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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Lansky's thoroughly entertaining book carries a dramatic subtitle, but the words are well deserved. An ordinary college student in 1973, Lansky enrolled in a course on the Holocaust. "As the semester progressed," he writes, "I found myself less interested in…how the Germans went about murdering the Jews of Europe, and more in the people whom they sought to destroy." The Ashkenazi culture that appealed to Lansky was largely recorded in Yiddish. But by the mid-20th century, Yiddish had lost much of its relevance among Jews, and unwanted Yiddish books were slowly succumbing to the Dumpsters.
Seven years later, invigorated by youth and idealism, Lansky embarked on a quest to save Yiddish books and prevent the obliteration of Yiddish culture. On a shoestring, he and his friends rented trucks and traveled from Massachusetts to New York, where they served as the beneficiaries of Yiddish collections from the personal libraries of elderly Jewish couples, and from the warehouses of failing Yiddish publishing houses. In time, Lansky's goal of the preservation of Yiddish literature took him as far away as Canada, Cuba, Argentina, and Lithuania.
Today, Lansky runs the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, a thriving organization that collects, digitizes, translates, and disseminates Yiddish literature. His moving, impressive book is a testament to vision, zeal, and determination, and an inspiration to anyone who has ever faced a seemingly insurmountable task. (Holiday 2004 Selection)