to find out even more of their stories and what happened.
Bronson Pinchot was fantastic performing this book. All the voices and accents brought the story to life.
""AS LONG AS SOMEONE REMEMBERS YOUR NAME, YOU ARE NOT LOST""
This story is so true. As a history lover and the eldest who remembers my Grandparents born in the late 1800's, my father born in 1915, me born in 1951, my daughter born in 1980 and finally my grandson born in
2003 it is up to me to tell all their stories so they will remain and not part of the LOST ONES. Thank you for showing me those histories and lives can be made alive and worth remembering. This wonderful and sad book is in a way the story of not only one family but the story of all of us and how important it is to keep looking back one last time!
"Harrowing but riveting"
A fabulous but heartrending account of the search for 6 ancestors who simply disappeared during WWII. It is well structured and well written. Although the Biblical references seem to be a little pedantic and tedious they do make sense and give the listener reason to pause and reflect on how the narrative reflects on them personally.
The reading was superb except for the Australian accent which sounded more Cockney. This distracted me for a while until I realised what it was supposed to be
Any one who is interested in history, WWII, Jewish history or simply family research would appreciate this book
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