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Daniel Mendelsohn
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The Lost: A Search For Six Of Six Million

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  3,971 Ratings  ·  574 Reviews
In this rich and riveting narrative, a writer's search for the truth behind his family's tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic-part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly detective work-that brilliantly explores the nature of time and memory, family and history. As a child, acclaimed writer Daniel Mendelsohn bore such a resemblanc ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by 4th Estate - AU (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Abby
Nov 01, 2011 Abby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


The two teenage girls at the right in the back row in this picture are my paternal grandmother and her sister. Their parents and grandfather are in the front row. The picture was taken around 1900. A few years later, my grandmother, rebellious and politically inclined, left the small town in Poland and came, alone, to the United States. She was one of the very few members of her family to escape the Holocaust.

Like many American Jews, I don't know precisely what happened to my relatives. Daniel
...more
Ruth
Aug 01, 2008 Ruth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is listed as being a “New York Times Bestseller.” One would think that I should have had my fill of Holocaust stories, but apparently not, as this one jumped into my hand at Borders even though I hadn’t known of its existence. It’s not an easy read. Mendelsohn never used one comma in a sentence where he could insert three or four. I was often lost in sentences wandering through parenthetical phrase after parenthetical phrase until I had to back up and take them out in turn in order to tack ...more
Marci
Aug 03, 2008 Marci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, I just officially finished my book, The Lost, yesterday (big cheers for me!) and thought I’d let you know what I thought about it...I will start with what I didn’t like. It was long (500 pages – a lot for me at this point in my life!) and as I mentioned earlier a little slow at the beginning. There was a lot of detailed discussion on various stories of the Torah which was interesting at first but by the last 50 pages I had begun skipping over to go straight to the actual storyline. Overall, ...more
Jonfaith
There may just be a vertical hierarchy in our popular understanding of the Holocaust. At the top, however uneasy, are the Survivors: it is through their testimony that we know to never forget. Their is also a measure of merit in having outwitted or simply survived the minatory machinations of the Nazis. below them are the victims, particularly present when the doltish ask "why they went like sheep, why they didn’t fight back, why they didn’t heed the signs in the 1930s?" Below that mound of evid ...more
Carla
Jul 08, 2014 Carla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“A toda essa distância, ao fim de todos aqueles anos e ali estava ela, sentada à mesa comigo, ali estava ele, a conversar comigo ao telefone, ali estavam eles, ali andavam eles se soubéssemos onde encontrá-los: recordando-os.” (P.167)


Ester, Bronia e Schmiel Jäger
Leanna
Oct 28, 2007 Leanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My cousin, who I have never been close to, lent me The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
on her recent visit to France. At the time, she had no idea how interested in this book I would be.

The memoir recounts Daniel Mendelsohn’s search for information about the lives and deaths of his great uncle and his family. His journey starts with only one sure fact: his Uncle Shmiel and family were killed during the Nazi occupation of eastern Poland (now Ukraine).

As a Ukraine-phile, I was particularly in
...more
Lori
Sep 08, 2007 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best thing I read last year. It took me many months to finish this book as I would get overwhelmed by the detail, but I always felt compelled to pick it back up after a breather and continue. This book made the holocaust real for me in a way nothing else, including the Washington D.C museum, has. Brilliant the way Mendelhsson addresses the vast scale of the holocaust while at the same time narrowing it down to individual people who are not heroes or villians, but a regular family like anyone ...more
Kay McAdams
Jul 15, 2007 Kay McAdams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
This books takes patience and is not a quick read, but it is well worth the effort. The author makes fascinating use of the Torah to help us understand his journey into his family's past. It is a book that leaves you exhausted-- this wasn't easy to write, and I have great respect for that. The title suggests that it's about searching for the fate of 6 specific Holocaust victims, but it's about so much more than that-- memory, human nature, knowing and history, surviving after Surviving, family, ...more
João Carlos
Feb 17, 2013 João Carlos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Estar vivo é ter uma história para contar. Estar vivo é, precisamente, ser o herói, o centro de uma história de vida. Quando não se pode ser mais nada além de uma personagem secundária na história de alguém, isso significa que se está verdadeiramente morto." (Pág. 480)

“Os Desaparecidos – À procura de seis em seis milhões” é um livro de não-ficção escrito pelo jornalista, crítico e escritor norte-americano Daniel Mendelsohn (n. 1960), editado em 2006 e que recebeu inúmeros prémios literários, co
...more
S.
This book is sad and beautiful and riveting. The story itself isn't unusual since the fate of this family was the fate of many European Jews in the Holocaust. But the author pursues the story with such loving care, and the uncovering of what happened is handled almost unbearably well. I also enjoyed how the author wove in philology/etymology and biblical reference. I loved it. I cried all over it. I forced it on my mother.
Chelsea
A beautifully written, evocative book. Dense, full of tangents, and telling the story of several generations across several continents.

Mendelsohn is the self-appointed family historian who, after an entire childhood of listening to his grandfather's stories, decides to find out what happened to the family members who were left out - his grandfather's brother, his wife, and their four daughters, who were "killed by the Nazis". With little more to go on (when he begins his search, he was unsure ev
...more
Kristen
Mar 14, 2007 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine gave me her copy of this book, telling me I should read it because of the intimacy my own life has had in recent years to the Holocaust. My boyfriend's grandparents were both Holocaust survivors who emigrated to the US after the war.

The book focuses on one man's search to find out more about 'the lost,' six members of his family (an aunt, uncle, and four cousins) who perished in the war, but no one knows exactly how. He travels to multiple countries over several years interview
...more
Marianna Evenstein
Wow, what a moving read. This book totally reminded me of my own family history, and my own desire to re-connect with and reconstruct a world that has been almost completely lost with the generation of people who lived through the Holocaust. But this is not just another book about the Holocaust -- it's a book about the nature of memory and storytelling, about how our history determines who we are in the present and who we will become in the future. Nevertheless, I can imagine that this is not ne ...more
JimS
Dec 24, 2011 JimS rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most excruciatingly haunting books I've ever read. It is marvelously told, the story of Daniel Mendelsohn searching for details -- specifics! -- on how six members of his family were "killed by the Nazis" during the Holocaust -- "killed by the Nazis" being about the only information he started with. This is so much more than a detective story. It's an Odyssey. Mendelsohn is a classicist by profession, and his storytelling is a loving adaption (adoption?) of Homer. But it's als ...more
Laura
Just arrived from France through BM.

What happened to Shmiel Jäger, his wife Ester and their four beautiful girls? Emigrants to their relatives in America, they died at the beginning of the occupation of Galicia by the Germans denounced by their good Polish. Born in 1960, Daniel Mendelsohn, nephew of Shmiel has always doubted the official version, and from his childhood, began searching for the truth. This book is both the result 'of a life of inquiry, and the story of the investigation itself.

Th
...more
Marina Deus
Sep 13, 2016 Marina Deus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
rigoroso. exigente.doloroso. meigo. às vezes desgastante.
Rachel Brown
An American Jew's attempt to find out via research exactly what happened to six family members who were killed in the Holocaust.

Even for a Holocaust narrative, this is a particularly brutal story. It's not about the banality of evil or about people rationalizing genocide because they are only signing a paper rather than looking someone in the eye and killing them with their own hands. It's about ordinary people given permission to personally commit horrific acts of violence against people they'v
...more
Pamela
Mar 16, 2010 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This combination memoir and report describes the author's attempt to discover what happened to his great-uncle and -aunt and their four daughters, who died in Poland in the Holocaust, and about whom very little was known (or at least spoken, until those who knew had died and it was too late to ask). Mendelsohn writes in a kind of Russian-dolls style, with narratives buried within narratives buried within other narratives, allowing his associations to carry him to one place and another. This is n ...more
Peggy
Dec 26, 2012 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was an utterly absorbing experience for me, and I recommend it highly. It's engrossing and personal and kept me fully engaged for several weeks. The narrative alone would be enough to make a good book; how the author used a few scant facts & clues from family stories plus a lot of careful investigation, to reconstruct the final days and months of his great-uncle and family in a then-Polish village. The father, a butcher, his four daughters and wife all were "lost" in the Ho ...more
Chris
May 29, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a compelling book. Mendelsohn keeps the focus on the search as opposed to disgressing to talk about himself as many writer in similar books do. Mendelsohn also does not talk down to the reader. At first, I was put off a little by the sections that dealt with commentary about The Torah. I felt, at first, that it got in the way of the story. Then I realized how cleverly Mendelsohn was tying it into the story, and sometimes it provided much needed relief from some of the horror. Mendelsohn ...more
Jordana Horn Gordon
Everything a great nonfiction book should be: engaging, smart, beautifully written and deeply meaningful.
Gustine
Aug 04, 2009 Gustine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would have given this 5 stars if only the author had used quotation marks!

Did the author think he's above quote marks, or did his editors talk him into this fiasco because it’s the latest "cool" trend? This stupid trend leads to complete reader confusion.

The author is searching for information about his six relatives who were killed in the Holocaust. He travels to Poland, Australia, and Sweden to interview elderly Holocaust survivors. It’s utterly engrossing…until he begins relating the inter
...more
Marialyce
May 15, 2014 Marialyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a truly remarkable story of a search undertaken to find out about the lives of six family members killed during the Holocaust. It was an exhaustive search taking the author into Poland, Israel, Denmark, and Sweden trying to piece together what constituted his family and who really were these cousins and aunt and uncle of his. It was reverting on many levels and gave the reader the insight into how the Nazis not only killed these people but took away their identities. It was as if they n ...more
Robyn
Feb 04, 2008 Robyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I enjoyed this book. Not so much in that it was a pleasure to read (it was slow, long winded and all around a little tough to finish), but more because it really made me question our past and the accuracy of those stories we've heard and held as true. I did not read this book for the Holocaust aspect - I think the underlying message is universal.

Mendelsohn was a little obsessive about trying to find information, but his story made me remember how easy it is to forget an entire life (and how easy
...more
Marianne
The idea of the book is deeply touching: to give a posthumous life to a few among the millions who perished in the Holocaust. The book, however, struck me as too long and too drawn out and the Biblical references as unnecessary. The strength of this book is to make us stop considering the death of a butcher and his family in a small village in Poland as irrelevant in the great scheme of things, because it does matter. In fact, it is the very sad and gripping "banality" of the story that makes us ...more
Phillipa
Feb 19, 2017 Phillipa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a long read. But, more than that, it is a long-winded read.

There are whole pages describing verses from the Torah, which I found generally distracting and not additive to the story whatsoever. I found them especially strange as the author described himself as not a very religious Jew, who had only learnt enough to get thru his Bar Mitzvah. (about half way thru I realised I could just skim past these)

It is also a very meandering story, which is the style of story that the author regularl
...more
Alice Burba
Feb 04, 2017 Alice Burba rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the Audible version of this book (why can I not find that version on Goodreads?).

Wow. Bravo Daniel Mendelsohn, and bravo Bronson Pinchot. Perhaps the best Audible performance I have ever heard.

I loved this book. While it is a long read/listen, I was mesmerized by Mendelsohn's journey in search of the stories of his family. My husband and I have been dabbling in genealogy and a few years ago we too traveled to Eastern Europe (Southern Czech Republic & Wroclov, Poland) to find
...more
Karen
Nov 24, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
From Bereishit to Vayeira, Mendelshohn weaves together Torah study, the Holocaust, a town in the Ukraine, the stories of the 48 surviving Jews of the 6,000 who lived in that town before the war, a history of a family who were among those 6,000 Jews and his personal history in a quest for understanding the human experience of suffering. The structure and the storytelling are brilliant, although the details are occasionally tedious. I was reminded of reading Bible passages of rules or lists of nam ...more
puppitypup
Oct 22, 2015 puppitypup rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Non Fiction/History An emotional read

Mr. Mendelsohn is a natural born storyteller, born into and nurtured by a family of storytellers, especially the grandfather he held so dear. His tale begins as a wistful coming of age story, filled with warm remembrances of family long gone, but this narrative slowly and inexorably turns into a tale of soul-wrenching horror.

This is not a dry, emotionless tome, reciting facts on a long ago event. Mendelsohn brings these six lost family members to life so vivi
...more
Canice
Dec 21, 2016 Canice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a most unusual take on a Holocaust story. I'll defer the to the synopsis here on GR for an accurate overview, but I'll say that by about page 100 I was considering giving up. The weaving of past and present, memoir and history, all felt a bit too complex for my linear mind. But then, suddenly, I was captivated. Couldn't stop reading. Had to follow along with each new discovery, dead end, hopeful lead, fruitless conversation, inspiring conversation, unexpected phone call.... So glad I he ...more
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Coffee Talk: February 2014 BoM,Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million 41 26 Feb 24, 2014 08:43PM  
Great read 4 29 Dec 09, 2012 04:42AM  
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“Closeness can lead to emotions other than love. It's the ones who have been too intimate with you, lived in too close quarters, seen too much of your pain or envy or, perhaps more than anything, your shame, who, at the crucial moment, can be too easy to cut out, to exile, to expel, to kill off.” 13 likes
“As ingenious as this explanation is, it seems to me to miss entirely the emotional significance of the text- its beautiful and beautifully economical evocation of certain difficult feelings that most ordinary people, at least, are all too familiar with: searing regret for the past we must abandon, tragic longing for what must be left behind. (...) Still, perhaps that's the pagan, the Hellenist in me talking. (Rabbi Friedman, by contrast, cannot bring himself even to contemplate that what the people of Sodom intend to do to the two male angels, as they crowd around Lot's house at the beginning of the narrative, is to rape them, and interpretation blandly accepted by Rashi, who blithely points out thta if the Sodomites hadn't wanted sexual pleasure from the angels, Lot wouldn't have suggested, as he rather startingly does, that the Sodomites take his two daughter as subsitutes. But then, Rashi was French.)

It is this temperamental failure to understand Sodom in its own context, as an ancient metropolis of the Near East, as a site of sophisticated, even decadent delights and hyper-civilized beauties, that results in the commentator's inability to see the true meaning of the two crucial elements of this story: the angel's command to Lot's family not to turn and look back at the city they are fleeing, and the transformation of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt. For if you see Sodom as beautiful -which it will seem to be all the more so, no doubt, for having to be abandoned and lost forever, precisely the way in which, say, relatives who are dead are always somehow more beautiful and good than those who still live- then it seems clear that Lot and his family are commanded not to look back at it not as a punishment, but for a practical reason: because regret for what we have lost, for the pasts we have to abandon, often poisons any attempts to make a new life, which is what Lot and his family now must do, as Noah and his family once had to do, as indeed all those who survive awful annihilations must somehow do. This explanation, in turn, helps explain the form that the punishment of Lot's wife took- if indeed it was a punishment to begin with, which I personally do not believe it was, since to me it seems far more like a natural process, the inevitable outcome of her character. For those who are compelled by their natures always to be looking back at what has been, rather than forward into the future, the great danger is tears, the unstoppable weeping that the Greeks, if not the author of Genesis, knew was not only a pain but a narcotic pleasure, too: a mournful contemplation so flawless, so crystalline, that it can, in the end, immobilize you.”
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