08 November 2007

The Lost

I've had this book on my list to read since it came out a year ago and I wish now I'd read it sooner. This is an excellent book about the author Daniel Mendelsohn's search for the fate of his relatives who died in the Holocaust. Of course, it's not a very cheerful book because books about the Holocaust never are, but the awful things he learns aren't the point of the book at all.

I particularly enjoyed the book because I'm interested in family history myself. Not just the dates and places, but the stories behind the people. Mendelsohn starts his quest to find out how his relatives died, but as he writes several times in the book, the goal in the end is to find out how they lived. And shouldn't that be the real point of family history?

Yes, it does get rambly at times and 500 pages really is rather too long for this story. I didn't read absolutely every word on every page. The attention to detail was amazing (actually telling us the notes he was taking of conversations we were reading in their entirety?). And my goodness, Mendelsohn actually uses more parentheses than I do. If I had felt like I had to read everything, I wouldn't have made it through the book. But I didn't (I probably skipped about 50-75 pages all together) so I very much enjoyed the book.

Highly recommended.


  1. Note taken--I'll try to find it here. Another non-fiction title I'd recommend concerning this topic. The title is "Last Waltz in Vienna" by George Clare, the story of a Viennese Jewish family before, during, and after the war.

  2. Thanks, Maralise. This one isn't at my library so I'll put a little effort into finding it.