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Friday, July 19, 2013

This and That:Random Thoughts and Recollections by Bel Kaufmann

This is an atmospheric book of essays by the author of Up the Down Staircase, a novel about an idealistic young teacher that made headlines in the 1950s.  Here Kaufman writes about her exotic Russian childhood, the Russian Revolution, motherhood and the importance of education. Although she came from a family with some money, life was difficult for many.  Some of these people ate bread made from the shells of peas, because there was no flour.

She also includes essays about her wonderful grandfather, Shalom Aleichem, who wrote the stories on which Fiddler on the Roof is based. The essay that I found the most moving was about how delighted Kaufman was to become a mother, and the difference between the mothers of her day and many mothers today.

She laments the changes in morals and manners through the generations, and she has well-considered advice about how to bring civility back.

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