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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2011
I read it myself, loved it, lived in it and couldn't put it down - so sent it as a birthday present to my 'daughter-out-law in Toronto. Haven't heard yet whether she is as enthralled by it as I was - and still am. But she darn well should be!

I bought my first copy in a a London (UK) book shop offering a 2-for-1. Made my first choice and scanned the rows for my 'bargain'. I spotted The Hare with Amber Eyes and remembered I'd read something about it, couldn't remember the review and short of time, picked it up.

What happenstance! This eloquently written, absorbing and unique family history with its complex relationships combines an eye-opening account of the horrors and dreadful depredations of the Jewish people by the Nazis. But it takes no shortcuts on the structuring of a Jewish family rising from not-quite rags to unimaginable wealth - and the means by which this is achieved.

This is a book written with considerable charm, insight and more than anything else, absolute truth.

I gave my first copy to a friend and now have another - read it and reread it again and again. A masterpiece like no other.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
How often does the history of a European dynasty read like a "I couldn't put it down" novel? Exciting, tragic and wise, this chronology takes us along on a voyage of discovery as we learn through the fate of a collection of miniature Japanese antiquities, how fine works of art can be feverishly sought after, then given away; cherished or dismissed; lost for years then re-discovered, understood and valued then trivialized as toys. Running parallel with the fate of these tiny sculptures ("The hare with amber eyes" is one of them) is the fate of the family who possessed them, and still does.This is a finely written and detailed chronology, superbly evocative of time and place, with beautifully and lovingly drawn portraits of family members (both black and white sheep) that come alive as the author digs ever deeper into his family's rise and fall. This book has so profoundly enriched my understanding of 19th and 20th European cultural history, I consider it among the finest books of any genre I have ever read. The illustrated edition is more expensive, but worth it for the photos, and also because for me at least, this book itself is an object I will cherish and share for many years to come.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2013
A book that raises questions about our relationship to objects, to ownership of art and the meanings they have in our lives and the stories they tell of who we were in the world . And a book that, underneath, writes the history of a Jewish family during the terrible years of the two great wars.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2011
This book has it all:history, scenery, art, emotions, subtlety, great writing, and all this from a man who is a well known potter but not a writer.
I highly recommand it; you are in for a treat!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2013
The inanimate comes alive by tracing the lineage of a family through the owners of a particular netsuke collection. The past lives through each hand that has touched these tiny wood and ivory carvings.
It's an intimate journey through time, art, fashion, political and social climates.
You will be transported.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2013
I did not care for the long, tedious descriptions of the personalities who were suffering from over indulgent personalities and life styles. I got so discouraged reading about those entanglements that I decided I did not care about ivory nutsukes, or their quests for them or their houses, clothing, social interactions,reasons for the obsession about these or their life styles.
Finally in desparation, I gave up on the tediousness of the endless descriptions and gave the book to A second hand store.
Sorry Mr. DeWaal---I just didn't like working that hard to enjoy ceramics and nutsukes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2015
The beginning of the book was dense with detail but over time as the characters were developed it became more and more a compelling read.
Imagine if you can a political society that embraces minimization, then extermination, all while artistic accomplishments are being hoarded.
The descriptions of living in the different cities/societies is quite interesting and well developed. However, man's inhumanity to others is overriding and disturbing.
After a challenging beginning, a great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2014
I am impressed. I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though at the beginning I was wondering if I would even get through it. De Waal is an expert writer with the ability to describe scenes vividly. I found the descriptions of Nazi Germany and the treatment of the Jews just terrifying. I learned so much about this treatment and what happened to the possessions confiscated from the Jews. As we move to more acceptance in our daily lives, many more people need to read this account and learn from it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2013
Edmund de Waal traces his family history, the Ephrussi family, using the device of tiny Japanese sculptures called netsuke. Through them he traces the meteoric rise (comparable with the Rothschild family) and fall (during the Nazi era). It is a bit of a tiresome read in parts if you are not as enamoured of artistic sensitivities and language, but the underlying story of a real family is fascinating and well worth the read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2015
Love the book and the story line but I wish the author had not been so eager to impress us with his vocabulary. My friend who recommended the book reads with dictionary in hand. I was running to the computer to see the artists' works. The book really takes one to another time and place - lets you feel what is was like to be Jewish in Europe just before the war. And what those people accomplished in their lifetimes.
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