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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I Pity the Poor Immigrant by Zachary Lazar

So, yes, this book is titled like the Bob Dylan song:
I pity the poor immigrant
ho wishes he would’ve stayed home
Who uses all his power to do evil
But in the end is always left so alone
That man whom with his fingers cheats
And who lies with ev’ry breath
Who passionately hates his life
And likewise, fears his death

This is a book about outsiders and immigrants and crime bosses and escaping justice.  Journalist Hannah Groff travels to Israel to investigate the murder of poet David Bellen. Over the course of her research, she learns about Meyer Lansky, the gangster who emi­grated from Poland to New York and helped to establish the American mob—and build Las Vegas. Facing a murder charge, Lansky sought asylum in Israel, but the government turned him down.  Hannah draws connections between Lansky, his mistress Gila Konig—a Holocaust survivor—and Hannah’s own family, leading her to uncover some unsavory aspects of the Groff legacy. The intricate story becomes a meditation on violence and power and their relationship to Jewish identity specifically and personal identity in general.  Short and meaningful.  Check it out.

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