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The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of…
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The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century

by David Laskin

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With cinematic power and beauty, bestselling author David Laskin brings to life the upheavals of the twentieth century through the story of one family, three continents, two world wars, and the rise and fall of nations.
  HandelmanLibraryTINR | Sep 20, 2017 |
3.74/5 -- Goodreads
  KathrynD. | Jul 2, 2017 |
Laskin looks at 20c through its effects on one family (his) who begin in Russia (in the Pale on the Russia-Poland border) but go off in three directions: to US (NYC where they go from penniless immigrants to successful entrepreneurs, including one member who founds Maiden Form bras), Holy Land (as Zionists) , and a few who remain in their homeland (I haven't gotten to this part) and get swept into Holocaust from German occupation. The names are hard as there are multiple Chaim's in different generations or branches and many of the original names are changed once in US to Americanized ones (Herschel becomes Harry etc). The historical sweep as well as the unfolding of Jewish history in 20c is really informative (ESP for the likes of me). ( )
  flashflood42 | Apr 1, 2017 |
The premise of The Family, by David Laskin, sounds like the proverbial genealogical myth - "There were three branches of the family, one stayed in Poland, one went to the United States, and the third went to Isreal." However, I quickly realized that Laskin was using his vast trove of family letters, and researching and storytelling skills to tell the compelling story of a large Jewish family caught up in the major themes of the early 20th century; capitalism, fascism, mass migration, and assimilation. At times it is a difficult story to read as he has given faces and personalities to the victims of anti-semitism in the repeated pogroms and the holocaust. I came away from the book with a deeper feeling for the strength of this particular extended family with all their heartbreaks and triumphs.
  herzogm | Feb 17, 2017 |
Amazing book on many levels, and an important and fascinating family history. Details of the story can be found elsewhere in other reviews. David, the author, discovered branches and members of his family he didn't know he had, though his mother had told him some of the stories throughout his life. And what a story this is! This Jewish family, originally from the western fringe of the Russian Empire, are descended from Torah scribes who were highly regarded.

Over years and events, the family divided into three branches: one stayed in the homeland, one relocated to Palestine, considered the original homeland, and one branch emigrated to America, to New York. This varied and fascinating and loving family had all the characters every family has, and I loved every one of them with their different and real attitudes and talents.

The book is about what they endured, created, pioneered, suffered, held together, triumphed over, and so much more. This family participated in important times in history fully, unknowingly almost. Their instincts were good in many cases. In others, there were no choices. Does that sound familiar?

Excellent literary writing, and profound research. One of the most amazing efforts I've read involving global research of so many kinds. I say this without benefit of the maps that will be included in the final version. The story is mesmerizing.

Don't miss this remarkable book. I can't do it justice in a review because it's so rich in detail and characters and events. It's easy for a book about family history to be so-so. This book reads like a novel and is on the other side of everywhere from mundane. I cared what happened to these people. And who is that on the cover? I kept looking as I read, trying to discern which family this might be, and decided it was all of them, even though it's just 4 people. Maybe they will be identified in final copy.

Don't skip the Epilogue. It's just as interesting as the rest. This isn't just a family story -- it contains interesting, significant history on 3 continents.

David, this is a superb tribute as well as wonderful reading. ( )
  Rascalstar | Jan 21, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067002547X, Hardcover)

The author of the The Children’s Blizzard delivers an epic work of twentieth century history through the riveting story of one extraordinary Jewish family

With cinematic power and beauty, bestselling author David Laskin limns his own genealogy to tell the spellbinding tale of the three drastically different paths that his family members took across the span of 150 years.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century Laskin’s great-great-grandfather, a Torah scribe named Shimon Dov HaKohen, raised six children with his wife, Beyle, in a yeshiva town at the western fringe of the Russian empire. The pious couple expected their sons and daughters to carry the family tradition into future generations. But the social and political upheavals of the twentieth century decreed otherwise.

The HaKohen family split off into three branches. One branch emigrated to America and founded the fabulously successful Maidenform Bra Company; one branch went to Palestine as pioneers and participated in the contentious birth of the state of Israel; and the third branch remained in Europe and suffered the Holocaust.

In tracing the roots of his own family, Laskin captures the epic sweep of twentieth-century history. A modern-day scribe, Laskin honors the traditions, the lives, and the choices of his ancestors: revolutionaries and entrepreneurs, scholars and farmers, tycoons and truck drivers. The Family is an eloquent masterwork of true grandeur—a deeply personal, dramatic, and universal account of a people caught in a cataclysmic time in world history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:50 -0400)

Traces the history of the 20th century through the story of an extraordinary Jewish family, recounting how the author's 19th-century ancestors were separated by period upheavals in western Russia and went on to become the founders of the Maidenform Bra Company, pioneers in the contentious birth of Israel, and victims of the Holocaust.… (more)

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