This book documents the physical aspects of the lives of Hungarian Jews in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: the way they looked, the kind of neighborhoods and apartments they lived in, and the places where they worked.
The many historical photographs—there is at least one picture per page—and related text offers a virtual cross section of Hungarian society, a diverse group of the poor, the middle-class, and the wealthy. Regardless of whether they lived integrated within the majority society or in separate communities, whether they were assimilated Jews or Hasidim, they were an important and integral part of the nation. We have surprisingly few detailed accounts of their lifestyles—the world knows more about the circumstances of their deaths than about the way they lived. Much like piecing together an ancient sculpture from tiny shards found in an excavation, Koerner tries to reconstruct the many diverse lifestyles using fragmentary information and surviving photos.