Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century

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Product Details

$18.00  $16.74
Picador USA
Publish Date
5.3 X 8.2 X 1.1 inches | 0.65 pounds

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About the Author

Sarah Abrevaya Stein is the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Director of the Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, as well as Professor of History and the Maurice Amado Chair in Sephardic Studies at UCLA. She is the author or editor of several books, including Extraterritorial Dreams: European Citizenship, Sephardi Jews, and the Ottoman Twentieth Century and Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce. The recipient of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, three National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and two National Jewish Book Awards, Stein lives with her family in Santa Monica, CA


Stein, a U.C.L.A. historian, has ferocious research talents . . . and a writing voice that is admirably light and human . . . [She] has produced a superb and touching book about the frailty of ties that hold together places and people. --Matti Friedman, The New York Times Book Review

Jewish past is visible only in the flickering light of remembrance. In Family Papers, Stein skillfully draws a map of this memory-scape and poignantly traces its travails. --Benjamin Balint, The Wall Street Journal

An extraordinary work of historical research, but it is much more personal, even intimate, than most scholarship . . . Family Papers is more than a fascinating account of the Levys' gradual transformation from Ottoman subjects into Westerners and their dispersal throughout the world. It is also an opportunity to hear a small but poignant set of voices break through the silence that we have faced so far about the Jews of Greece. Stein's prodigious research, a true labor of love, gives voice to some of those who have been silenced. --Alexander Nehamas, Jewish Review of Books

[A] remarkable book . . . Stein is able to summon her characters with the depth and feeling of a novelist. --The Economist

Remarkable . . . rigorously researched . . . Readers will rejoice at every miraculous story of survival, of which there are a few, and will mourn every death, of which there are many. --Elaine Margolin, Los Angeles Review of Books

Remarkable . . . Family Papers reflects the possibilities of modernity, the richness of Ottoman Jewry, and the nostalgia of diaspora consciousness. [Stein's] deeply intimate portraits of the Levy family present "'how this family loved and quarreled, struggled and succeeded, clung to one another and watched the ties that once bound them slip from their grasp.'" --Hilit Surowitz-Israel, Lilith

A fascinating history . . . [with] incomparable sources . . . A masterful multigenerational reconstruction of a family's life. --Kirkus (starred review)

A tour de force . . . A moving, wonderfully written history of a fascinating family that will attract readers of history and those interested in Judaic studies. --Library Journal (starred review)

A fascinating history . . . [Stein's] spirited account, which is greatly enhanced by its many photos, makes a fine contribution to the field of modern Jewish studies. --Publishers Weekly

"From Ottoman Salonika to Rio de Janeiro, Paris, and beyond, Sarah Abrevaya Stein follows the fascinating Levy family over five generations. Letters, memoirs, and interviews reveal love and hate, success and shameful secrets both. An extraordinary Sephardic saga, brilliantly told!" --Natalie Zemon Davis, author of Trickster Travels

"By turns intimate and expansive, mournful and celebratory, Sarah Abrevaya Stein's Family Papers mines a remarkable trove of letters to detail the dramatically shifting fortunes of one extended Sephardic clan. As she brings us inside the lives and lines of her border-crossing, multigenerational cast of correspondents, Stein also makes expert use of her skills as cultural historian, textual detective, and savvy social cartographer to map the fate of a fading world." --Adina Hoffman, author of Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City

"Gripping, inspiring, and heartbreaking, Family Papers follows one Sephardic Jewish family from Salonica (now Thessaloniki, Greece) to the far corners of the world and through the most turbulent decades of the twentieth century. The author has accomplished something miraculous; by tracking down every scrap she could find, from Manchester and Johannesburg to Rio and Bombay, and reconstructing individual lives and all too many tragic deaths, this master of the craft makes the Levy family's story everyone's. This is history as it should be written now: approachable, yet full of insight, alert to every global resonance, and always insistent on getting as close to the truth as possible." --Lynn Hunt, author of History: Why It Matters

"Sarah Abrevaya Stein is a historian--and a storyteller--of consummate skill. In Family Papers, she has produced a lucid, intimate portrait of Sephardic Jews, of ties that bind and memories cherished and elided." --Steven J. Zipperstein, author of Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History