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Hedy Reviews “The Family”

By Library Staff

The three journeys David Laskin is referring to in the subtitle are the mass immigration to the United States, the founding of Israel, and the Holocaust.  This was what three branches of his mother’s family experienced.  Laskin, a lapsed Jew, was inspired to delve into his family history after the two surviving branches met not so long ago.  We get to know these family members individually and  quite intimately.  When pogroms started occurring more frequently followed by the Holocaust in Poland and Russia, the reader is devastated.  It seemed to go on “forever”.   So it was a real relief to reach a chapter devoted to the American branch of the family which included Ital Rosenthal, the genius behind the Maidenform bra empire.  As for the branch that settled in the Middle East, Laskin does not shy away from the political problems there:

“The tragedy of modern Palestine was that one oppressed, thwarted people had come to settle among, and inevitably to displace, another oppressed, thwarted people.  Since they didn’t find a way to live together, they lived separately until one was large and strong and determined enough to oppress the other. It is the nature of human society, at least human society in the Holy Land, that the bliss of one people dancing all night and racing horses into the sea at dawn would lead directly to the other people’s sorrow, bitterness, hatred, and revenge.”

All in all, it’s a fascinating story all around and rated a rare 4 1/2 out of 5 stars inBookmarks magazine.  The Contemporary Books Discussion group is familiar with David Laskin because we discussed an earlier book of his on a completely different subject: “The Children’s Blizzard”

929.2097 LA Laskin, David. “The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century”, 2013, 383 pages including index, notes, glossary, and acknowledgments