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The Gypsies

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  289 ratings  ·  27 reviews
At the age of twelve, Jan Yoors ran away from his privileged, cultured Belgian family and home to join a wandering band, a kumpania, of Gypsies. For ten years, he lived as one of them, traveled with them from country to country, shared both their pleasures and their hardships--and came to know them as no one, no outsider, ever has. Here, in this firsthand and highly person ...more
Unknown Binding, 256 pages
Published January 1st 1983 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1967)
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I first learned of the existence of this extraordinarily fascinating book by Jan Yoors when I was reading Fonseca's book about gypsies (Roma), "Bury me Standing". Published in 1967, this book is available from on-line second-hand stores.

Sometime in between the 2 world wars, Jan Yoor, a young Belgian teenager, did something very unusual. He ran away with the gypsies. He joined a group ('kumpania') of Roma camping near to his home, and was eventually adopted by them. His under
"This book is written as a protest against oblivion, as a cry of love for this race of strangers who have lived among us for centuries and remained apart..."

With this poetic beginning, Jan Yoors tells us the story of his life as he left his family to join a new family among the Rom, more commonly called Gypsies.

For the most part, we gaje (non-Gypsies in their language) only know the most minimal stereotypes about this culture; fortunetelling women, swarthy bandana-wearing people in covered wa
Lasher Lane

I first found this book in the Seventies, on the bookshelves of Weiser's in NYC. I lent the paperback to a friend who never returned it because he fell in love with it, too. It is still my favorite and the most beautifully written book I've ever read. After reading it, I felt so sympathetic to their people/culture that I joined The Gypsy Lore Society, of which I am still a member. I'm glad the book is available in print again.
Gypsies have always seemed romantic and mysterious to me in a sort of dark and otherworldly way. I never wanted to find out more, but I ended up reading this fascinating account of their lives for my book club. I'll admit that I did a lot of "skimming and scanning" because, as I said, I really didn't care much about this topic. However, I'm glad I spent the time I did, and if you are going to learn about gypsies, this book is IT! The author actually lived with them off and on for about 10 years ...more
✟Sabrina Rutter✟
It took me a little bit to get used to the style of writing, and due to the foriegn names it made it sometimes impossible for me to always remember who was who. Admittedly I had thought of giving up on this book, but I'm happy to say I found myself unable to stop reading it! I suppose the dreamlike descriptions made it hard for me in the begining to attach to the people involved in the story, however as I read on I appriciated the dreamlike quality of the story.

This book gives a rare insight int
Update 7/31-09 I quit. I started reading other books. Maybe I'll finish this some day.. But for now, it's just not motivating me ..

UPDATE 6/11/09
I'm re-reading this now and it is a s-l-o-w read. I guess it seems a bit too intentionally instructive, if you know what I mean.. Like the author is wanting the reader to agree with him about the Gypsies: ('Aren't they cool, Wasn't it cool of me to run away with them? Don't they impress you with their cunning ways/lying and trickery? Aren't I cool for b
If you are trying to understand how gypsies think, reason and behave this is one book I can recommend, but I learned that there are gypsies and then there are gypsies. There are those that are scarcely nomadic any more - the Gitanos of Spain and France,the Sinti of Germany and the Rudari of Romania! The Rom that are dispersed around the world may be split up into four main tribes: the Lowara, the Tshurara, the Kalderasha and the Matchyaya. They differ in appearance, temperament, occupations, lan ...more
Shelly Cross
Honestly, I enjoyed this book and learned a little about Romani customs, but a lot of the book seems completely unlikely . . . it is suppose to be the factual account of a boy who was taken in by a traveling group of Romani when he was 12 years old. You find out later that he had perfectly respectable, even well-off, parents, but they didn't really look for him or even make a fuss when he got back all those months later; then, were happy to let him go back whenever he wanted. In addition to that ...more
unforgettable! this is an honest & firsthand account of a very troubled people. an amazing journey told beautifully.
This was an amazing book, one I couldn't put down. It is beautifully, lyrically written, and really does convey, not just in events told as stories, but but truly does convey a mood (Yoor's word), or essence, of the life of the Rom. This flowing nature of their live back into time immemorial (evidently it's not really known when the Rom began and there is evidence stretching back into ancient times) and flowing into the future, no matter what the world around them turns into and passes through.
Jeremy Brooks
Great book. I picked this up as a research project on Rom culture, but was pulled into it as not only a rare insight into their lives but also as a good story. Yoors is a great writer and storyteller, and provides a sympathetic and unapologetic look at gypsy culture: why they are perceived by the non-Rom as they are, why they do the things they do to build and maintain those perceptions. Eye-opening.
Everything you know about gypsies is a lie, mostly told by them to keep us away...

The most beautiful tale of the most beautiful people. More so than any society I have heard of, I think these humble nomads have it right.

I would love to find an equivalent tale involving Native Americans; a person who has been accepted into their society and can explain it in detail from their perspective.
I have read this book several times and given it to others. It is one of the most fascinating reads out there. Yoors account is unique, well-written, and difficult to put down. Not only does the reader learn a lot about the life, culture, and language of Roma people, but the story is absolutely wonderful. I'd love to see a movie made of this book, as well as its sequel, Crossings.
Lisa Campbell
Mar 07, 2010 Lisa Campbell rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to respectfully refer to Rom in writing
Recommended to Lisa by: my husband
This book gives wonderful insight into the life of the Rom. Written in late 1960s, Jan Yoors ran away from his Belgium home at age twelve to join the Gypsies. This book tells about his ten years amongst them. While today the term "gypsy" is looked at as a slur, Yoors writes with respect and candor. Helped tremendously in my research.
The Gypsies by Jan Yoors (Simon & Shuster 1967)(910.03). This is a first-person account of a Belgian boy who ran off to join the gypsies as a youngster. He spent ten years travelling with them; this is his account of the culture, rituals, and lifestyle of this nomadic peoples. My rating: 7/10, finished 2007.
Read this ages ago, and am now re-reading it to maybe use with a class...
Still debating whether it isn't too "grown-up" for my non-native English students, in terms of the language. An amazing book though, which fascinated me when I first read it at age 17 or 18... and did not disappoint on a second reading.
THis is everything you want to know about the travellers written by someone who lived with them (of free choice) for 10 years. Very positive and informative but written in an engaging way. You'll love it!
Written in the 60s by a Belgian who spent several years living among Gypsies during the 30s when he was in his teens. The book offers a rare intimate glimpse into this mysterious and closed society.
Lisa Hernandez
Wow. I don't know if you are aware, but I have an honorary PhD in Gypsiedom. This book taught me more than any other though, about such a unique and historic lifestyle.
What a life to honest thing that many of might not have been able to do given the opportunity.
Marie Loughin
Fascinating insight into the Roma lifestyle in the first half of the 20th century.
Jul 25, 2007 Penny rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
one of the better, and more accurate, stories written about the gypsy culture.
Oct 16, 2013 Nicole rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gina
This is one of the most interesting book I have ever read.
A wonderful, bizarre, and fascinating book.
May 23, 2013 Shado marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Reading as Research.
Julia Connor
Julia Connor marked it as to-read
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Jan Yoors was born to a cultured, liberal family of artists, but at the age of twelve he ran off with a Gypsy tribe and lived with the kumpania on and off for the next ten years. During World War II, Yoors worked with the Allies to help the Gypsies who were being systematically exterminated. He was captured twice and imprisoned until the end of the war.

In 1950 Yoors settled in New York City, where
More about Jan Yoors...
The Heroic Present: Life Among the Gypsies Crossing Tsiganes The Gypsies Of Spain La croisée des chemins

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