Many family genealogists have wondered how to make sense of the disparate collection of documents - and gaps in documentation - that they've been able to unearth about their ancestors, but few have succeeded as Andrew Sanders has in reconstructing the lives of their forebears. Using documents and known historical facts as a starting point, he has engaged in an extensively researched imaginary dialogue with his ancestors to create a fully drawn portrait of his family. The result is a rich narrative that reads like a novel, drawing us into the lives of one Jewish family caught in the maelstrom of Eastern European history.
In the mid-eighteenth century, the Austrian emperor Charles VI decreed that in the Czech provinces, only the oldest son of a Jewish family could marry. What were the others to do? They found heaven, or so they thought, in the nearby land of Hungary. The Magyars - ethnic Hungarians - welcomed anyone willing to learn their difficult language and commit to their nationality. The Bohemian, Moravian, as well as some Austrian and Silesian Jews were enthusiastic in accepting that invitation. They became Hungarian Jews, built a successful Western European-style country for their hosts, and subsequently, their effort was rewarded by the massacre of over half a million of them at the hands of the Hungarian Nazis.
This detailed story of one such family makes an engaging read for anyone interested in Hungarian Jewry, genealogy, or families.
|Publisher:||Gefen Publishing House|
|Product dimensions:||7.00(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.10(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As is clearly indicated on the jacket cover, the author of this book is Andrew Sanders and not David Lawrence Young. Despite having written B&N to correct this numerous times, they seem unable to correct their own website. All that aside, this is an excellent and even an outstanding book, which I highly recommend. I obtained a copy of the book from Israel, so my review may pre-date its release in the U.S. I think the book is outstanding, both as a work of historical fiction depicting the story of a particular family, and as a work that conveys the history and conditions that defined a way of life and the lives of thousands of people in the 19th and 20th centuries. In my opinion, this book should be mandatory reading for anyone with a Jewish-Hungarian background, and is highly recommended for anyone whose ancestors lived during the 19th century in the central European states such as Germany, Austria, Moravia, Slovakia, etc. On one level, it is a historically accurate portrayal of a family in a particular time and place and their hopes, aspirations, dilemmas, choices and the constraints that shaped their lives, covering the factors that led to the migrations from Moravia and why and how the immigrants became "Magyars," and what that meant to them and the country. Historically it addresses the conflict between assimilation and becoming a "native" of the country of residence versus maintaining ethnic and religious identity: The challenges of being always an "alien" in the country of residence. On another, and to me, more important level, the author has brought to life real people with whom the reader identifies and about whom one cares. Like all good historical fiction, the characters are brought to life, are "real" and we become involved in the narrative of their lives and care about what happens to them. Whose family they are becomes incidental. It is historical fiction. It is no different than the story of any other historical figure - it's just in this instance the characters happen to be the author's ancestors. But that is incidental; what is important is the vitality brought to these characters. I also thought that this book could serve as a model for all who would write the story of their own ancestors. It's not finding this document or discovering that familial connection that makes such narratives vital, but bringing the people to life and making us care about them and what happens to them that are paramount. Highly recommended!!