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The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by…
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The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (2006)

by Daniel Mendelsohn

Other authors: Matt Mendelsohn (Photographer)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (29)  French (3)  Dutch (3)  Danish (1)  Greek (1)  All (37)
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Daniel is very close to his mother's father, old-worldly, meticulous and the family story-teller. Daniel learns much from him but, of course, doesn't fully appreciate or understand this treasure until he is older. After his grandfather dies, Daniel researches basic family genealogy. Daniel wonders why such a good story-teller didn’t tell stories about his older brother, Shmiel, his wife and their 4 daughters.

Daniel decides to find and write Shmiel’s story. Over many years he performed multi-faceted research, studied family photos and letters, visited, and spoke with and interviewed family members as well as strangers from Bolechow who knew a little something about Shmiel, Esther or their daughters, or who had ‘witnessed’ or ‘heard about’ an occurrence to Shmiel, Esther or their daughters. Daniel pieced together not just their pre-mature, abrupt, horrific murders by the Nazis and Ukrainians but the beauty of their friendships and daily lives. Mendelsohn’s thoughts and feelings coalesced into a greater understanding of his grandfather’s hidden anguish and guilt, and the unwillingness to speak of Shmiel, the brother he couldn’t save.

Using analysis of the weekly Parshiot read in synagogue on Shabbat to counterbalance his family’s painful story is brilliant. Especially meaningful to Daniel are the Torah segments about divisiveness between brothers; perhaps because Daniel had broken his brother, Matthew’s arm when young. And perhaps because he realized the guilt his grandfather suffered.

I both enjoyed and was saddened by everything Daniel shared but did feel the book ran on too long. ( )
  Bookish59 | Feb 27, 2017 |
I read The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn a few years after it was first published in 2006. It was a very powerful book. I learned quite a bit. It was the kind of book that stayed with you. When Audiobook Jukebox offered a copy of the audiobook narrated by Bronson Pinchot, i requested it. It had been years since I read the book so I would refamiliarize myself with the story while enjoying the narration of Bronson Pinchot. It did not quite work out as planned.

Daniel Mendelsohn grew up surrounded by older relatives who survived the Holocaust either because they got out of Europe in time or by luck or divine intervention they survived the Nazi’s. Daniel knew this. He knew about the events of World War II. What he did not know if why elderly relatives would begin to cry when they saw him and mention he looked like a person Daniel did not know. Shmiel Jäger was Daniel’s great uncle. Shmiel, his wife, and four daughters did not survive the Holocaust. When they died, how they died and why they died were not know. The only know was “they were killed by the Nazis.”

The Lost is the story of Daniel learning of his lost family and as adult his quest to find them. They were not “killed by the Nazis” of meticulous records. They were not all killed at the same time or the same place. In his quest to find their fates, Daniel and his family learned an incredible amount. They learned about Ukrainians who turned in neighbors. They learned about Poles who hid Jews. They learned about the non-Jews who lost their lives trying to save lives. They learned about the unending cruelty that accompanied the last moments of so many people. The hardback edition contains photographs from the author’s family. There is a certain level of heartbreak, which thank whatever Gods you believe in we do not experience often, on seeing two smiling teen girls and knowing their death will come before they experience love, marriage, and motherhood.

When I read the book, it was powerful. I expected the audiobook to be the same. It was not. Bronson Pinchot’s narration is masterful and devastating. Pinchot is fantastic at the accents. Whether it is Daniel’s mother’s New York accent or his grandfather’s Yiddish, they are clear and believable. The voices, whether male or female, old or young, are very well done. He creates Daniel’s voice but he also creates so much more. He infuses every word with emotion. But there is a power within Pinchot’s narration that the listener must be prepared for. I was driving and thankfully could pull over for a moment. When Pinchot describes what they believe happened to his one relative, a teenage girl, who was rounded up by the Ukrainians at the direction of the Nazi authorities, held with a thousand other people, naked, without food or water or access to facilities, made to watch their rabbi have his eyes cut out and a cross carved on his chest, then taken to the forest where group by group they walked onto a plank over a pit, to be shot and if God was merciful, they died immediately; if not they lay wounded under covered by other bodies and eventually earth. That was difficult to read. Pinchot’s narration contains so much rage, sadness, and horror that it is devastating to hear. Bronson Pinchot should have the 2016 Audie just for that passage alone. If you have to chose between reading The Lost or listening to Pinchot’s narration, take the narration. The power of his performance will stay with you. ( )
  nhalliwell | Nov 13, 2016 |
The Lost is a very long and rich book, well worth the investment of time to read it. I'm not sure everyone would like The Lost as much as my husband and I do, but we both think it is superb and one-of-a-kind. In it, the author, a relative of a family of six who were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, in their little native town in Poland, represent the six million Jews who perished. Each had a specific personality and life story, and death story too, and Daniel Mendelsohn, a writer, out of curiosity, respect, and love for his grandfather, brother of the patriarch of the slaughtered family determines to find these things out and write them down. He succeeds to a large (and very moving) extent. So the book is the story of the six, and of the six million - it is a history, a multi-biography, a witness; it deals with the ups and downs of historical research, of the vagaries of language and the limitations of language, it tells of victims, survivors and unimaginable evil, it even goes back to the Bible to bring up the genesis faith stories. Really a wonderful book. ( )
  MarthaHuntley | Aug 31, 2016 |
This is a tough book to review - parts of it were as moving as anything I've read this year, but there was something about the author's style that dragged at times. The diversions into discussions of the Torah, the slightly odd foreshadowing of revelations to come and the sidetracking into stories that seemed irrelevant to me left me a bit frustrated. But in many ways it's a stunning read - the focus on the author's relatives provides something concrete that is often lost in the overarching horror of the holocaust. Some parts were almost unreadably upsetting and will haunt me for a long time. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
I read about 1/3 of the book; it just didn't hold my interest. I've read quite a few books about the holocaust, maybe too many. So, this just didn't do it for me. Too slow in the beginng for me maybe? ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Mendelsohn verdient grote waardering voor zijn intensieve speurtocht en zijn pogen leven en lijden van 6 van de 6 miljoen concreet vorm te geven, maar jammer is het dat hij in zijn weergave van ontmoetingen en gesprekken de eigen persoon te veel op de voorgrond plaatst, te vaak tussen de lezer en het eigenlijke verhaal in gaat staan en zich hierbij verliest in talloze en overbodige details. Deze kritiek laat de waarde van dit boek als een aangrijpend menselijk document echter onverlet.
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel Mendelsohnprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mendelsohn, MattPhotographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Frances Begley and Sarah Pettit
sunt lacrimae rerum
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Some time ago, when I was six or seven or eight years old, it would occasionally happen that I'd walk into a room and certain people would begin to cry.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060542993, Paperback)

Daniel Mendelsohn's The Lost is the deeply personal account of a search for one family among his larger family, the one barely spoken of, only to say they were "killed by the Nazis." Mendelsohn, even as a boy, was always the one interested in his family's history, but when he came upon a set of letters from his great uncle Schmiel, pleading for help from his American relatives as the Nazi grip on the lives of Jews in their Polish town became tighter and tighter, he set out to find what had happened to that lost family. The result is both memoir and history, an ambitious and gorgeously meditative detective story that takes him across the globe in search of the lost threads of these few almost forgotten lives.

A whole culture lies behind the story Mendelsohn tells, and a lifetime of reading as well. For our Grownup School feature, he has given us a tour of some of the books behind his own, in a list he calls 10 Great Novels of Family History, the Holocaust, New York Jewish Life (And Other Things That Helped Me Write My Book). And you can watch his own moving introduction to the book in this short video:


Watch Daniel Mendelsohn introduce The Lost: high bandwidth or low bandwidth

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:14 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The author describes how his family was haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust and how he embarked on a determined search to find the remaining eyewitnesses to his lost ancestors' fates.

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