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The Arrogant Years: One Girl's Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 6, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“The Arrogant Years [is] a paragon of memoir writing, a story about the complex swirl of people and events and forces out of which individual lives are made — some, like Ms. Lagnado’s, more painfully, but also more fully, than others.” (New York Times )

“Lagnado is at her best when she plumbs her own psyche to sort out her life’s ups and downs…a rewarding journey.” (Washington Post)

“Lagnado is a gifted storyteller who spins ordinary family experiences into enchanting fairy tales, complete with magical backdrops...nasty villains and dashing heroes…. Vivid and evocative...tender and heartfelt.” (Kirkus)

 “Lyrical…[Lagnado’s] memoir is a fully fleshed, moving re-creation of once-vibrant Jewish communities.” (Publishers Weekly )

“You don’t have to be Jewish to take this entrancing literary ride…. The Arrogant Years is a lovely book, sad and hilarious by turn, written with love of life, and an enormous affection for language. You will love it too.” (Malachy McCourt, New York Times bestselling author of A Monk Swimming)

“In the radiant presence of Lucette Lagnado herself--and in The Arrogant Years, her moving and unsparingly revelatory second memoir… we have honesty as purity of style, and lucidity as burning emotion, and history as an enduring hymn to resilience.” (Cynthia Ozick)

“[The Arrogant Years] focuses on [Lagnado’s] mother, Edith, and her coming of age in Cairo, and then her own childhood in Brooklyn. Lagnado, who now works for The Wall Street Journal, traces the parallels between the two in this immigrant story.” (New York Post)

“[A]ffecting…Lagnado writes with great affection and compassion for her mother, and she describes displacement and the urgency of memory. Readers... of Sharkskin will again be moved…. It is also a portrait of awe-inspiring caregiving by a loving daughter.” (Jewish Week)

“With precision and searing honesty, Lucette Lagnado writes in The Arrogant Years about her torn allegiances as both an Egyptian Jew growing up in America in the 1960s and ‘70s and the youngest daughter of unhappily married parents.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)

“Weaves together the life stories of several women in a way that will resonate with readers of any ethnicity…Lagnado’s done a fabulous job, again, of transporting us to a multi-ethnic Cairo that no longer exists. That alone is worth the price of admission.” (Library Journal)

“A frank and searching chronicle of lost and found dreams… Lagnado is spellbinding and profoundly elucidating in this vividly detailed and far-reaching family memoir of epic adversity and hard-won selfhood.” (Booklist (starred review))

“[Lagnado’s] writing is tinged with a sense of loss.” (Jewish Woman magazine )

From the Back Cover

In the follow-up to her beloved, bestselling The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, Lagnado tells the story of her mother, Edith, coming of age in a magical old Cairo of dusty alleyways and grand villas. Then Lagnado revisits her own years in America—as a schoolgirl in Brooklyn's immigrant enclaves, where she dreams of becoming the fearless Mrs. Emma Peel of The Avengers, coming of age in the turbulence of New York City's 1970s, and, later, as an "avenging" reporter for some of America's most prestigious newspapers. Not only a searing account of strangers in a strange land, The Arrogant Years is a lasting "meditation on exile and assimilation, feminism and the enduring ties of family." (San Francisco Chronicle)

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco / HarperCollins (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061803677
  • ASIN: B00A1AD2NQ
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #950,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lucette Lagnado, an investigative reporter for The Wall Street
Journal, was born in Cairo, Egypt; she and her family left Egypt as
refugees when she was a small child, an experience that helped shape and
inform her memoir, THE MAN IN THE WHITE SHARKSKIN SUIT, published by Ecco/HarperCollins.

She is the 2008 recipient of the $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for
Jewish Literature, the largest cash award in the Jewish book world.

Lucette has received widespread recognition for her work.

Sharkskin has been translated in several languages including Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic; it is being translated into French.

As an investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal, she has covered health care for a decade. She has been a finalist or received prizes from, among others, Columbia Journalism School, the University of Missouri, and the University of Southern California.

In recent years, she has focused her coverage on hospitals and
nursing homes, with a special emphasis on the elderly, the poor, and the

In 2008, Ms. Lagnado received two awards for her
nursing home coverage: The National Press Club Joseph Riley Award for
Excellence in Writing on Geriatric Issues, as well as the Jack Newfield
Award given by FRIA - Friends and Relatives of the Institutionalized

She is also the 2004 recipient of the Clarion Award by the Women in Communications association for her investigative series on how hospitals and bill collectors prey on the uninsured and those least able to pay their medical bills.

Ms. Lagnado has also been recognized in prior years by the New York
Press Club, which gave her its highest award, the Golden Typewriter for
Outstanding Public Service, for her investigative work exposing the
plight of America's uninsured. She is also the recipient of Columbia
University's prestigious Mike Berger Award for her reporting about the
elderly residents of the Belnord, a fabled West Side apartment building.

She is the co-author of Children of the Flames: Dr. Mengele and
the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz," a biography of the Nazi
concentration camp doctor and the young children who were the subjects
of his medical experiments during World War 2. Children of the Flames
has been translated into nearly a dozen languages; a Hebrew edition is being published by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

She received a bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar College where
she majored in French literature.

She and her husband, Douglas Feiden, a reporter for the Daily
News, reside in Sag Harbor and New York City.

(photo courtesy of Peter Yang, Glamour Magazine)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Peter Bloch on September 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Lagnado's "The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit" was her first memoir and focused on her father and her family's exile from Egypt, where she was born. This new book is about her mother, a brilliant gentle soul whose love of French literature and civilization could not withstand life in 1970s New York City. As in her first book, Lagnado's shimmering prose magically brings the past alive, but her mother's story is even more heartbreaking than her father's, especially in the last years when her fading mother falls into the clutches of uncaring doctors and nursing homes. Lagnado's heroic efforts to preserve her mom's dignity and personal freedom is compelling--and this beautiful memoir should be read alongside Jane Gross's "A Bittersweet Season" to get a full and depressing idea of what the future holds for all of us.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Lucette Lagnado's "The Arrogant Years" is an elegant and elegiac memoir about her family's life in Cairo and their resettlement in America. Lagnado, an award-winning investigative reporter, invests her writing with so much warmth, humor, and evocative detail that we find ourselves strolling with her down the streets of Cairo; dropping in on her family in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn; sitting with her in the woman's section of her synagogue, the Shield of Young David; and accompanying her on her odyssey from a sheltered young woman to an independent and, at times, conflicted adult.

The author's candor, appreciation of her multicultural heritage (Jewish, as well as Arabic and French), and understanding of how the past and the present are intertwined, all breathe life into this account of a youngster who is bright, curious, and always a bit dissatisfied. She alludes to the once Golden Age in Cairo, where Jews held prominent positions and lived with Muslims and Christians in harmony. In fact, Madame Alice Cattaui Pasha, a beautiful and compassionate woman, was one of the wealthiest, grandest, and most influential people in Cairo. The elegant Madame Cattaui, who was Jewish, was the king's confidante. She socialized with eminent men and women, hosted magnificent gatherings, and took time from her busy schedule to lend assistance to impoverished students.

Everything changed in 1956, when many Egyptian Jews started to flee the country to such far-flung locations as Australia and Brazil. In 1963, Lagnado's family traveled briefly to France and then took up residence in Brooklyn. Although they were members of a close-knit community, they were no longer prosperous.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Feiden on September 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Almost inconceivable that Lagnado could surpass "Man in the White Sharkskin Suit," but she does exactly that in this haunting and heartbreaking companion memoir. Every single chapter -- no, make that every single page -- seems to grab the reader by the throat, or at least by the lapels, and cast its spell with some of the language's most magical and mesmerizing prose. You don't have to be Sephardic, you don't have to be Jewish, you don't even have to be a fan of "The Avengers" and Emma Peel in her black leather jumpsuit (although it helps) to love this captivating and hypnotic saga of a family that once upon a time in Egypt dined with Kings, created libraries for Pashas -- and then became pariahs and outcasts and wounded birds and broken refugees washed up on the shores of the New World. And yes, I'm a biased critic -- I'm the husband of the author, a (fairly minor) character in her new book, and one who had the supreme pleasure of hearing every single chapter of "The Arrogant Years" read aloud during its creation in Manhattan, Montreal, Sag Harbor, Cairo, Jerusalem, Paris, London, Geneva and Milan. -- Douglas Feiden, New York City
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Pollock on September 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lucette Lagnado first wrote memorably about her father in The Man in the Sharkskin Suit. This sequel is built around her mother Edith, a literary talent whose career in Egypt as teacher and librarian to the pasha's wife was cut short by an early marriage and children. The story also concentrates on the author's childhood and youth in Egypt then Brooklyn, her self absorption and arrogance, her determination to right wrongs and pursue justice. By the end of the book she has come full circle, to the realization that the women's section of the synagogue she was trying to break out of was the only place she had known warmth and security. The last chapters describe how her elderly mother was treated in a nursing home, a horror story that will chill the heart of anyone who possesses one. Lagnado's sensitivity is profound and her determination to illuminate truth can only be called courageous. Her book is filled with descriptions of clothes she hungered after as a child, but as she matures, she has researched the dispersal of the once thriving community of Jews of Egypt. Yet you do not have to be an Egyptian Jew to identify with her story. I was deeply moved, coming from a very enclosed religious community myself. I have often felt like a foreigner in America, although I was born here. Lucette Lagnado writes beautifully, simply, whole-heartedly. How I wish I knew someone like her in this strange country, New York.
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