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The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century Hardcover – October 15, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
David Laskin's family on his mother's side began in the shtetel of Rakov and the yeshiva center of Volozhin, both in current-day Belarus. Their family name was Kagan or Kaganovich, which is a derivative of the priestly name of "Cohen". Many of the men were scholars and torah scribes and the women either kept the house or made the coin. Hard times in then-Russia - pogroms and government suppression and economic failures - made the idea of emigrating to "der Goldene Medina" - the United States - a very attractive one. Several members of the family went to New York City in the early 1900's. Hard work and luck turned their lives into increasingly prosperous ones. By the 1920's one branch of the US family had found success in the wholesale metals business, which the other branch became "Maidenform", an early creator of bras and girdles. Remember the old ads, "I dreamed I rode a merry-go-round in my Maidenform bra" or some-such? Well, they were the creation of Itel Kagan Rosenthal who was a fiery socialist back in Rakov til she became a sterling capitalist here in the US.Read more ›
THE FAMILY follows several generations of that Russian Jewish family through decades of births, marriages and deaths. Each person born in each generation has his own ideas, hopes and dreams. And each must work and search to find the life to which he believes he wants. Rather than trace each generation, this review will trace the three main paths.
One popular path some descendants took was entrepreneurship. Those folks settled in America and, through much hard work and sacrifice, succeeded in business beyond their wildest dreams. The author’s aunt Itel ran a very successful dressmaking business. When the flapper look became popular, she branched out into the bra business and enjoyed great success as the founder of Maidenform Bra Company. Three of Itel's brothers --- Harry, Sam and Hyman --- settled in the Lower East Side of New York, where they operated a wholesale business that also thrived.
A second path led to the Holy Land for family members who became Zionist pioneers. The first to settle in the Holy Land was Chaim in 1924. He joined a moshav, a cooperative farming village that gave him more autonomy than he would have living on a kibbutz. Life was hard, working the arid land and dealing with complicated problems of who owned the Land. Sonia, a cousin of Chaim's, left home in 1932 with four friends.Read more ›
The story is of a Russian Jewish family but, as another reviewer said, you don't have to be Jewish to love this book. It makes me want to read other family histories from other religious backgrounds and from other countries. I just hope they will be as well written as this one.
the writer did an excellent job researching the historical details of Volozhin, Rakov and Vilna and incorporated those details into the story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Non fiction rather than fiction.. Very interesting read. It covers stories of people coming to America, the Holocaust, Israel, the whole family. Read morePublished 26 days ago by suzanne bermant
This book followed the story of my parents' family in Vilna up to their deaths in Ponary in June, 1941. About 20 were lost there. I visited Ponary twice.Published 1 month ago by Anne Arnold
Thought-provoking -- for me mesmerizing -- story of three main lines of the author's family, and the impact of the choices made by each generation on themselves and their... Read morePublished 3 months ago by C. D. Foster
Fascinating book of interest to family history and genealogy buffs. Well researched. I learned a lot about areas where I thought I had extensive knowledge.Published 4 months ago by Walter S. Elias
This is a wonderful book. I found its descriptions of life in Eastern Europe extremely moving, especially its account of what happened in Rackow, Poland, where my grandfather came... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Big Jess
This is a wonderful book. I am working on my own family history, and this was fascinating to read. I bought this copy for my cousin, who I know will be thrilled to have it. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Virginia Prince
Excellent journey of Eastern European Jewish family
Non fiction which reads like a novel. Great way to learn about the persecution of Jews throughout history from19 th... Read more