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Publisher's Summary

Recipient of the MacArthur “genius” fellowship and founder of the National Yiddish Book Center, Lansky recounts his efforts to rescue the world’s abandoned Yiddish-language books before they pass out of existence. Outwitting History follows Lansky’s far-flung travels and features the engaging men and women he meets along the way.

©2004 Aaron Lansky (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

“Lansky’s account of salvaging books is both hilarious and moving, filled with Jewish humor... and touching accounts of what were once thriving Jewish communities in Europe.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • BabsD
  • Jersey City, NJ, United States
  • 08-05-11

I laughed, I cried

I saw Aaron Lansky interviewed in the Sholem Aleichem documentary recently, and I thought that he was articulate and entertaining. I'm SO glad I listened to this book rather than just read it. Although I know some Yiddish, it was so lovely to hear the book read by the narrator----whose Yiddish seemed native. The book itself is so much more than the story of Lansky's book center. It includes wonderful portraits of the people who owned the books, touching stories about Lansky's travels, from a tiny community in Cuba to the bombed-out synagogue in Argentina to the towns in Latvia, Estonia, and Belorus, where Jews had no Yiddish books and yearned for them. Loved the story about Arlo Guthrie and his mom, about the woman in England who had no idea of her Polish husband's political tracts, of the fight to save the Newark library's collections, and many many more. Loved the jokes, menus, poetry, even tales of romance: all of the touching stories about a language and a people who have suffered so greatly and whose culture and language was almost decimated......but, with people like Lansky and his friends, live on. I listened to this book during long commutes....sometimes I had trouble seeing the road because of the tears in my eyes.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating and moving story. Learned alot

Learned a lot about modern Jewish history. the book is very wwll written and the story is very engaging.

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A Truly Great Story of Rescue

What did you love best about Outwitting History?

It is rare to be so captivated by a book from the first moment."Outwitting History" is a book of immense power, told about the saving of a people's literature from oblivion. Aaron Lansky is to be applauded for what he has succeeded in accomplishing and in relating it to the world in such a powerful way. I cannot begin to express my appreciation for his saving the mama loshon--the language of my mother, Yiddish, from extinction.

Which scene was your favorite?

Each chapter has its own specialness.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

This book is truly worthy of a one sitting listen.

Any additional comments?

Aaron Lansky is the author of the book and to my mind its hero. He does a superb job on all accounts. The narrator,George Guidall's, English and Yiddish are both beautiful. I was convinced that it was Lansky himself. This is one book not to be missed. A friend in Sydney, Australia suggested the book to me. I am forever grateful. I cannot stop talking about how wonderful this audiobook is.