Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Outwitting History-Aaron Lansky

Outwitting History- Aaron Lansky

the facts
satisfaction:  up
pages: 312
gender: M
nationality: USA
year: 2004
Non fiction

 Written by the president of the Yiddish Book Centre, he chronicles the early years of collecting Yiddish books up to more or less the present.

I picked this up on a whim during a trip to the library and actually procrastinated reading it for a few months. I was worried it'd be a bit dull or too factual. Boy was I wrong! It's a highly readable account of meeting people, saving a language and culture, and the organizational trials and tribulations of a non-profit catering for a minority interest. Except, as Lansky points out, Yiddish is actually less of a minority interest than most people would realize.

I particularly loved his insistence on the books forming a bridge. Though Yiddish is far from a growing language of native speakers, it nevertheless is a language that encodes the quotidian and often ignored lower class culture that has been more or less wiped out and dispersed. For a comprehensive view of history, something is necessary for all cultures, minority of otherwise, then gaps must not be tolerated. In saving so many Yiddish books from trash heaps, Lansky has helped immensely, writes accessibly, and for that I applaud him.

I definitely recommend this book to historians, people who like books, Jewish people whether religious or not, people who speak other minority languages, non-profit sector workers, and Yiddish speakers.

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