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Lost in America: A Journey With My Father | [Sherwin B. Nuland]

Lost in America: A Journey With My Father

National Book Award winning author Sherwin Nuland introduces his father, a Russian immigrant who dreamed of a better life in America but found the opposite. In this memoir, we see what it cost Nuland to admit the inextricable ties between father and son and to accept the burden of his father's legacy.
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Publisher's Summary

He walks with me through every day of my life, in that unsteady, faltering gait that so embarrassed me when I was a boy. Always, he is holding fast to the upper part of my right arm. As we make our way together, my father - I called him Daddy when I was small, because it sounded so American and that is how he so desperately wanted things to seem - is speaking in the idiosyncratic rhythms of a self-constructed English.

So Sherwin Nuland introduces Meyer Nudelman, his father, a man whose presence continues to haunt Nuland to this day. Meyer Nudelman came to America from Russia at the turn of the 20th century, when he was 19. Pursuing the immigrant's dream of a better life but finding the opposite, he lived an endless round of frustration, despair, anger, and loss: overwhelmed by the premature deaths of his first son and wife; his oldest surviving son disabled by rheumatic fever in his teens; his youngest son, Sherwin, dutiful but defiant, caring for him as his life, beset by illness and fierce bitterness, wound to its unalterable end.

Lost in America is equally revealing about the author himself. We see what it cost him to admit the inextricable ties between father and son and to accept the burden of his father's legacy. In Lost in America, Sherwin Nuland has written a memoir at once timeless and universal.

©2003 Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland; (P)2003 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Written with enormous empathy, yet without a hint of sentimentality, Nuland's memoir is both heartbreaking and breathtaking" (Publishers Weekly)
"Nuland is masterly at holding to the vulnerable son's point of view and keeping the reader inside the experience. He brilliantly conveys the inner experience of depression as an effect on the emotional dynamics of family life." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (24 )
5 star
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3.7 (3 )
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3.7 (3 )
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  •  
    Marilyn Bellevue, WA, USA 03-08-03
    Marilyn Bellevue, WA, USA 03-08-03 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Exploring intergenerational legacies"

    I couldn't stop listening to this book. "Riveting" is an overused word but it describes this text. The author shares with us a stark, honest exploration of his family's history, dynamics and legacy of his parents' immigrant experience. His prose is clear and engaging, and the story he tells spares no one--least of all himself. This book helps me understand the tremendous price paid by this family of first and second generation immigrants in search of the American dream. And yet, in the end, it's a story of redemption and forgiveness and hope. A brave and healing tale.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary West Orange, NJ, USA 10-26-03
    Gary West Orange, NJ, USA 10-26-03 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Needed a tighter editing"

    This book is an intensely personal story, and such stories tend to dwell on details that are of interest only to the people closest to them. For a more general market, a tight editing is needed - and this book didn't get it. Much of the story is interesting, but it could have been told in half the time.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith A Fox SanFrancisco, CA USA 09-10-03
    Judith A Fox SanFrancisco, CA USA 09-10-03 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "1st gen. american's personal story of self,family"

    honest, unsparing and profoundly moving- perhaps more so for me as a grandchild of russian jewish immigrants. i could hear my grandparents through his rendition of yiddish-english. i was transported back to my childhood in an extended family that was lost as the generations move further and further away from the shtetl. perhaps most importantly, his book cut a window into the immigrant generation, and to my parents, and by doing so helped me along in my own journey towards understanding.


    i binged listened to this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter Seattle, WA, USA 10-19-03
    Walter Seattle, WA, USA 10-19-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Takes Prose to Previously Unseen Shades of Purple"

    I checked this book out on the strength of the adulatory reviews contained here. Big mistake. This is hands-down the most overwritten, ploddingly morose book I have encountered in a long time. Mr. Nuland is not a writer, but he's apparently read some bad ones, and consequently thinks that the marks of serious literature are ubiquitous adverbs; tangled, portentous sentences; and the pervasive aroma of the thesaurus. (He's obviously never read Steven King's "On Writing.") "Depilatory armamentarium" (for "medicine cabinet") and "mucoid secretions" (for "tears") will remain in my memory as benchmarks of bad writing long after everything else about this self-pitying, insightless book has mercifully faded away.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Polly PA United States 07-29-10
    Polly PA United States 07-29-10 Member Since 2006
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    20
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    "The plight of the immigrant's family"

    My grandparents were Russian immigrants who arrived in the United States just after the turn of the 20th century. My father was born before the Great Depression, but I wasn't born until he was 50 years old. I can relate to the feelings Dr. Nuland describes in this book. I had a similar relationship with my father, who spoke Russian as a child and was quite "old fashioned," as he did with his. But, listening to this book allowed me to understand my father's life better. His parents died before I was born, but I imagine his father was much like Meyer Nudleman. I gained an appreciation for the immigrant's hopes for his children's futures and, in my situation, my father passed on his unfullfilled aspirations onto me. Dr. Nuland reads his own book with emotion like no one else could. I cannot imagine any listener with dry eyes at the end of this compelling memoir.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura La Grange, IL, USA 12-28-03
    Laura La Grange, IL, USA 12-28-03 Member Since 2000
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    "Not worth the time."

    Eh - not horrible, but I wouldn't recommend anyone invest the time. A whole lot of navel-gazing without much insight. Or, more accurately, without insight beyond alternating self-flagellation and criticism of his father. And Nuland violates the rule that no book should use "sui generis" and "hegemony" more than three times each.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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