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The Arrogant Years: One Girl's Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn
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The Arrogant Years: One Girl's Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  352 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The author of the award-winning The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit—hailed by the New York Times book review as a “crushing, brilliant book”—returns with this, the extraordinary follow-up memoir

In The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, Lucette Lagnado offered a heartbreaking portrait of her father, Leon, a successful Cairo boulevardier who was forced to take flight with his
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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Ecco
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Leora Wenger
Lucette Lagnado is back to tell us more of her family's tale. This book focuses on her mother and on her own youthful teenage years in Brooklyn and later in college. The prologue is a tale of her challenging the status quo in her little synagogue in Brooklyn, regarding the mehitza (the divider between men and women). The book then travel backs to Egypt and early stories of her mother as a teacher. The title of the book refers to a period in a young woman's life when she feels confident and invin ...more
Katz Nancy from NJ
Several years ago a book was highly touted as an example of what it means to emigrate to a new country, this case the United States. The title of this non-fiction book was The Man in the White Sharskin Suit by Lucette Lagnado. This book is about the author's family and The Man in the White Sharkskin suit was Lucette Lagnado's father Leon, a wealthy Egyptian Jew who lived the good life in Cairo. But in 1956, when the King was deposed, many of the Egyptians including those of the Jewish faith left ...more
Rayna Forman
I loved this author's first book, Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, which was one of my favorite books of the last few years, but was somewhat leery about reading this book, as I had heard people say that it wasn't nearly as good. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the book. However, too me it felt like a bunch of short stories put together to make a novel. Any one of the chapters could have probably stood on its own.

Although I am Jewish, I am very unfamiliar with the Jewish people who lived in Egypt, Syr
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Ariela
Made me want to drink: Turkish coffee.
Thomas Hübner
http://www.mytwostotinki.com/?p=577

As readers of Andre Aciman's wonderful memoir Out of Egypt will know, Egypt was until the 1950s home of a Levantine Jewish community that lived for most of its history comparatively well integrated and respected in this part of the world.

Multi-cultural Cairo and Alexandria were at that time home to many religious and ethnic minorities that over the centuries had learned to cope with each other in a - mostly - peaceful way. Many members of the Jewish community l
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Crystal Mendoza
I first learned of this book while listening to NPR (much to my father's dismay), and my initial thought was that I would not like this book at all considering it's highly educational and non-fictional. Taking into account the distress that is currently occurring in Egypt with the civil rights movement and governmental reform, it was enlightening to read about the bureaucratic distress that occurred during Lagnado's mother's time. Comparing issues between then and now was the most interesting po ...more
Kate
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Doug Feiden

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
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Dena Bass
The author's previous book focused mainly on her relationship with her father during their forced journey from Egypt to New York. This book concentrates on the author's relationship with her mainly during the New York years. Three things stood out to me in this book
1). Most religions have a past and sometimes current history of subjugation of women. The Egyptian Jews were definitely in this category. Women were not "allowed to work" after they were married.
2). Interestingly, the author's father
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Catherine
I think this was a fairly good memoir. I liked learning about Egypt in the fifties, but I felt that the author often told us things she should have demonstrated. We hear that the mother is brilliant: we never hear her brilliance first hand. Even when she knocks off an essay her daughter needs for a Vassar French class, we don't see the essay so we don't know how wonderful it really is. People loved Lagnado's previous book, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, which I haven't read, but I found th ...more
Stephen
Again I find myself reading a book that I might not have picked up except for a friend's recommendation. 'The Arrogant Years' first tells the story of the author's mother, Edith growing up in Egypt. And later she tells her own story as she became assimilated in her new country,America. It is a delightful tale full of nuances and picturesque scenes of Egypt and Brooklyn.
It is easy to forget that once upon a time, Jews lived in Egypt as ordinary citizens with their Muslim and Coptic Christian ne
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Siobhan
This is such a wonderful book I cannot recommend it highly enough. Lagnado writes so beautifully she absolutely draws you in to the amazing world of Cairo in the years immediately following WW2. The story of her family's and the description of life in Cairo during this time is so alive and amazing, especially against the backdrop of what we know of Cairo today it is a fascinating read. I had no idea of the richness and diversity of Cairo in those years let alone of the tremendous Jewish communit ...more
Michelle
I really liked Lagnado's previous memoir, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit. I had known nothing about Egyptian Jews before reading that book, and her portrait of her dad was very touching. I was worried about whether I'd enjoy The Arrogant Years, as the reviews said it covered much of the same territory. Silly worry. The Arrogant Years touched me to the heart. Though the beginning is set in Egypt, the heart of the book is in the United States. Lagnado is my age, and we might've intersected at ...more
Charles Weinblatt
The Arrogant Years is the poignant and touching story of a Jewish family’s strength against a myriad of obstacles, from prominence in Egypt to obscurity in America, from wealthy to working class, from illness to heath, from Brooklyn to Vassar and beyond. Lagnano proffers a tale of how her mother was accepted into the highest echelon of Egyptian society, and later lowered to the status of the unwanted. This memoir is a vivid and evocative portrait of a family’s struggle against discrimination. Th ...more
Laura
I confess, I'm not sure how the title fits in, except possibly as an indicator of the way the family lived in Cairo versus their lives in America. It doesn't really matter, ultimately, and I enjoyed meeting Lucette's family and learning about her life.

The community I was raised in was an Askenazic survivor community, so reading about the lives of Levantine Jews was a new experience. To be honest, I wish there had been more about those differences (perhaps that's another book?). Lagnado is half-E
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Robert
If you enjoyed, as I did, Lucette Lagnado’s The Man in the Sharkskin Suit, I suspect you’ll find The Arrogant Years a satisfying companion piece. In the new book, Ms. Lagnado tells the story of her mother, Edith, a complex, charming and troubled woman. Edith, a bibliophile, a woman whose call to teaching was as strong as that of a Rabbi to the Teba, and, foremost, a Francophile is caught like her husband, Leon, by circumstances beyond her control and her imagining.
Lagnado’s is a deep and respec
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Tricia Mcginnis
There are major aspects of this memoir that I really enjoyed, particularly the first half of the book the describes her mother's life in Egypt. The author really penetrates the beginning of her mother's life, which for me was the most interesting part of the book. And I loved the author's reflections on her early childhood years after she moved to the US and the interactions with those in her synagogue. But unfortunately those insights don't really carry through to the reminder of her mother's l ...more
Gail
Lucette Lagnado's previous book "The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit" was about her father, Leon, who walked the boulevards of Cairo proud of himself and what he had accomplished. All of that fell apart when the family had to flee Egypt to escape from a dictatorship. It was a tremendous tale so I was eager to read her newest memoir.
"The Arrogant Years" is a dual portrait of both Lucette and her mother, Edith. Lucette intertwines their two lives by writing of her mother's childhood in Old Cairo,
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T.P. Williams
A very worthy sequel to "The Man in The White Sharkskin Suit." Same amazing detail, same observational powers of the author in this one. I think I should have read them in their original order since I was somewhat unsure of why the author opened this book with a long section about Alice Cattaui Pasha, who is referenced in the other volume. I think this book thematically different from the other, in that it traces Alice's influence upon Edith (the author's mother) and Edith's influence on the aut ...more
Mary Kooistra
The author was born to a Syrian Jewish family in Cairo. As a young girl, her family was forced to leave Egypt under Nassar. She wrote The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit - which focused on her father, his life and her relationship with him. Although this book covers the same ground (life in Egypt - problems of immigration - coming of age)-it focuses on her mother and their relationship and does not repeat ground covered in the first book. Both are very well written and very informative about lif ...more
Judy Samuels
I had already read this author's first book, a memoir called "The Man in the Sharkskin Suit". I wanted to read this book to find out what happened to the author after arriving in America from Egypt. Unfortunately, about half of this book was just a repeat of information from the first book. The author's writing style improved since her first book, which had an excess of repeated, stock phrases to describe people or places. Much of the story revolves around the author's somewhat traumatic experie ...more
Christina
Lucette Lagnado's brilliant memoir about her mother's brittle young life and her family's early experiences in America was riveting and unforgettable.

The tale begs the question: how could the Jews in Cairo, so held in side-by-side esteem, become terrorized? Their lives changed in an instant yet will not be forgotten.

Lucette Lagnado's pen is mightier than the sword of injustice that struck her mother's family.

You won't easily forget her life in the Alley of the Pretty One or her struggles in Amer
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Melissa McAfee
This is a brilliantly-told story by a young Jewish Egyptian woman who has a gift for strategically and effectively dealing with adversity. By the time she turns 21, she has had to assimilate into two foreign cultures, deal with the deteriorating mental and physical health of her parents, as well as her own diagnosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma. Having lived in Cairo, I was fascinated by her description of an Egyptian culture that was very different from the one that I knew when I lived there in the 199 ...more
Sharyn
This sequel to the "Man in the white sharkskin suit" covers much the same territory, but from the point of view of her motherr, rather than her father. The descriptions of the life of the Jews in modern Egypt continue to fascinate. People forget how the Arabs threw out the Jews who had lived for centuries in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia,etc. and only focus on the Arabs who voluntarily left the British Mandate. Her descriptions of life in New York were also interesting. She grew up and became a successf ...more
Marilyn
This was the follow-up memoir to The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit by Lagnado, and it's a worthy sequel. There's the immigrant aspect to her (& her family's) story, then there are family relationship issues, and plenty of other twists and turns in this excellent writer's life... including the story of courage in combatting a near-fatal form of cancer. Awesome writing. Highly recommended.
Cindie Harp
I enjoyed this book, even though it was something of a re-tread of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit. LL does expand on the details of different events in her and her mother, Edith's life, whereas TMINWSS was mostly her father, Leon's, story. I am left with wanting more details of her relationship and the later lives of her siblings Isaac (whom she does refer to as putting her parents in a nursing home, to their and the rest of the family's objections) and Suzette, who kept a tenuous relations ...more
Nan
Lucette Lagnado, award-winning reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was in my French class in high school. I didn't know much about her since she was a year behind me, but I do remember that she could speak French ridiculously well. Now I know why. Lagnado describes her early days as a well-off French-speaking Jew in Egypt (Who knew there was such a thing?), emigration to Brooklyn to escape Nassar's rule, and her family's navigation of a totally new world. A fascinating exploration of a life ex ...more
Catherine
I really enjoyed reading Lagnado’s first book, “The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit,” so I was anxious to delve into this one. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I found this book less engaging. It felt like she went back through many of the stories expressed in the first book and padded them out and included less interesting stories that might have been edited from the previous book. There were moments that offered a more thorough account of events in her and her mother’s lives, but ove ...more
Randi
An interesting autobiography of what it is like to grow up the child of immigrants. "Arrogant Years" seems to refer to the time in young women's lives when they are confidant and feel capable of anything. The time just before the loss of innocence, when the reality of living as an adult sets in. So not really arrogant in my view. I love the descriptions of Cairo, still old world in the mid-20th century.

The book falls apart towards the end. Maybe she rushed to finish? The ending is Just not as po
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Henrietta
Dec 16, 2014 Henrietta marked it as to-read
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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 recent memoir, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, published by Ecco/HarperCollins.
Lucette has received numerous awards for her work at The Wall Street Journal, where she has covered
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More about Lucette Lagnado...
The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World Sürgün

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