Caviar and Ash­es: A War­saw Gen­er­a­tion’s Life and Dealth in Marx­ism, 1918 – 1968

Mar­ci Shore
  • Review
By – March 30, 2012
This book, the win­ner of the 2006 Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award for Euro­pean Stud­ies and a final­ist for the Koret Inter­na­tion­al Jew­ish Book Award in Jew­ish Thought, takes the read­er into the lives of the found­ing gen­er­a­tion of Pol­ish intel­lec­tu­al Com­mu­nists. Pre­sent­ing the lives of a group of Jew­ish writ­ers and poets, the author endeav­ors to immerse the read­er in the back­ground, ide­olo­gies, and polemics in order to under­stand Marx­ism as it was expe­ri­enced by the gen­er­a­tion of East Euro­pean Jews in the first part of the 20th cen­tu­ry. These Marx­ists were dis­put­ing the future well before Marx­ism meant the impo­si­tion of Sovi­et occu­pa­tion in Poland. Span­ning the years from the ear­ly 1920’s to the end of the 1960’s and using archival mate­ri­als from Poland and Rus­sia, as well as from Ukraine and Israel, Shore — an assis­tant pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty — delves into the fate of these intel­lec­tu­als. This is a sto­ry about mak­ing choic­es in his­to­ry, and how lives took dif­fer­ent twists and turns, some­times end­ing in impris­on­ment and death. Beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten and well researched, this is a schol­ar­ly work rec­om­mend­ed for all aca­d­e­m­ic libraries. Index and notes.
Sonia Sil­va obtained a MLIS from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mon­tre­al. She is a children’s librar­i­an at the Jew­ish Pub­lic Library in Mon­tre­al and the Liai­son Librar­i­an for Jew­ish Stud­ies at McGill University.

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