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Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures…
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Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million… (2004)

by Aaron Lansky

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6022916,282 (4.3)100
  1. 73
    Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages by Mark Abley (lorax)
    lorax: There are two obvious ways to go from "Outwitting History"; the other recommendations cover a specific interest in Yiddish. For a general interest in linguistic preservation and revival, "Spoken Here" is a fascinating read, including a chapter on Yiddish.
  2. 00
    Essential Yiddish books : 1000 great works from the collection of the National Yiddish Book Center by Zachary M. Baker (gangleri)
  3. 00
    Songs for the Butcher's Daughter by Peter Manseau (SqueakyChu)
  4. 01
    The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: After learning about the slow disappearance of Yiddish, grab hold of this book and learn a some Yiddish words and their meanings. All is explained with grace and humor.
  5. 01
    Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods by Michael Wex (aces)
  6. 01
    A Treasury of Yiddish Stories by Irving Howe (bertilak)
  7. 01
    History of the Yiddish language by Max Weinreich (bertilak)
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http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/11583495

Rather compusively readable, even though I found the author's voice a bit irritating. He did a nice job of interweaving fun stories with details of the history of Yiddish speaking and literature so it wasn't all just cute and heartwarming. By the end it did start to loose it's charm and read more like an annual report and his reasons for why in particular he felt that Yiddish books were important to save were never clear to me, even though he did explain it alot. But a good read, nonetheless.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
As a graduate in his young twenties, Aaron Lansky had a problem: he was studying Yiddish with friends, but there were no books. His grandparents' generation had books but they were dying out; his parents' generation had become so assimilated in America that they couldn't read them. So, Aaron put the word out and began collecting. Before he knew it, he had thousands of books and a dream of saving all of the Yiddish literature that he could.

Aaron Lansky's memoir is a great story of how he began saving Yiddish books, often quite literally from dumpsters, and preserved them for a new generation. His memoir recounts his adventures meeting people who had to pass on their inheritance of literature to him one story at a time, founding the Yiddish Book Center, and finding ways to get more books into the hands of young people. It's inspiring and funny by turns. It reads quickly for nonfiction, dragging a little for me in the middle, but generally page-turning good fun. ( )
  bell7 | Oct 26, 2013 |
00003347
  cavlibrary | Sep 6, 2013 |
This was a surprisingly well-written book, with stories that kept me interested, even fascinated, throughout! Lansky had to deal with a very wide range of issues, including marketing, fundraising, storage, domestic and international travel, and digitization, while working with people on an individual level, learning their personal histories at the kitchen table. I recommend this book very highly! ( )
  dukefan86 | May 29, 2013 |
Lansky’s autobiographical account of the creation and history of the National Yiddish Book Center in Outwitting History is all at once heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, and awe-inspiring. If die a little inside every time you see someone cavalierly throwing away an old book, then you will immediately identify with Lansky’s cause. Even as a non-Jew, I was deeply touched by the efforts he went through to save every Yiddish text he could.

http://lifelongdewey.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/002-outwitting-history-by-aaron-la... ( )
  NielsenGW | Jul 8, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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Aaron Lanskyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The phone rang at midnight. That wasn't unusual. Older Jews often waited until the rates went down before phoning me about their Yiddish books.
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Sometimes it seemed that Yiddish was a Rorschach test: Young people, especially, saw in it what they wanted to see. For atheists it was Jewishness without religion; for feminists, Judaism free from patriarchy; for those uncomfortable with Israeli politics, nationalism without Zionism; for socialists, the voice of proletarian struggle; for more contemporary radicals, a shtokh to the establishment.
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Book description
Lansky was a 23-year-old graduate student in 1980 when he came up with an idea that would take over his life and change the face of Jewish literary culture: He wanted to save Yiddish books. With few resources save his passion and ironlike determination, Lansky and his fellow dreamers traveled from house to house, Dumpster to Dumpster saving Yiddish books wherever they could find them—eventually gathering an improbable 1.5 million volumes, from famous writers like Sholem Aleichem and I.B. Singer to one-of-a-kind Soviet prints. In his first book, Lansky charmingly describes his adventures as president and founder of the National Yiddish Book Center, which now has new headquarters at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. To Lansky, Yiddish literature represented an important piece of Jewish cultural history, a link to the past and a memory of a generation lost to the Holocaust. Lansky's account of salvaging books is both hilarious and moving, filled with Jewish humor, conversations with elderly Jewish immigrants for whom the books evoke memories of a faraway past, stories of desperate midnight rescues from rain-soaked Dumpsters, and touching accounts of Lansky's trips to what were once thriving Jewish communities in Europe. The book is a testimony to his love of Judaism and literature and his desire to make a difference in the world.
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In 1980, a twenty-three-year-old student named Aaron Lansky set out to rescue the world's abandoned Yiddish books before it was too late. Twenty-five years and one and a half million books later, he's still in the midst of a great adventure. Filled with poignant and often laugh-out-loud tales from Lansky's travels across the country as he collected books from older Jewish immigrantsbooks their own children had no use forOutwitting History also explores brilliant Yiddish writers and enables us to see how an almost-lost culture is the bridge between the Old World and the future.… (more)

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