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An echo in my blood : the search for a family's hidden past /
Alan Weisman.
1st ed.
New York : Harcourt Brace, c1999.
426 p. : ports. ; 24 cm.
More Details
New York : Harcourt Brace, c1999.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [409]-411) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1999-09-01:
In 1992, when Weisman's parents died, his aunt embraced him and his sister. "Now you're orphans, just like us," she murmured. A year later, in Chernobyl, he told a local official, "You know, my father was...from [the] Ukraine." At age 11, however, his father had fled to the United States after his father was assassinated. But was it the White Army Cossacks or the Bolsheviks (as his militantly anti-Communist father insisted) who murdered his grandfather? In this elegant memoir, Weisman ties together his complicated relationship with his oppressive father and his present job reporting on the "unprecedented societal dislocation" taking place in the Third World today. The result is remarkable, sensitive history, where the present supplies meaning to the past, and the past provides context for the present. "Displaced people create new histories, or revise old ones, to define themselves in alien settings," observes Weisman. "Family secrets can't really be keptÄthe facts may dissolve away, but their consequences remain." Highly recommended.ÄDavid Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1999-09-13:
For the children of Jewish immigrants who arrived in the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century, growing up American was both a fortune and a curse. A childhood free from pogroms and persecution came at the cost of a severed genealogy. Forced identity changes, destroyed documents and a reluctance to record the travails of the old country often left first-generation American Jews ignorant of their most immediate family history. Weisman (Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World), a world-traveled journalist and the son of Ukrainian Jews who fled the massacres of the Russian Civil War in 1923, began his research while on assignment in Chernobyl. This book is his effort to come to terms with the disparity between his own privileged life and his father's struggle to make his name in a new country. Weisman weaves his childhood memories with the received stories of his many aunts and uncles. He then tackles the veracity of what he calls "congenital truths" by returning to his father's birthplace of Mala Viska, a small village between Kiev and Odessa, where he tries to fill the gaps in his family's clouded history. Weisman's narrative sometimes risks becoming monotonous, as segments are weighed down by excessive detail and incongruous discourses on his research into environmental hazards in South America and an unlucky romance with an Argentine woman who shares his family name. But Weisman has a gift for language, and his personal search for family and identity will move anyone who recognizes the universality of love, loss and humanity. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, August 1999
Booklist, September 1999
Library Journal, September 1999
Publishers Weekly, September 1999
Washington Post, February 2000
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
Throughout his childhood in Minneapolis, Alan Weisman was told that his grandfather was killed by Communists in the Ukraine at the turn of the century. When, as an adult, he meets a long-estranged uncle who tells a very different version of the story, Alan embarks on a search for the truth that takes him to the chemical ruin of Chernobyl and back in time to the Bolshevik Revolution. He discovers the paradoxical rationale for his father's vehement political and social conservatism as well as a more universal truth: that all immigrant families, in order to survive in a new world, must create protective family myths. One of these myths hides the true fate of his grandfather-a nightmare too terrible to express. At once an examination of his rootless generation and a look at the hopes and dreams of his forefathers, An Echo in My Blood takes you from the secret heart of an America you might not recognize to the pogroms of turn-of-the-century Kiev.

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