Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books Outwitting History discussion


20 views
an accidental archivist

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Judy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy I loved this book, which is mostly a memoir of Aaron Lansky, who began collecting old Yiddish books from mostly elderly Jews in and around New York. He writes plainly yet movingly about becoming almost an adopted grandson, who could not leave with the books until the donors had also fed him cake, rugelach, and tea, and as well as stories from their own lives. Lansky's work in saving much of Yiddish literature from the landfills is a heartwarming story, and his work in helping to keep Yiddish literature and culture alive is inspiring.


message 2: by Cindy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cindy I also thought this was a great book. Just an amazing story of a disappearing culture.


Carla Hi. I just joined Goodreads, and posted a few books I have read in the past couple of years, and "Outwitting History" is one of them, so I received a link to your comments. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I laughed out loud at the tiny band's decision that, henceforth, whenever they collected books in NYC, one would be the "designated eater", while the other two would do the work of hauling the books down to the truck! How funny, how human and how poignant. He gathered up old books, but he also imparted a respect for a nearly-lost culture.


Joyce Flagging this book to read! I learned of the Yiddish Book Center when I ordered a CD of Yiddish stories in translation, read by celebs like Jerry Stiller. I started to get the Center's magazine, Pak'n Treger, which has to be one of the most beautifully produced journals I've ever seen.

Carla, we should take a field trip to the Center which is out near Amherst, Mass.


Bill Sweet If you liked this, you should read Words on Fire, by Dovid Katz. A sweeping history of Yiddish, which I ultimately found infuriating, to learn that, yes, the Nazis landed a blow to yiddish culture, but the attack had been launched earlier by Jews eager to assimilate or supplant the resuscitated Hebrew as the national language of Israel.


Lora I'm not jewish, but a book lover. By the time I was halfway through this book, I wanted to reach out to every Jew I met and embrace them and their disappearing culture. Then I got to thinking about other cultures that have been disappearing...then I got to wondering more about my own, and valuing the 'old fashioned' aspects more.
I also work to have something worth passing on to my children- love of history, books, and more.
This is one book I never expected would strike so deeply and cause meaningful change in my own life. I thought it was just about books, lol.


back to top