The Lost

  • by Daniel Mendelsohn
  • Narrated by Bronson Pinchot
  • 22 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this rich and riveting narrative, a writer's search for the truth behind his family's tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic - part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly detective work - that brilliantly explores the nature of time and memory, family and history.
The Lost begins as the story of a boy who grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust - an unmentionable subject that gripped his imagination from earliest childhood. Decades later, spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939 and tantalized by fragmentary tales of a terrible betrayal, Daniel Mendelsohn sets out to find the remaining eyewitnesses to his relatives' fates. That quest eventually takes him to a dozen countries on four continents and forces him to confront the wrenching discrepancies between the histories we live and the stories we tell. And it leads him, finally, back to the small Ukrainian town where his family's story began and where the solution to a decades-old mystery awaits him.
Deftly moving between past and present, interweaving a world-wandering odyssey with childhood memories of a now-lost generation of immigrant Jews and provocative ruminations on biblical texts and Jewish history, The Lost transforms the story of one family into a profound, morally searching meditation on our fragile hold on the past. Deeply personal, grippingly suspenseful, and beautifully written, this literary tour de force illuminates all that is lost, and found, in the passage of time.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Exquisite Narration, Breathtakingly Heartfelt Book

This book from a man, a scholar and Classicist, who has spent his life looking back, who travels the world to find the stories of his uncle, aunt, wife and four daughters, reads like a memoir, a detective story, a moral fable, even a romance. It is well-paced and engaging to the point that I put my life on hold just to keep finding out: And then what?
Everyone becomes a fully fleshed-out person: the lost; the old man in Poland who remembers, "The whole town was talking about it; the bodies were there the next day;" the woman in Australia who remembers it all but will die if she has to talk on record; all the way to Mendelsohn himself whose memories range from the childlike to the full-blown, in-your-face.
There are what seem to be digressions for stories from the Torah, from history, from Greek tragedies, but all come to a point. The summations are so beautiful, and the relevance so pointed that they are beyond moving. Simply stunning. Simply lovely.
And Pinchot gives voice to it all, the love, the frustration and anguish, the chuckles and joy. No, really, I mean it. This is the most dramatic, most perfectly nuanced performance I've comes across all year. And trust me, I'm an audio-fanatic. I listen to books like it's the air I breathe.
Brilliant book. The re-imagining of what happened to 16 year old Ruchele will make you cry.
And you'll be grateful to bring her to life for at least that moment. Because despite the horror, at least she was breathing.
She was alive.
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- Gillian "SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!"

Lost in Parentheses

I was about half way done with this book when I decided to put it aside for a while. This is dangerous because it means I might not ever pick it up again to finish it, but you never know…

The book was not easy to get through. Not because of the difficult subject matter, Holocaust stories and memoirs are never really easy to read, but rather because of the writing style.

The content was great, I have nothing to critique there… and really, how can you critique a person’s personal memories or recollections? I actually found this story more heart-rending than many of the other books I’ve read of the Holocaust. The author really knows how to connect and make the reader contemplate things deeply. He is very skilled at conveying the mood and feel of the scenes, it was very poignant.

My complaint is that the book needed some serious hard-core editing. As good as the narrative may have been, it was so full of tangents and ramblings; it veered off course so many times I found it very difficult to follow.

Another Goodreads reviewer describes it perfectly: “Mendelsohn never used one comma in a sentence where he could insert three or four. I was often lost in sentences wandering through parenthetical phrase after parenthetical phrase until I had to back up and take them out in turn in order to tack the beginning of the sentence onto the end and make some sense of the thing”.

I listened to the audiobook and had the same experience. I didn’t rewind much to gain better clarity because had I done so it would have taken me about a year to get through the book.

When the author stayed put it was interesting, so if you have the patience to slog through the whirlwind more power to you!
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- Simone "Follow me on Goodreads too!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-09-2016
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.