The Family: Book summary and reviews of The Family by David Laskin

The Family

Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century

By David Laskin

The Family
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2013,
    400 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

A century and a half ago, a Torah scribe and his wife raised six children in a yeshivatown at the western fringe of the Russian empire. Bound by their customs and ancient faith, the pious couple expected their sons and daughter to carry family traditions into future generations. But the social and political crises of our time decreed otherwise.

The torrent of history took the scribe's family down three very different roads. One branch immigrated to America and founded the fabulously successful Maidenform Bra Company; another went to Palestine as pioneers and participated in the contentious birth of the state of Israel; the third branch remained in Europe and suffered the onslaught of the Nazi occupation.

In tracing the roots of this family - his own family - Laskin captures the epic sweep of the twentieth century. 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 a deeply personal, dramatic, and emotional account of people caught in a cataclysmic time in world history.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A gripping epic narrative, beginning in 1875 and spanning over a century." - Publishers Weekly

"[Laskin's] compelling narrative brings these individuals to life as awe witness their triumphs and tragedies in vivid detail and at times in their own voices." - Library Journal

"An ambitious, experimental look at exodus, acclimatization and culture with a cast as diverse as any family photo album…Were this fiction, it would read much like the novels of Leon Uris and other spinners of historical sagas." - Kirkus

"A deeply felt story filled with the joy and sadness that has characterized Jewish life in this period." - Booklist

"What a story! Scholars and scribes, Zionists and revolutionaries, Holocaust martyrs and the inventors of the Maidenform bra all march through these pages." - Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University

"A banquet of Jewish history, as lived by one exceptional American family, across four generations and on three continents, the worst things endured and the best things relished." - Edward Ball, author of Slaves in the Family

"At once heartbreaking and gloriously triumphant... a story of love. Yes, a big unyielding, often rollicking and humorous history of one generation's prevailing love for the next. A wonderful achievement." - Philip Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Failure

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Author Information

David Laskin Author Biography

Photo by Jacqueline M Koch

David Laskin was born in New York in 1953 and educated at Harvard College and New College, Oxford. For the past twenty-five years, Laskin has written books and articles on a wide range of subjects, including history, weather, travel, gardens, and the natural world. His most recent book, The Children’s Blizzard, won the Washington State Book Award and the Midwest Booksellers’ Choice Award for Nonfiction. A frequent contributor to The New York Times Travel Section, Laskin also writes for the Washington Post, the Seattle Times, and Seattle Metropolitan. He and his wife, Kate O’Neill are the parents of three grown daughters and live in Seattle with their two sweet old dogs.

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