Recovering Lost Relatives From Holocaust Oblivion

William Grimes reviews Daniel Mendelsohn’s new book in the New York Times:

20mend190Mr. Mendelsohn, who would grow up to become a classics scholar and literary critic, made it his life’s mission to reach into his family history and fill in the blank pages. “The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million” is the record of his extraordinary efforts to complete the stories that his grandfather told, and to reimagine the lost world of a generation disappearing before his eyes.

Mr. Mendelsohn sets out to do many things in this hugely ambitious book. First he tries to uncover the facts surrounding the deaths of six Jews trapped in a Polish town under Nazi occupation. But facts are not mere facts in his hands. They are the animating details that transform names — abstractions — into recognizable human beings.

More here.