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My Two Polish Grandfathers: And Other Essays on the Imaginative Life Hardcover – February 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743235983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743235983
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,327,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Prolific architecture writer Rybczynski reflects upon his personal and intellectual foundations in this engaging collection of memoir essays. Observing that his predilection toward the “imaginative life” has much to do with the strong personalities of his grandparents and his parents’ displacement amid World War II, Rybczynski affectionately recounts their stories in considerable detail. Although the second half of this book offers glimpses of Rybczynski’s childhood and peripatetic young adulthood (including enviable European architecture tours and a brief residence in bohemian Ibiza), the stories of his ancestors in the first half are very much this account’s emotional core. Should he emulate his maternal grandfather—start a career, get married, settle down, do something useful—or should he seek the apparent freedom of turning one’s back on the world, like his paternal grandfather (and namesake)? Readers expecting revelations about architecture may be surprised to discover that Rybczynski is less concerned with the edifices of his profession than he is with drawing subtler, more intimate connections between the constant motion of one’s surroundings and the process of finding one’s home in the world. --Brendan Driscoll

Review

"My Two Polish Grandfathers is an absolutely delightful book, which is no surprise to me, being one of Witold's greatest admirers." -- David M. Childs, architect of One World Trade Center and the Time Warner Center

"A very enlightening book by one of our very best architectural critics. The story of Witold Rybczynski's Polish forebears during World War Two, and how they ended up in Canada, is fascinating. His account of his architectural education, and how his distinctive perspective on architecture developed, helps explain how he became something of a maverick in this age of modernism." -- Nathan Glazer, professor emeritus, Harvard University, and author of From a Cause to a Style

"Disarming, charming, sweet-natured, large-hearted--all these adjectives describe this little book, and I imagine they describe the architect-author as well." -- Carolyn See, Washington Post

"Wide-ranging, compulsively readable... A satisfying and valuable addition to a still growing literature." -- Helen Epstein, Phildelphia Inqurier

More About the Author

Witold Rybczynski has written about architecture and urbanism for The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed book Home and the award-winning A Clearing in the Distance. His latest book is The Biography of a Building. The recipient of the National Building Museum's 2007 Vincent Scully Prize, he lives with his wife in Philadelphia, where he is emeritus professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.
Read his blog at http://www.witoldrybczynski.com.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Linda C. Wisniewski on May 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I love the premise - a memoir in essay form - and the gentle, affectionate way the author uses to inform us about his background and speculate on his ultimate career in architecture. A well-examined life, to be sure. Being Polish outside Poland places his family in one of the many 'outsider' tales that form some of the best literature. The book reminded me a tiny bit of Ewa Hoffman's "Lost In Translation" though Rybczinski's attitude is much more positive.
He's inspired me to take another look at my own Polish Grandpas ...and Grandmas too! Bardzo dobrze!

Linda Ciulik Wisniewski, Author of Off Kilter: A Woman's Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, and Her Polish Heritage
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By Lydia GB on September 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a nice essay on the author's family background and how he came to chose his career path. There was a lot of interesting facts about everyday life for displaced refugees during WW2.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeninsc on June 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the title I expected short stories, or essays, probably humorous. There are some interesting historical facts in the chapters, but I don't feel the characters as I'd like too.
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