The Man Who Swam into History: The (Mostly) True Story of My Jewish Family by Robert A. RosenstoneThe Man Who Swam into History: The (Mostly) True Story of My Jewish Family by Robert A. Rosenstone

The Man Who Swam into History: The (Mostly) True Story of My Jewish Family

byRobert A. Rosenstone

Paperback | September 1, 2005

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The story begins with a grandfather who heroically escaped from Russia by swimming the Pruth River to Romania—or did he? Then there are stories of another grandfather who kept a lifelong mistress; grandmothers who were ignored except in the kitchen; migrations legal and illegal from Eastern Europe to Canada to California; racketeers on one side of the family and Communists on the other; and a West Coast adolescence in the McCarthy years. All of these (mostly true) stories form a Jewish family's history, a tale of dislocation and assimilation. But in the hands of award-winning historian Robert Rosenstone, they become much more. The fragments of memory so beautifully preserved in The Man Who Swam into History add unforgettable, human characters to the now familiar story of the Jewish diaspora in the twentieth century.

This combination memoir/short story collection recounts the Rosenstone family's passage from Romania to America. Robert Rosenstone tells the story not as a single, linear narrative, but through "tales, sequences, windows, moments, and fragments resurrected from the lives of three generations in my two parental families, set in five countries on two continents over the period of almost a century." This more literary and personal approach allows Rosenstone's relatives to emerge as distinct personalities, voices who quarrel and gossip, share their dreams and fears, and maintain the ties of a loving, if eccentric, family. Among the genre of "coming to America" tales, The Man Who Swam into History is a work of unique vision, one that both records and reconstructs the past even as it continuously—and humorously—questions the truth of its own assertions.

ROBERT A. ROSENSTONE is Professor of History at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. His previous books include Romantic Revolutionary: A Biography of John Reed; Mirror in the Shrine: American Encounters in Meiji Japan; Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History; and King of Odessa, a novel based ...
Title:The Man Who Swam into History: The (Mostly) True Story of My Jewish FamilyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:215 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.5 inPublished:September 1, 2005Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292709501

ISBN - 13:9780292709508


Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Prologue: Romania, Rumania, Roumania
  • One. The Man Who Swam
  • Two. Far from Hasenpoth
  • Three. Lazarus West
  • Four. Wild Hannah
  • Five. The Afterthought
  • Six. Transylvania Sank
  • Seven. Lower California, Here We Come
  • Eight. Hannah's Lament
  • Nine. Mixed-up Bobby
  • Ten. Izzy the Red
  • Eleven. Café Odessa
  • Epilogue: Sunday in Montreal

Editorial Reviews

"One of our most imaginative living historians takes us into the midst of his own past and makes us part of his family, even as he becomes part of our own. This book stands as a triumph of new scholarship and narrative." - Alan Cheuse, writer and book commentator for National Public Radio