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

Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books - Aaron Lansky This is definitely one of the best books I have read this year. Once I picked it up, I had go on until I was finished. This is the story of Aaron Lansky and his quest to save Yiddish books. At a time when even most Jews had given Yiddish up as dead, Lansky had the vision to rescue the lost books of Yiddish and then place them in the hands of people who needed them. So, pulling up his bootstraps, with help from various people, and a lot of guts, he went around collecting books, leading to the eventual foundation of the National Yiddish Book Center. The stories in the book vary from very moving to humorous. From digging books out of dumpsters to meeting with elderly Jews who passed their collections to him one book at a time, Lansky's adventures take him around the world. And all this before the Internet was around. We take for granted that you can digitize books now (and they do digitize books now), but back in the early 90s, the technology to do so was brand new, untried. We also get to see him travel from Africa to Europe and even Latin America and the Soviet Union. And yet, for all the books he saves, there are so many lost. And indeed, Yiddish still is a relatively small language, so to speak, and one that is endangered. But it is also a language of history, of culture, of memory, and one that a new generation now wishes to discover, or rediscover, as a way to get to know its heritage. So there is some hope. ]In the process of reading the book, you also get some lessons in the history of Yiddish and a little lesson in world history as well. So it makes for a very good book to read. If you are a reader who likes to read about books, who likes a good tale, and a little history, then this is definitely a book for you. It may, as it did for me, make you wish you could go out and read some of the many works and authors that Lansky mentions in the book. Sadly, I can't read Yiddish, but I can hope maybe to get a hold of one of the new translations of Yiddish works the NYBC is putting out (it would be nicer if one day I could learn to actually read the language). In the meantime, get a hold of this book.