Outwitting History:
How a Young Man Rescued a Million Books and Saved a Vanishing Civilisation

Aaron Lansky

Souvenir Press 2004
A book review by Danny Yee © 2017 https://dannyreviews.com/
Outwitting History is a largely autobiographical account of Aaron Lansky's life work, physically rescuing works of Yiddish literature, from ageing or deceased individuals and organisations, and establishing the Yiddish Book Center. This may seem like an esoteric topic, but Lansky sets this in its broader context and mixes in entertaining personal vignettes, resulting in a lively book which should have some appeal to anyone with an interest in books, literature and literary history, even if they have no special interest in Yiddish.

There are adventures going into people's houses and decrepit buildings, navigating the politics of factions and personalities, driving trucks, and so forth. Embedded in that are some of the stories of the people handing over the books, mostly Jewish migrants who came from Eastern Europe to the United States. Threaded through all that is a potted literary history of Yiddish itself. And somehow that mish-mash works.

July 2017

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Related reviews:
- Dovid Katz - Words on Fire: The Unfinished Story of Yiddish
- more Hebrew + Yiddish literature
- more diaries + autobiography
%T Outwitting History
%S How a Young Man Rescued a Million Books and Saved a Vanishing Civilisation
%A Lansky, Aaron
%I Souvenir Press
%D 2004
%O paperback, notes
%G ISBN 0285637525
%P 316pp