Cover of: Outwitting history by Aaron Lansky
Preview

Buy this book

When you buy books using these links the Internet Archive may earn a small commission.

Last edited by MARC Bot
August 18, 2021 | History
An edition of Outwitting History (2004)

Outwitting history

the amazing adventures of a man who rescued a million Yiddish books

1st ed.
  • 4.00
  • 1 Ratings
  • 4 Want to read
  • 0 Currently reading
  • 1 Have read

This edition was published in by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Written in English

316 pages

The great Yiddish scholar Max Weinreich was delivering a lecture in Finland when the Nazis invaded his native Poland. The lecture saved his life. He made his way to New York, where he opened his doors to new students. Many thought his work with hopeless -- especially since half of the world Yiddish speakers had been killed in the Holocaust. Asked why he persevered, Weinreich answered simply: "Because Yiddish has magic, it will outwit history." And so it has -- though in ways few could have imagined. In 1980, a 23-year-old student named Aaron Lansky set out to rescue the world's abandoned Yiddish books before it was too late. Precious volumes that had survived Hitler and Stalin were being passed down from older generations of Jewish immigrants to their non-Yiddish-speaking children -- only to be thrown away or destroyed. With little more than his own chutzpah, Lansky issued a worldwide appeal for unwanted Yiddish books, and the response was overwhelming. Outwitting History is an adventure tale filled with unforgettable characters and told with the exuberance of a man whose passion led him from house to house, country to country, collecting treasured books and heartfelt, often hilarious stories of the vibrant intellectual world these older Jews inhabited. Lansky and a team of young volunteers crisscrossed America, shlepping books from attics and basements, demolition sites and dumpsters, while schmoozing with their owners, who insisted on feeding them a little nosh -- gefilte fish, kasha, blintzes, latkes, kugel -- before handing over, one book at a time, their beloved literary heritage. When Lansky started out, experts believed that fewer than 70,000 Yiddish-language books still existed. 25 years and 1.5 million books later, the organization Lansky founded, the National Yiddish Book Center, is one of the largest and fastest-growing Jewish cultural groups in the world. As he takes us along on his groundbreaking journey, Lansky explores the roots of the Yiddish language and introduces us to the brilliant Yiddish writers -- from Mendele to Sholem Aleichem to I.B. Singer -- whose lasting cultural relevance is evident on every page. He shares the humor, tenacity, and love for the written word that unites Jewish immigrants with everyone who cares about the future of great literature. And he enables us to see how an almost-lost culture is the bridge between the old world and the future. - Jacket flap.

Read more

Previews available in: English

Edition Availability
Cover of: Outwitting History
Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books
November 2006, Recorded Books
Audio cassette in English
Cover of: Outwitting History
Outwitting History
March 3, 2005, Souvenir Press Ltd
Hardcover
Cover of: Outwitting History
Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books
September 2, 2005, Algonquin Books
Paperback in English
Cover of: Outwitting history
Outwitting history: the amazing adventures of a man who rescued a million Yiddish books
2004, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Hardcover in English - 1st ed.
Cover of: Outwitting history

Add another edition?

Outwitting History

First published in 2004



Work Description

The great Yiddish scholar Max Weinreich was delivering a lecture in Finland when the Nazis invaded his native Poland. The lecture saved his life. He made his way to New York, where he opened his doors to new students. Many thought his work with hopeless -- especially since half of the world Yiddish speakers had been killed in the Holocaust. Asked why he persevered, Weinreich answered simply: "Because Yiddish has magic, it will outwit history." And so it has -- though in ways few could have imagined. In 1980, a 23-year-old student named Aaron Lansky set out to rescue the world's abandoned Yiddish books before it was too late. Precious volumes that had survived Hitler and Stalin were being passed down from older generations of Jewish immigrants to their non-Yiddish-speaking children -- only to be thrown away or destroyed. With little more than his own chutzpah, Lansky issued a worldwide appeal for unwanted Yiddish books, and the response was overwhelming. Outwitting History is an adventure tale filled with unforgettable characters and told with the exuberance of a man whose passion led him from house to house, country to country, collecting treasured books and heartfelt, often hilarious stories of the vibrant intellectual world these older Jews inhabited. Lansky and a team of young volunteers crisscrossed America, shlepping books from attics and basements, demolition sites and dumpsters, while schmoozing with their owners, who insisted on feeding them a little nosh -- gefilte fish, kasha, blintzes, latkes, kugel -- before handing over, one book at a time, their beloved literary heritage. When Lansky started out, experts believed that fewer than 70,000 Yiddish-language books still existed. 25 years and 1.5 million books later, the organization Lansky founded, the National Yiddish Book Center, is one of the largest and fastest-growing Jewish cultural groups in the world. As he takes us along on his groundbreaking journey, Lansky explores the roots of the Yiddish language and introduces us to the brilliant Yiddish writers -- from Mendele to Sholem Aleichem to I.B. Singer -- whose lasting cultural relevance is evident on every page. He shares the humor, tenacity, and love for the written word that unites Jewish immigrants with everyone who cares about the future of great literature. And he enables us to see how an almost-lost culture is the bridge between the old world and the future. - Jacket flap.

Outwitting history

the amazing adventures of a man who rescued a million Yiddish books

1st ed.

This edition was published in by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, N.C.


Table of Contents

Part one : Learning Yiddish.
Out of the dumpster
Bread and wine
"Come back after Yontef!"
"What is Mendele doing in a fruit basket on the floor?"
Part two : On the road.
A ritual of cultural transmission
"Don't you know that Yiddish is dead?"
A day in the life
A brief history of Yiddish literature
"People are dying today who never died before"
"Pretty soon we'll have a whole forest in Israel and no more members here"
"Love and peace"
"Ostroff! Sea gate!"
The great Newark book heist
Part three : "Him I don't talk to!"
"You're a liar!"
"They're tearing apart the library"
A ghost in the attic
"If not higher"
"Hitler's fault"
Part four : Ganvenen dem grenets : crossing the border.
Squandered at the Concord
Kaddish
A job for the young
The four corners of the earth
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Part five : Bringing it all back home.
Der oylem redt : the world takes notice
A home of our own
Immortality
The valise at the bottom of the sea

Edition Notes

Includes bibliographical references (p. [313]-316).

Classifications

Dewey Decimal Class
002/.075
Library of Congress
Z987 .L25 2004

The Physical Object

Format
Hardcover
Pagination
316 p.
Number of pages
316
Dimensions
24 x x centimeters

ID Numbers

Open Library
OL3306748M
Internet Archive
outwittinghistor0000lans_r6m6
ISBN 10
1565124294
ISBN 13
9781565124295
LC Control Number
2004051587
Library Thing
171698
Goodreads
546068

Community Reviews (0)

Feedback?
No community reviews have been submitted for this work.

Lists containing this Book

History

Download catalog record: RDF / JSON / OPDS | Wikipedia citation
August 18, 2021 Edited by MARC Bot import existing book
December 8, 2020 Edited by MARC Bot import existing book
August 19, 2020 Edited by ImportBot import existing book
July 15, 2019 Edited by MARC Bot import existing book
April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user Imported from Scriblio MARC record.