Jacob's Cane: A Jewish Family's Journey from the Four Lands of Lithuania to the Ports of London and Baltimore; A Memoir in Five Generations

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Drawn to an image of her great-grandfather’s ornately carved cane, scholar Elisa New embarked on a journey to discover the origins of her precious family heirloom. Treading back across the paths of her ancestors, she travels from Baltimore to the Baltic to London in order to find and understand an immigrant world profoundly affected by modern German culture, from the Enlightenment through the Holocaust. Deeply ambitious in its narrative sweep, Jacob’s Cane captures the rich texture of life on several continents ...

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Crisp, clean new hardcover in unclipped dustjacket. Tight and square with sharp corners. NY: Basic Books, 2009. 328 pages. First Edition with full number line, 1st printing. - - ... Wrapped, boxed and promptly shipped with tracking provided. Read more Show Less

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Jacob's Cane: A Jewish Family's Journey from the Four Lands of Lithuania to the Ports of London and Baltimore; A M

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Overview

Drawn to an image of her great-grandfather’s ornately carved cane, scholar Elisa New embarked on a journey to discover the origins of her precious family heirloom. Treading back across the paths of her ancestors, she travels from Baltimore to the Baltic to London in order to find and understand an immigrant world profoundly affected by modern German culture, from the Enlightenment through the Holocaust. Deeply ambitious in its narrative sweep, Jacob’s Cane captures the rich texture of life on several continents as New’s family searches to establish itself in the tobacco trade. A fascinating history of one family’s story of progress, innovation, and struggle, Jacob’s Cane will change the way we think about the Jewish American experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Harvard English professor New (The Line's Eye)—wife of former Harvard president and current Obama adviser Larry Summers—traces the journeys of two family patriarchs from Eastern Europe as she unravels the mysterious etchings on her great-grandfather's elegant cane. Great-grandfather Jacob Levy and great-great-uncle Bernhard Baron, both Jewish immigrants from the Baltic states, met in Baltimore, become friends and joined their families through marriage, but later became bitter rivals. Bernhard moved to London, where he became a tobacco magnate and legendary philanthropist who implemented a progressive set of workers' benefits. His Black Cat London factory is hailed today as a great art deco achievement. Jacob was a scholar, inventor and businessman who made a quixotic 1914 congressional run as the Socialist Party candidate. He founded a firm that today is a giant textile processor. But three of his sons chose to join Bernhard in London and changed their names to Baron. Although meandering and wordy, this engrossing memoir/family history vivifies the singular successes and tragedies of a memorable clan and should inspire readers to seek out their own family stories. B&w illus. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465015252
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 9/21/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Elisa New is professor of English and American literature and language at Harvard University. She is the author of The Line’s Eye and The Regenerate Lyric. She lives with her husband, economist Larry Summers, in Brookline, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Connecting Thread

    An absorbing, personal book tracing the author's roots from Czarist Russia, Latvia,and finally the United States. Elisa New's journey began because of a cane found in an aunts closet and covered journey's through out Europe in a quest to find her roots. While I'm not Jewish-some of my roots come from Eastern Europe and I related fully with descriptions of her travels(something many of us wish we could do). Sometimes sad(see holocaust)-sometimes happy(finding lost family), a good book for anyone interested in Jewish,Eastern European,or personal histories.

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    Posted December 25, 2009

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    Posted November 10, 2009

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