The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha Abramsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sasha Abramsky gives us a detailed look at the life of his grandfather Chimen Abramsky, a Jewish atheist and scholar, who amassed over twenty thousand books on subjects entailing communism, socialism, and Judaic studies. Chimen primarily lived in England after leaving his home country of Russia as a young man. As a rebellious son of a well-known Jewish Rabbi, Chimen covertly departed from his faith and joined the Communist Party for many years. He worked in his in-law's bookshop in England and began to collect rare, important works from communist and socialist leaders and scholars including Karl Marx. Chimen was most comfortable at his home with like-minded friends and colleagues talking and debating political and religious ideals and theories. Later in life, he was unable to continue supporting the ways and means of the Communist Party and changed his focus to Judaic studies.
I found Chimen to be a very interesting subject to read about. While claiming to be an atheist and following the tenets of socialism, Chimen never really broke away from his Jewish heritage. Very likely that is due out of respect for his father Rabbi Yehezkel Abramsky. Chimen was very complex and was obviously a very learned and respected man. His collection of books was astounding and became the heart and soul of his home. Although a very interesting look at Chimen, I was not so interested in all of the details around the communist and socialist rhetoric.
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