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Lost in America: A Journey with My Father

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  161 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
A writer renowned for his insight into the mysteries of the body now gives us a lambent and profoundly moving book about the mysteries of family. At its center lies Sherwin Nuland’s Rembrandtesque portrait of his father, Meyer Nudelman, a Jewish garment worker who came to America in the early years of the last century but remained an eternal outsider. Awkward in speech and ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2003)
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Feb 23, 2017 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sherwin B. Nuland, was an American medical surgeon and writer who taught
bioethics, history of medicine, and medicine at Yale School of medicine.

I've owned his National Book-Award, and Pulitzer Finalist, "How We Die, Reflections of Life's Final Chapter", for years, and shamefully haven't read it yet, but
"Lost In America" the book choice that my Jewish book club is reading for March.
Sherwin died at the age of 83...... just three years ago in 2014.

"Lost in America" is a an immigrant memo
David P
Nov 27, 2012 David P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Meyer Nudelman, who emigrated to America in search of a better life but ended with hard work, chronic sickness, poverty and trouble. Lost in America, indeed: to the end of his life, his main language remained Yiddish, supplemented by mangled English hidden behind a thick accent.

It is also the growing-up story of the book's author, Meyer's son Sherwin Nuland, initially Shabtai ("Shepsl") Nudelman, named for the day of Sabbath. Sherwin's story tells of an American success --
Esthy Hersch
Jul 29, 2014 Esthy Hersch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A touching memoir
Mary Blye
Mar 15, 2017 Mary Blye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found it difficult to read about the author's feelings of shame and even revulsion towards his father, but that's his story, and by and large, he behaved as a decent son despite his feelings. Yes, many of us also struggle with ambivalent feelings towards our parents, but I squirmed as I thought about how his unhappy father might feel being so exposed to the world.

The book was beautifully written, though, and helped me better understand the history of American Jews.

I do not understand why the
James Lundy
Apr 23, 2008 James Lundy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are attached to worthless things
As the current advertising campaign for the Marines states, "If you wrote a book about your life, would anyone want to read it?" Well, that's the question that kept nudging me as I read Sherwin Nuland's account of his life with his father. I was waiting for something to happen and it never did. Here is another book about a dysfunctional Jewish family, with all the guilt, death, hardship, illness, poverty, etc. you've come to expect from this type of account. However, it goes nowhere. It strikes ...more
Aug 16, 2011 Michale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Touching memoir of the expectations placed upon us by parents whose very origins and motives may forever remain enigmatic. I admire Nuland's unflinching descriptions of so many painful childhood episodes in his poor, Jewish, immigrant family, as well as his acknowledgement of the embarrassment his father provoked in him as he grew up. It was only by escaping his family and going away to medical school that he unexpectedly learned of the existence of his father's medical condition. Then, instead ...more
Mar 27, 2010 Jose rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Depressing account. Pity that immigrants from early 20th century would have such a difficult time in America. Broken relationships with family and friends from the old country, difficulty gaining acceptance by natives here leading to shame of roots and overwhelming desire to melt into a WASP culture, of bland food, cookie cutter conformity and anodyne conversation. Hard to imagine this country where Sherwin needed so badly to be accepted and was so eager to break from his cultural roots. Turned ...more
Aug 19, 2015 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lost in America: A Journey With My Father / Sherwin B. Nuland. Nuland’s mother was warm, loving, and caring; she died when he was eleven, after several years of sickness. Nuland’s father, on the other hand, was difficult, discouraged, and inarticulate; he lived for decades with increasingly severe disabilities. Nuland’s parents were uneducated, impoverished Russian Jewish immigrants struggling to survive in New York City in the 1920s onward. Dr. Nuland—a highly regarded author and surgeon—descri ...more
Lucinda Porter
I am a huge Sherwin Nuland fan. Some of his books are my all-time favorites; this one was not. It started out magnificently, with probably the best description of depression I have ever read (yes, including Styron's). The book was very honest and well-written.

Perhaps it isn't fair that I only gave it 3 stars. After all, I am comparing Lost in America to Nuland's other books. Also, I may have been disappointed, filled with unmet expectations, again, not Nuland's fault. I thought is was going to
This was a really powerful memoir. It's a brave move to display such unadulterated dislike for one's father, while at the same time showing retrospective understanding for the fact that such dislike was maybe manifested in wanting renounce his Jewish immigrant culture rather than pinning it on one particular person. The fact that this book was written so far down into Nuland's life shows how much those year with his father truly affected him. It's also a little awkward reading about Nuland adole ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Wally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well told memoir although a bit self-absorbing. The title was, to me, a double entendre as it seems Dr. Nuland and his father were lost in america. But, that aside, I had real respect for what the author has accomplished, how he respected his father even though his father some times embarrassed, frustrated, etc. him. Accounts of early Jewish immigrants, especially those from eastern European countries, is always interesting -- not only did they have to learn a language, they also had experienc ...more
Rachel Terry
Jun 24, 2009 Rachel Terry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This memoir recounts a son's troubled relationship with his immigrant father. Nuland's father, Meyer Nudelman, is verbally abusive and embarassing to his sons. His disabilities require his sons to help him in many ways, but not until Nuland goes to medical school does he realize the cause of his father's disabilities: syphilis. And this syphilis was the cause of his mother's death years earlier. Interesting read, but awfully raw in places.
A searingly honest memoir of the author's childhood through college years as a 1st generation Jew of immigrant parents from the Eastern European shtetls. His difficult relationship with his father is told without artifice or ego, and is only possible with the wisdom that comes from full acceptance of human frailties and failings - including one's own. A story of gradual understanding and redemption. Highly recommended.
Etha Frenkel
May 07, 2014 Etha Frenkel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seemed to me to be a very searching and honest exploration of the author's problematic relationship with his father. In the end he manages to find positive aspects and memories and for the most part does this without it sounding artificial. I must admit that I have somewhat of a problem with such personal memoirs when the focus is on another family member who of course isn't able to add his point of view. I had the same problem with Roth's "Patrimony".
Nov 14, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this coming of age book even though his Bronx upbringing in a Yiddish home is very different from my own childhood. Sherwin B Nuland created a great coming of age book punctuated by his youthful disdain of his won father. However, later in life he realizes the value of the man.
I had never heard of Nuland before picking up this audio book from the library, but now I know that he has many books and I want to read mor of them
Jan 12, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book will pull on your heartstrings. It's a devastating and heartfelt account of growing up in immigrant New York. Nuland's difficult but loving relationship with his father speaks volumes about how one comes to terms with familial tensions borne out of tragedy. Somehow, somewhere, Nuland finds compassion and understanding with his father whom he renders in loving detail.
Kathy Reback
Jan 21, 2016 Kathy Reback rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written memoir that veers from the edges of both sentimentality and bitterness. And Nuland doesn't let himself off the hook from the same scrutiny with which he examines his family.
Jan 17, 2011 Reda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually am skeptical of autobiographies/memoirs: most seem to be a vechicle for tooting their own horn and/or justifying mistakes they have made. This memoir is neither. Very well written, not glossed over, honest.
Nov 27, 2007 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking story of a Jewish immigrant to NYC and the difficult yet ultimately successful life of his Dr. son.
Sep 07, 2008 Nina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sad autobiographical tale.
May 17, 2008 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sara by: My father
My Daddy gave me this book and it was a very touching read. It reminded him of his childhood which was very touching. Very well written!
Jun 30, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sherwin Nuland has written the books How We Live and How We Die. This is a tremendous book about his relationship with his father. It brought tears to my eyes in the last chapter.
J Eseltine
Feb 12, 2011 J Eseltine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written and very honest family portrait.
Judith Schwartz
I found this book very moving. Definitely worth a read.
Jul 23, 2009 Renate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
profound story with excellent narration
Ed Meyer
Well written, but very sad. Not very enlightening.
Jun 29, 2010 Tracey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very dry reading, I had to push myself through it. While it was written to be a father-son story it came across more so as a religious tutorial.
Patricia Joynton
Aug 11, 2012 Patricia Joynton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Love this author.
Mar 16, 2014 Eleanor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful, heartbreaking memoir describing the life of an immigrant father and its effect on his sensitive son.
Sep 21, 2009 Margaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
amazing in his willingness to be equally harsh with himself and with everyone else in his life, yet finding positive and hopeful notes as well.
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Sherwin Nuland was an American surgeon and author who taught bioethics and medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. He was the author of The New York Times bestseller and National Book Award winning How We Die, and has also written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New Republic, Time, and the New York Review of Books.

His NYTimes obit:
More about Sherwin B. Nuland...

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