Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books

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Algonquin Books, Sep 2, 2005 - History - 328 pages
18 Reviews
“Incredible . . . Inspiring . . . Important.” —Library Journal, starred review

“A marvelous yarn, loaded with near-calamitous adventures and characters as memorable as Singer creations.” —The New York Post
“What began as a quixotic journey was also a picaresque romp, a detective story, a profound history lesson, and a poignant evocation of a bygone world.” —The Boston Globe

“Every now and again a book with near-universal appeal comes along: Outwitting History is just such a book.” —The Sunday Oregonian

As a twenty-three-year-old graduate student, Aaron Lansky set out to save the world’s abandoned Yiddish books before it was too late. Today, more than a million books later, he has accomplished what has been called “the greatest cultural rescue effort in Jewish history.” In Outwitting History, Lansky shares his adventures as well as the poignant and often laugh-out-loud stories he heard as he traveled the country collecting books. Introducing us to a dazzling array of writers, he shows us how an almost-lost culture is the bridge between the old world and the future—and how the written word can unite everyone who believes in the power of great literature.

A Library Journal Best Book
A Massachusetts Book Award Winner in Nonfiction
An ALA Notable Book

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Colby_Glass - LibraryThing

The amazing story of a young man who discovers that as older Jews are dying, their Yiddish books are being discarded. He starts asking for the books and ends up creating a massive library of Yiddish literature, saving it from oblivion. Inspiring and exciting reading. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - voracious - LibraryThing

Aaron Lansky started out as a graduate student interested in Yiddish literature when he set out with some friends to look for Yiddish books. At the advice of his professor, they began combing areas of ... Read full review

Selected pages


On the Road
Him I Dont Talk To
Ganvenen dem GrenetsCrossing the Border
Bringing It All Back Home

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About the author (2005)

Aaron Lansky is the founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center (www.yiddishbookcenter.org) in Amherst, Massachusetts. The recipient of a MacArthur “genius” fellowship, he has helped fuel the renaissance of Jewish literature in this country. He lives with his family in western Massachusetts.

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