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The House of Twenty Thousand Books Summary and Reviews

The House of Twenty Thousand Books

by Sasha Abramsky

The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha Abramsky X
The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha Abramsky
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  • Published Sep 2015
    336 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

The House of Twenty Thousand Books is journalist Sasha Abramsky's elegy to the vanished intellectual world of his grandparents, Chimen and Miriam, and their vast library of socialist literature and Jewish history. A rare book dealer and self-educated polymath who would go on to teach at Oxford and consult for Sotheby's, Chimen Abramsky drew great writers and thinkers like Isaiah Berlin and Eric Hobsbawm to his north London home; his library grew from his abiding passion for books and his search for an enduring ideology. The books, documents, and manuscripts that covered every shelf at 5 Hillway were testaments to Chimen's quest - from the Jewish orthodoxy of his boyhood, to the Communism of his youth, to the liberalism of his mature years. The House of Twenty Thousand Books is at once the story of a fascinating family and chronicle of the embattled twentieth century.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A wonderful celebration of the mind, history, and love." - Kirkus

"[A] fascinating if jumbled blend of history, biography, and memoir that works despite itself - a reflection of the seemingly disordered, cluttered house that contained its own internal order and treasures" - Publishers Weekly

"...wonderfully warm and evocative" - Huffington Post

"Sasha Abramsky has produced a wonderful addition to the canon of Jewish grandchild literature: one that would be well worth its place in Chimen Abramsky's now immortal house of books." - The Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"[At] once epic and intimate, rooted in family life but encompassing the sweep of history. At its heart are loss and renewal, tradition and reinvention, schism and continuity." - Financial Times (UK)

"Memorialising an epoch in Jewish life, [Abramsky] mixes the visual with the instructive in a way that could inspire a television series." - The Jewish Chronicle (UK)

"Sasha Abramsky has combined four kinds of history - familial, political, Jewish, and literary - into one brilliant and compelling book." - Samuel Freedman

"I loved this touching and heartfelt celebration of a scholar, teacher and bibliophile, a man whose profound learning was fine-tempered by humane wisdom and self-knowledge" - Jonathan Keates

"The sheer richness of this marvellous book ... amply complements the wondrous complexity of the family – in terms of its subject-matter, think the Eitingons, the Ephrussi – about which Sasha Abramsky writes so lovingly. And as a portrait of London's left-wing Jewish intellectual life it is surely without equal." - Simon Winchester

"[A] fascinating memoir of the fatal encounter between Russian Jewish yearning for freedom and the Stalinist creed, a grandson's unsparing, but loving reckoning with a conflicted inheritance. In the digital age, it will also make you long for the smell of old books, the dust on shelves and the collector's passions, all on display in The House of Twenty Thousand Books." - Michael Ignatieff

This information about The House of Twenty Thousand Books was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Sasha Abramsky Author Biography

Sasha Abramsky was born in England in 1972, grew up in London, and studied politics, philosophy, and economics at Balliol College, Oxford. He got his B.A. in 1993 and moved to New York to study journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He lived in the New York for ten years, before moving to California in 2003.

Abramsky is currently an author, freelance journalist, lecturer at the University of California, and a senior fellow at Demos. His work has appeared in the Nation, Atlantic Monthly, New York magazine, American Prospect, Salon, Slate, NewYorker.com, LA Weekly, Village Voice, Daily Beast, and Rolling Stone. His 2013 book, The American Way of Poverty, was listed as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and his 2015 volume, The House of Twenty Thousand...

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