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From a gifted young writer, the story of his quest to reclaim his family’s apartment building in Poland—and of the astonishing entanglement with Nazi treasure hunters that follows  Menachem Kaiser’s brilliantly told story, woven from improbable events and profound revelations, is set in motion when the author takes up his Holocaust-survivor grandfather’s former battle to re From a gifted young writer, the story of his quest to reclaim his family’s apartment building in Poland—and of the astonishing entanglement with Nazi treasure hunters that follows  Menachem Kaiser’s brilliantly told story, woven from improbable events and profound revelations, is set in motion when the author takes up his Holocaust-survivor grandfather’s former battle to reclaim the family’s apartment building in Sosnowiec, Poland. Soon, he is on a circuitous path to encounters with the long-time residents of the building, and with a Polish lawyer known as “The Killer.”  A surprise discovery—that his grandfather’s cousin not only survived the war, but wrote a secret memoir while a slave laborer in a vast, secret Nazi tunnel complex—leads to Kaiser being adopted as a virtual celebrity by a band of Silesian treasure seekers who revere the memoir as the indispensable guidebook to Nazi plunder. Propelled by rich original research, Kaiser immerses readers in profound questions that reach far beyond his personal quest. What does it mean to seize your own legacy? Can reclaimed property repair rifts among the living? Plunder is both a deeply immersive adventure story and an irreverent, daring interrogation of inheritance—material, spiritual, familial, and emotional. 


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From a gifted young writer, the story of his quest to reclaim his family’s apartment building in Poland—and of the astonishing entanglement with Nazi treasure hunters that follows  Menachem Kaiser’s brilliantly told story, woven from improbable events and profound revelations, is set in motion when the author takes up his Holocaust-survivor grandfather’s former battle to re From a gifted young writer, the story of his quest to reclaim his family’s apartment building in Poland—and of the astonishing entanglement with Nazi treasure hunters that follows  Menachem Kaiser’s brilliantly told story, woven from improbable events and profound revelations, is set in motion when the author takes up his Holocaust-survivor grandfather’s former battle to reclaim the family’s apartment building in Sosnowiec, Poland. Soon, he is on a circuitous path to encounters with the long-time residents of the building, and with a Polish lawyer known as “The Killer.”  A surprise discovery—that his grandfather’s cousin not only survived the war, but wrote a secret memoir while a slave laborer in a vast, secret Nazi tunnel complex—leads to Kaiser being adopted as a virtual celebrity by a band of Silesian treasure seekers who revere the memoir as the indispensable guidebook to Nazi plunder. Propelled by rich original research, Kaiser immerses readers in profound questions that reach far beyond his personal quest. What does it mean to seize your own legacy? Can reclaimed property repair rifts among the living? Plunder is both a deeply immersive adventure story and an irreverent, daring interrogation of inheritance—material, spiritual, familial, and emotional. 

30 review for Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mary G.

    Menachem Kaiser never knew his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor who tried unsuccessfully to regain his lost property: an apartment building in Poland. Years later, Kaiser takes up the quest anew. But along the way, he realizes that his reclamation effort is about much more than just an apartment building - it's about memory, suffering, history, and the legacy of the family members who came before. I've never read another book like this one - Kaiser writes eloquently about his dealings with the P Menachem Kaiser never knew his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor who tried unsuccessfully to regain his lost property: an apartment building in Poland. Years later, Kaiser takes up the quest anew. But along the way, he realizes that his reclamation effort is about much more than just an apartment building - it's about memory, suffering, history, and the legacy of the family members who came before. I've never read another book like this one - Kaiser writes eloquently about his dealings with the Polish government, as well as a merry band of Silesian treasure hunters. I could feel his sorrow and frustration as he tried to assemble a picture of the past and reclaim the property that was rightfully his. My one problem with the book is that it got a little repetitive in the last section - there's only so many times you can discuss Polish court happenings and keep a reader's interest. But this is a chronicle of a true historical and legal odyssey, and I am grateful to have learned about Kaiser's family history. 3.5 stars rounded up. Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing an ARC on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    “Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure”, by Menachem Kaiser, is a bit of a mishmash of family history and Polish history. Kaiser, who is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, was raised in Canada and currently lives in New York City. The number of Holocaust survivors is diminishing as time takes its toll. For many years we had the survivors telling their own stories; then their children took over, and now we’re reading the third generation. Many of these authors never met their “Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure”, by Menachem Kaiser, is a bit of a mishmash of family history and Polish history. Kaiser, who is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, was raised in Canada and currently lives in New York City. The number of Holocaust survivors is diminishing as time takes its toll. For many years we had the survivors telling their own stories; then their children took over, and now we’re reading the third generation. Many of these authors never met their grandparents who suffered, instead using photographs, written materials, and official documents, they put together a narrative of their ancestors’ lives and experiences. Menachem Kaiser becomes interested in his grandfather’s story and was determined to “find out more”. This involved research in both mainly Poland and Israel. There’s also - supposedly - a building owned by the Kajer family in the town of Sosnowiec, Poland. Kaiser visits and picks up a crew of lawyers and historians to help him, first, to find the building, and second, to declare the owners dead, so Menachem and his family could take over the building. But, where IS the building, supposedly built in the interwar period. But the building at the site was definitely built in the Soviet era. More problems turn up and Menachem gets involved with a group of Polish treasure seekers, mainly looking in the Silesia area of Poland. It was then that Menachem Kaiser’s book lost me. The treasure seekers are looking for the often mythical “Nazi Gold” and other wartime souvenirs. They’re wandering around caves and other, secret hiding places. Did the Nazis make a flying saucer in the last days of the war? Maybe... There’s also a family member - a survivor named Abraham Kajer - who was not Menachem’s grandfather, but a close cousin. He was famous in the treasure seekers community, and Menachem stature within the group was enhanced by this connection. I never knew where Kaiser was going in his memoir. A good book editor should have been let lose on the manuscript before publication. It could have been a better book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hal Issen

    The author, a decedent of Holocaust victims and survivors, seeks to reclaim their family home in Poland. Or is it their family home? That premise sets a motif for the book in which nothing is what it appears to be. In order to reclaim the property, his relatives are assumed to be alive and he has to prove that are dead, even though they would have died of natural causes by now anyway even if they had survived the concentration camps. He is befriended by troops of Polish Nazi Treasure hunters, wh The author, a decedent of Holocaust victims and survivors, seeks to reclaim their family home in Poland. Or is it their family home? That premise sets a motif for the book in which nothing is what it appears to be. In order to reclaim the property, his relatives are assumed to be alive and he has to prove that are dead, even though they would have died of natural causes by now anyway even if they had survived the concentration camps. He is befriended by troops of Polish Nazi Treasure hunters, who mistake him for the grandson of their favorite author, an enslaved Nazi laborer, who documented Nazi construction and thus enables their search. The life mission of the Treasure Hunters is to acquire and display Nazi-themed memorabilia, but they profess to loath the Nazis. The author does not speak Polish so all this activity presented through the filter of translation, further contributing to his confusion and mistrust of information, is this really what is happening, and what is going on here? The dualistic theme of Reality versus Illusion is mirrored throughout by other dualisms; Pole versus Jew, American Jew versus Polish Jew, Dead versus Alive, Alive versus Not Alive, and so many more, all occasions for the author to consider their significance in great depths through the book in humorous, self-deprecating , thoughtful, and insightful meditations that make up the bulk of the book. These soliloquies are funny and thought-provoking, and are the reason that I would read any book on any subject by this author in the future. The major gift that the author imparted is to consider our views of nostalgia for family history. Like many other people, I am very curious about the lives of my family that are just out of reach of the memory of anyone still alive; the Civil War, the Great Depression, the World Wars in Europe. This book helps me understand that while I want to know as much as I can about these experiences, my ancestors probably did everything they could to try to forget them. Why would you want to know about that? they might say, it was awful, what more do you need to know? This is the final duality of a book that I picked up due to romantic notions of my own Polish Jewish family; do not romanticize other people’s lives, they are likely to be as prosaic as your own. Do not seek meaning from other people’s lives, try to understand your own instead.

  4. 4 out of 5

    L. Bordetsky-Williams

    Menachem Kaiser has written a beautiful tale of loss and remembrance. Everyone should read it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sami

    Menachem Kaiser’s irreverent and poignant (isn’t that a pair of adjectives?) memoir begins with the death of his grandfather, a man he never knew but whose name he shares and whose Holocaust story sent the latter Menachem on a meandering journey through the Polish landscape and legal system in an attempt to understand more and to reclaim a property that belonged to his family nearly a century earlier. Kaiser travels to Sosnowiec, a small town in the region of Silesia, which borders the Czech Repu Menachem Kaiser’s irreverent and poignant (isn’t that a pair of adjectives?) memoir begins with the death of his grandfather, a man he never knew but whose name he shares and whose Holocaust story sent the latter Menachem on a meandering journey through the Polish landscape and legal system in an attempt to understand more and to reclaim a property that belonged to his family nearly a century earlier. Kaiser travels to Sosnowiec, a small town in the region of Silesia, which borders the Czech Republic and is home to countless ethnic populations and a rich history of demographic confusion and love of mystery. In this strange community, Kaiser becomes acquainted with a group of “treasure hunters” whose fascination with Nazi-era memorabilia and artifacts is both admirable and entirely disconcerting, and he discovers a familial tie to these explorers that turns him into something of niche celebrity. As he follows the paper trail left by his grandfather and other relatives, Kaiser makes mistakes and missteps that are frustrating, embarrassing, and exhausting, but he infuses his storytelling with a sense of reflection and humor that emphasized the random significance of family and place. I was impressed by Kaiser’s ability to tease out details of a single moment and mine them for a cohesive story while acknowledging how much was unknown and unknowable. However, I thought the book needed some cleaning up around its transitions. More than once, I had to stop to figure out what we were talking about and how we got there, particularly in the sections about conspiracy theories and drinking in the woods. Certainly, these stories and characters added life and energy and depth to Kaiser’s efforts to navigate property law and legal jargon—in Polish—but it felt disappointingly disjointed and, at times, overly simplified. As Kaiser himself acknowledges towards the end of the book, Holocaust memoirs, biographies, and histories are plentiful, which can have the effect of diluting the undeniable power of each individual story. Both parts of this statement are true, but they hardly apply to this book; Kaiser writes around explicit tragedy and devastation to write a Holocaust story unlike any I’ve read before. I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and author Menacham Kaiser. Opinions stated in this review are honest and my own. Release Date: 16 March 2021

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cherise Wolas

    A fresh, meaningful, and fascinating addition to the trove of Holocaust books, also at times unexpectedly comedic, that begins with the author seeking to know more about his grandfather, who survived the Holocaust though none of his family members did. The grandfather remains unknowable, except that for a couple of decades he, and then the author's father, attempted to reclaim a building in a small town in Poland. Is it where the grandfather grew up? The author visits, meets those living in the A fresh, meaningful, and fascinating addition to the trove of Holocaust books, also at times unexpectedly comedic, that begins with the author seeking to know more about his grandfather, who survived the Holocaust though none of his family members did. The grandfather remains unknowable, except that for a couple of decades he, and then the author's father, attempted to reclaim a building in a small town in Poland. Is it where the grandfather grew up? The author visits, meets those living in the building, finds out its history, except is it the right building? He hires The Killer, a lawyer in a pink track suit, to begin the process of reclaiming the building, but first that means declaring his relatives dead in the Holocaust dead, not an easy proposition. There are Polish treasure hunters and how do they view these vanished concentration camps, replete with death and historical meaning, or simply grounds where they seek lost treasures? There's the familial connection the author uncovers, to a man the Polish treasure hunters revere, a Holocaust survivor named Abraham who wrote a small memoir about his time in the Polish camps while he was a slave laborer in an enormous, secret Nazi tunnel complex known as Project Riese, about which almost nothing is known historically, other than from Abraham's book. History, family, the unknowability of all that was lost in the Holocaust, all the lives and property stolen by the Nazis (and Poles too), the frequent memory-trips Jews take to find the pasts of their dead relatives, the Polish court system, and more.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    I hope this memoir wins a Jewish book award or two. It’s smartly written. I don’t mean this at all as an insult, but it lands squarely in a mainstay of 19th century Yiddish literature, the shlemiel narrative. Except in this case, the shlemiel is someone with a way with words, a keen sense of observation and whose grandfather survived the Holocaust. If he were alive today, Mendele would enjoy this memoir. IB Singer wouldn’t enjoy it, but only because he was by nature hyper-competitive and would v I hope this memoir wins a Jewish book award or two. It’s smartly written. I don’t mean this at all as an insult, but it lands squarely in a mainstay of 19th century Yiddish literature, the shlemiel narrative. Except in this case, the shlemiel is someone with a way with words, a keen sense of observation and whose grandfather survived the Holocaust. If he were alive today, Mendele would enjoy this memoir. IB Singer wouldn’t enjoy it, but only because he was by nature hyper-competitive and would view this memoir as a threat. The narrator tries to do the near impossible - recover his grandfather’s Polish real estate - hires incompetents, never learns Polish (for me, this is both hilarious and dumbfounding), and makes a ridiculous number of missteps. Yet he somehow leaves with his dignity in tact mostly because he is mistaken for the grandson of a legendary Holocaust survivor. This is both a thoughtful and maybe unintentionally comic memoir (I did laugh out loud at the missteps).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ula Tardigrade

    This book was a big surprise for me, but not a disappointment. Basing on the publisher's description, I was expecting a fun adventure story. You can find traces of it, but the book is mostly a blend of very personal memoir and essays on the nature of human memory, heritage, Shoah, conspiracy theories, and many more topics. It is exceptionally well written and insightful, although I have to admit that sometimes the author should listen to himself and "stop being cranky" about some stuff - he can This book was a big surprise for me, but not a disappointment. Basing on the publisher's description, I was expecting a fun adventure story. You can find traces of it, but the book is mostly a blend of very personal memoir and essays on the nature of human memory, heritage, Shoah, conspiracy theories, and many more topics. It is exceptionally well written and insightful, although I have to admit that sometimes the author should listen to himself and "stop being cranky" about some stuff - he can be extremely touchy. I also had sometimes felt uneasy about his attitude towards some of the people he met. Nonetheless, it was a very interesting read. Thanks to the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Menachem Kaiser has not known any of his familial predecessors beyond his father, but has been brought up on the stories of many of his relatives, including his grandfather, during the Holocaust. He decides to investigate and possibly claim any property or valuables he may discover. He is, however surprised by the hoops he needs to jump through as well as reactions of people who now live near the homes of his ancestors. VERY interesting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    Menachem Kaiser is a young writer and storyteller of stunning talent, originality, and wisdom, and his debut book is gloriously impossible to categorise — by turns hilarious and profound, digressive and suspenseful, intimate and sweeping, it stands as an enviable accomplishment. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Author of A sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and Hopeful Reparations and treasure hunting: I can’t think of two better metaphors for memoir writing, and I can’t think of a better recent m Menachem Kaiser is a young writer and storyteller of stunning talent, originality, and wisdom, and his debut book is gloriously impossible to categorise — by turns hilarious and profound, digressive and suspenseful, intimate and sweeping, it stands as an enviable accomplishment. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Author of A sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and Hopeful Reparations and treasure hunting: I can’t think of two better metaphors for memoir writing, and I can’t think of a better recent memoir than Menachem Kaiser’s Plunder, which has heart, humour, and intelligence to spare. Joshua Cohen, Author of Attention: Dispatches From a Land of Distraction A saga of family history and inheritance that reads like a murder mystery, Plunder begins with Menachem Kaiser’s journey to reclaim a Polish apartment building but immediately becomes something far richer and stranger. Probing with unusual insight and humour into questions of memory, loss, and what we owe to the past, this impossible-to-put-down book — part travelogue, part memoir, part meditation on all that history hides from us — marks the debut of a major writer. Ruth Franklin, Author of NBCC Award-Winning Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life Exceptionally well written, this candid and suspenseful work recasts the injunction that one generation of survivors demands of all descendants, never to forget. Plunder is a magnificent and stunning literary debut. André Aciman, Author of Find Me and Call Me By Your Name In a literate, constantly surprising quest, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor returns to Poland to lay claim to the things of the past … An exemplary contribution to the recent literature on the fraught history of the Shoah. STARRED REVIEW Kirkus Reviews A twisting and reverberant and consistently enthralling story. It’s a weird story that gets weirder … Kaiser is a reflective man on the page, with a lively mind. He dwells on the moral seesaw he finds himself on … Kaiser considers the nature of conspiracy theories, in a way that’s highly relevant to our era. (His thinking about reparations of various kinds is as complex and timely.) … Plunder has many stories to tell … many moods and registers. It acquires moral gravity. It pays tender and respectful attention to forgotten lives. It is also alert to melancholic forms of comedy. Tonally I was reminded at times of Jonathan Safran Foer’s excellent first novel, Everything Is Illuminated … Traveling on a private road, closer to the ground, and at a slower pace, [Kaiser’s] walk turns up details that are fresh, unexpected and significant. His perceptions are sharp. We partake of his curiosity. Dwight Garner, The New York Times This is weird, complicated territory — by which I mean it’s fantastic … Plunder thrives as a morally complicated travelogue … it is original, and it finishes strong. Kaiser chases down the facts (fingers-crossed) of Abraham Kajzer’s story, and they devastated me. It’s not spoiling things to say that Kajzer survived the absolute worst humanity had to offer only to abandon life’s greatest reward. From the distance of all these years his choice is incomprehensible. It’s our duty to try to understand anyway. The New York Times Book Review A master storyteller embarks on a journey to learn about his grandfather and to reclaim an apartment building that was stolen during the Holocaust. The odyssey is fascinating and thought-provoking. Christian Science Monitor, ‘The 10 Best Books of March’ With smart, elegant prose, [Kaiser] manages to construct an engrossing chronicle of his foray into an elusive past. His narrative is wonderfully digressive, laced with coincidences and ambiguities, and filled with just enough revelations to keep readers contentedly turning pages. The Forward

  11. 5 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    Menachem Kaiser is a young writer and storyteller of stunning talent, originality, and wisdom, and his debut book is gloriously impossible to categorise — by turns hilarious and profound, digressive and suspenseful, intimate and sweeping, it stands as an enviable accomplishment. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Author of A sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and Hopeful Reparations and treasure hunting: I can’t think of two better metaphors for memoir writing, and I can’t think of a better recent m Menachem Kaiser is a young writer and storyteller of stunning talent, originality, and wisdom, and his debut book is gloriously impossible to categorise — by turns hilarious and profound, digressive and suspenseful, intimate and sweeping, it stands as an enviable accomplishment. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Author of A sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and Hopeful Reparations and treasure hunting: I can’t think of two better metaphors for memoir writing, and I can’t think of a better recent memoir than Menachem Kaiser’s Plunder, which has heart, humour, and intelligence to spare. Joshua Cohen, Author of Attention: Dispatches From a Land of Distraction A saga of family history and inheritance that reads like a murder mystery, Plunder begins with Menachem Kaiser’s journey to reclaim a Polish apartment building but immediately becomes something far richer and stranger. Probing with unusual insight and humour into questions of memory, loss, and what we owe to the past, this impossible-to-put-down book — part travelogue, part memoir, part meditation on all that history hides from us — marks the debut of a major writer. Ruth Franklin, Author of NBCC Award-Winning Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life Exceptionally well written, this candid and suspenseful work recasts the injunction that one generation of survivors demands of all descendants, never to forget. Plunder is a magnificent and stunning literary debut. André Aciman, Author of Find Me and Call Me By Your Name In a literate, constantly surprising quest, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor returns to Poland to lay claim to the things of the past … An exemplary contribution to the recent literature on the fraught history of the Shoah. STARRED REVIEW Kirkus Reviews A twisting and reverberant and consistently enthralling story. It’s a weird story that gets weirder … Kaiser is a reflective man on the page, with a lively mind. He dwells on the moral seesaw he finds himself on … Kaiser considers the nature of conspiracy theories, in a way that’s highly relevant to our era. (His thinking about reparations of various kinds is as complex and timely.) … Plunder has many stories to tell … many moods and registers. It acquires moral gravity. It pays tender and respectful attention to forgotten lives. It is also alert to melancholic forms of comedy. Tonally I was reminded at times of Jonathan Safran Foer’s excellent first novel, Everything Is Illuminated … Traveling on a private road, closer to the ground, and at a slower pace, [Kaiser’s] walk turns up details that are fresh, unexpected and significant. His perceptions are sharp. We partake of his curiosity. Dwight Garner, The New York Times This is weird, complicated territory — by which I mean it’s fantastic … Plunder thrives as a morally complicated travelogue … it is original, and it finishes strong. Kaiser chases down the facts (fingers-crossed) of Abraham Kajzer’s story, and they devastated me. It’s not spoiling things to say that Kajzer survived the absolute worst humanity had to offer only to abandon life’s greatest reward. From the distance of all these years his choice is incomprehensible. It’s our duty to try to understand anyway. The New York Times Book Review A master storyteller embarks on a journey to learn about his grandfather and to reclaim an apartment building that was stolen during the Holocaust. The odyssey is fascinating and thought-provoking. Christian Science Monitor, ‘The 10 Best Books of March’ With smart, elegant prose, [Kaiser] manages to construct an engrossing chronicle of his foray into an elusive past. His narrative is wonderfully digressive, laced with coincidences and ambiguities, and filled with just enough revelations to keep readers contentedly turning pages. The Forward

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    Beautifully written, fascinating, unexpected.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Suey Nordberg

    I decided to try a non-fiction book for a change, but I kind of cheated, as this one was marketed as "a non-fiction book that reads like fiction," and that was true! The author, Menachem Kaiser, details his personal search to find his grandfather's lost apartment building, located in Poland, that was taken over during World War II. Menachem knows very little about his grandfather, and nearly all other members of his extended family perished in concentration camps. Menacham learns about secret Na I decided to try a non-fiction book for a change, but I kind of cheated, as this one was marketed as "a non-fiction book that reads like fiction," and that was true! The author, Menachem Kaiser, details his personal search to find his grandfather's lost apartment building, located in Poland, that was taken over during World War II. Menachem knows very little about his grandfather, and nearly all other members of his extended family perished in concentration camps. Menacham learns about secret Nazi tunnels that were built during the war to store plundered treasure stolen from Jewish families, and completely by surprise learns that the authoritative narrative on the building of these tunnels was written by a man with his same last name -- who turns out to be his grandfather's cousin, Abraham. Abraham's memoir was written from scraps of bags that he buried in the latrines of the concentration camps he lived in, then later retrieved. It is not unlike other memoirs of concentration camp survivors, except that this book gives details about the tunnels which draw treasure seekers from around the world. Through this unexpected connection, Menachem finds some living family members he did not know about (Abraham's descendants). Menachem hires a lawyer he nicknames "The Killer" to help him re-gain his family's Polish property, but technical issues hinder this process, and as of the writing of the novel, having his clearly deceased relatives (who died in the camps) declared dead has still not been accomplished, an important step to claiming the building. Menachem wrestles with his motives and rights, his family's history and losses, and contradictory worldviews and attitudes toward the Holocaust. His journey of discovery is one I couldn't put down!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Sokoloff

    Menachen Kaiser never met his paternal grandfather, who passed away before Menachem was born. Yet, every year, on the "yarzheit", or anniversary, of his grandfather's death, Menachem and his father would visit the cemetery to say Kaddish / prayers in his grandfather's honour. Menachem, (and for that matter, Menachem's father), did not know much about his grandfather's life in Poland. He had rarely spoke about it. As an adult, on a trip to Poland, Menachem reminds himself of (the one thing he rem Menachen Kaiser never met his paternal grandfather, who passed away before Menachem was born. Yet, every year, on the "yarzheit", or anniversary, of his grandfather's death, Menachem and his father would visit the cemetery to say Kaddish / prayers in his grandfather's honour. Menachem, (and for that matter, Menachem's father), did not know much about his grandfather's life in Poland. He had rarely spoke about it. As an adult, on a trip to Poland, Menachem reminds himself of (the one thing he remembers hearing about his grandfather), that is, his grandfather's failed attempts to reclaim property that their family owned before the war. With the address of the property in hand, Menachem goes to Sosnowiec to acquaint himself with the city (and "home") of his paternal grandfather. #Plunder is Menachem Kaiser's detailed account of his attempt to settle his grandfather's claim. for this property. Ultimately, the need to find out whether Menachem finally succeeds in receiving "reparations" for what his grandfather claimed rightfully belonged to the Kaiser family before the war, is what kept me reading this book right to the end. I will not ruin the book by saying what happens. But it was an extremely interesting read, and it brings to the forefront the complications (and ethical dilemmas) of what belongs to you, after you leave, after a war, and, so many years later.... Besides Menachem's personal search, on his quest he is introduced to a population of Nazi treasure hunters, that most people know little about. In Silesia, Hitler had (mostly Jewish) labourers dig out miles and miles of underground tunnels, where it is believed a train full of gold, as well as many other treasures are hidden. The search for these treasures is real, and highly regulated by the Polish government. The crazy part of this is that these treasure seekers do not connect their desire to acquire Nazi loot, with the evil at the root of the Nazis. This is a very interesting read, Thank you #netgalley for this e-ARC of #plunder, in return for my review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carmen212

    Amazing book, so unlike other Holocaust memoirs or searches for the dim past of departed ones. The book is set in stages: at the beginning we have the extended family, cousins coming out of the woodwork. Houses close by and houses open to all, at any hour, in any state of hunger. Next Menachem, the great nephew of Abraham. Abraham a survivor of many camps and an escape artist. So there is a house that 4 members of the pre-war family went in on. So Menachem the Toronto nephew goes to Poland to su Amazing book, so unlike other Holocaust memoirs or searches for the dim past of departed ones. The book is set in stages: at the beginning we have the extended family, cousins coming out of the woodwork. Houses close by and houses open to all, at any hour, in any state of hunger. Next Menachem, the great nephew of Abraham. Abraham a survivor of many camps and an escape artist. So there is a house that 4 members of the pre-war family went in on. So Menachem the Toronto nephew goes to Poland to suss out the house with many misgivings, and has many many adventures, some of them weird. Everyone keeps saying as if this explains everything and anything: well, this is Silesia. Houses mis-numbered, Polish courts refusing to say that these people (who would be 140 today) were dead. The great mysteries of Silesia -- the tunnels in the mountains where the Nazis were believed to have stored the Gold Train. A lot about explorers and fortune hunters--it's a cottage industry. And then big chunks of the book considering consequences, motives, facing not very pretty truths about oneself, and this part was particularly fascinating to me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Louise Gray

    I have always wondered what it must have been like for people to return from the camps and find their homes were taken. I have also wondered how the people in those homes felt - perhaps not all of them knew those homes were stolen. This is an I trusting book which offers insights into the rights and wrongs of inheritance and how damage can be perpetuated over generations. Beautifully written, the author tells a story with skill and sensitivity.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Menachem Kaiser was raised in a close-knit Orthodox Jewish American-Canadian family. His grandfather, a holocaust survivor from Poland died before he was born. Kaiser is named for him. When, in the course of a routine visit to Poland, he has occasion to visit Sosnowiec, his grandfather’s hometown, he secures an address from his father of his grandfather’s apartment building. Kaiser reasons this will let him imagine his ancestors at a concrete location, their home. He learns his grandfather spent Menachem Kaiser was raised in a close-knit Orthodox Jewish American-Canadian family. His grandfather, a holocaust survivor from Poland died before he was born. Kaiser is named for him. When, in the course of a routine visit to Poland, he has occasion to visit Sosnowiec, his grandfather’s hometown, he secures an address from his father of his grandfather’s apartment building. Kaiser reasons this will let him imagine his ancestors at a concrete location, their home. He learns his grandfather spent many post-war years trying to establish his family’s ownership of this building, with no success. This book is ostensibly about Kaiser’s decision to pursue his family’s claim to the property. The litigation to establish this is commenced by the “Killer” an attorney in her eighties. It proceeds in a desultory and seemingly absurd manner over a number of years. In the meantime, Kaiser becomes interested in learning about “Project Riese,” a massive Nazi effort to tunnel into and hollow out sections of the Owl Mountains for an uncertain purpose. It was built through the forced labor of Jews and others who were interned in nearby camps at various locations. The seven underground complexes were in various stages of construction when they were blown up by the Nazis near the end of the war. The ruins attract explorers, some seeking a reputed treasure load in a “golden train,” some proof of the Nazi’s successes with time travel, and some just seeking to find what is there, weapons, buttons, gold teeth... And in the course of touring the area with a well-regarded explorer, Kaiser overhears his last name mentioned by nearby Polish speakers who do not know his name. He learns that a man named Abraham Kaiser kept a diary, on paper from cement bags, at each of the eight forced labor camps where he was interned after an initial stay at Auschwitz. It was published in Poland in 1962. Abraham’s diary gives the explorers as much information as is available about where some of the internment camps were located, thus guiding them to the areas where the work was conducted. Kaiser pursues Abraham’s story, again seeking to make this man real to him. It seems he ultimately makes himself more real. This lyrical memoir was a pleasure to read. It is touched with humor, as there are so many missteps that arise when one is seeking concrete information about a family and community that was erased. The explorers and other people who contribute to his quest, both living and dead are wonderfully drawn: Their generosity, their faults, their points of view, heroism, conspiracy theories, and an unexpected love make for a wonderful story. Kaiser reminds us that, if we are willing to process our experiences, our deepest understanding of the past can yield and reshape itself and that this journey is as important as the facts we uncover.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    A memoir of an extraordinary journey in present-day Poland and into the past. Menachem Kaiser is a 30-something Jewish Canadian whose grandfather, the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust, attempted to reclaim family property in the city of Sosnowiec but was unsuccessful. The grandfather died before Menachem was born, but throughout his childhood, his father, aunt, and uncle kept alive the family's ties to their Polish origin through constant discussion. Menachem decides to pursue t A memoir of an extraordinary journey in present-day Poland and into the past. Menachem Kaiser is a 30-something Jewish Canadian whose grandfather, the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust, attempted to reclaim family property in the city of Sosnowiec but was unsuccessful. The grandfather died before Menachem was born, but throughout his childhood, his father, aunt, and uncle kept alive the family's ties to their Polish origin through constant discussion. Menachem decides to pursue the matter and travels to Poland, does what he can to assemble the required paperwork, and hires an attorney, an elderly woman known as "The Killer" who files claims with the government to go forward in the process. The result is a tale more surreal than any writing by Kafka or painting by Dalí. The courts and the reparations process lead Menachem through an endless maze of bureaucracy, forms, and documents, and along the way he visits the building bearing the address of the one the family once owned, and meets many of its residents, some of whom have been living there more than 60 years. Two particular things come to light in this account of endless ambiguity: the building Menachem visits turns out not to be the one his family owned, despite its having the same house number as the documentation and the address the family has always discussed; and, through one of the residents, he hears of an intriguing cult-like, loosely organized small army of treasure hunters, who are concentrating on the Nazis' Riese Tunnels, a vast underground complex in the Owl Mountains in Silesia, adjacent to Sosnowiec, built during the war by Jewish slave laborers who experienced horrendous working conditions and brutality. Rumors had spread that there were vast stores of stolen gold and other valuables hidden there, but Menachem's connection is the discovery that a cousin of his grandfather's generation, Abraham Kajzer, had written a memoir of his imprisonment that has become the stuff of legend among the fortune hunters. Menachem's book first reads like a picaresque tale of an attempt at the righting of wrongs, but then very gray areas of morality intrude in his thoughts. While it's certainly true that the Kaiser family owned a building in Sosnowiec before the war and that they have never been compensated for what was taken from them, there are others to consider: those that live in the building who are innocent of any wrongdoing and would fear displacement from their homes. The war ended more or less 75 years ago and the world has moved on: how do we balance the wrongs of the past with the needs of those in the present? I couldn't help but think of African-Americans who seek their rightful place in our modern society after their ancestors were brought here as slaves 400 years ago, or of the factions in Israel and Palestine who are at odds over territorial rights, home ownership and ancient claims of a homeland stolen over and over through the millenniums of history. Where does it all end, and what is fair? Does anyone really have the answers to these questions? I must mention that I was drawn to this book by the author's name and the subject matter. My family includes many named Kaiser/Keyser/Keiserman, etc., and while we didn't originate in Poland, but rather in Moldova/Ukraine, and my great-grandparents fled many decades before the Holocaust, the family suffered the effects of pogroms and other brutalities, and some distant cousins who survived World War II have recently come to light. Nothing is truly clear, and certainly nothing is simple.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Kennedy

    The writing in this book is top notch. I settled into it, happy that I'd have something substantial and enjoyable to read for a few days. And Menachem Kaiser's story of searching in Silesia for a building that his grandfather owned before World War II is compelling. He takes a photographer friend and a translator with him, and in their hunt, they find people willing to speak to him of what they know of the old days. But along the line, he becomes involved with Polish "treasure hunters," an eccent The writing in this book is top notch. I settled into it, happy that I'd have something substantial and enjoyable to read for a few days. And Menachem Kaiser's story of searching in Silesia for a building that his grandfather owned before World War II is compelling. He takes a photographer friend and a translator with him, and in their hunt, they find people willing to speak to him of what they know of the old days. But along the line, he becomes involved with Polish "treasure hunters," an eccentric but skilled troupe of bounty hunters looking for Nazi treasure, and the book's narrative splits. The chapters about the bounty hunters have absolutely nothing to do with the author's hunt for his family's property, until he learns of a man having his last name who might be a relative, and who is revered by the treasure hunters. I think the author might have intended the treasure hunt chapters to be a stand-in for the grandfather he knows nothing about, and can know nothing about. The potential relative is more easily known, as he wrote a book, and the author tells his story completely. I was relieved when the possible relative's Holocaust story took over from the treasure hunting chapters. That was worthwhile reading about, as all Holocaust stories are. I skipped the treasure hunting chapters so I could read the apartment building hunt as a through line. The legal system in Poland and the author's extensive efforts to meet the requirements to reclaim the building make for interesting reading. He never mocks the Polish system, even when it seems ludicrous, so he doesn't come across as an ugly American. He considers the moral and ethical questions of what he's doing -- potentially displacing persons who live in the building for financial gain -- and answers them fully, excusing nothing about his motives. No matter how interesting you find the author's attempts to reclaim lost property, if you read the Epilogue, you'll have far more interest in the story he tells there. It's a cliffhanger! I wish that story could be fully told. Because I wasn't interested in half of this book, I would have given it three stars, but the writing makes it a four-star book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Nelson

    Disclaimer ( I listened to this book on Audible vs. reading it on Kindle or as a book in hand) I had great hopes for this book. The reviews and description in the NYTimes were intriguing and positive. Overall I found the book to be a bit choppy and packed with what felt like extraneous information and highlights about treasure hunters, mythological treasures, and the authors philosophy on loss and reclamation. I found those side trips distracting and they felt like filler and empty opportunities Disclaimer ( I listened to this book on Audible vs. reading it on Kindle or as a book in hand) I had great hopes for this book. The reviews and description in the NYTimes were intriguing and positive. Overall I found the book to be a bit choppy and packed with what felt like extraneous information and highlights about treasure hunters, mythological treasures, and the authors philosophy on loss and reclamation. I found those side trips distracting and they felt like filler and empty opportunities for the author to share data / info from other research projects he had pursued. A little goes a long way! The book was at its best when it stayed with the main characters - Abraham, the author's family and his interactions with the people in Poland who help and or hindered his search for his grandfather's building and Abraham's story including Gertrude. The author spent a lot of time philosophizing and fantasizing on what different characters - his grandfather and Abraham in particular might have been thinking and agonizing over. This felt like filler. The story of Abraham's book and the genesis of it via the hidden notes on concrete wrapping was interesting but the author went on ad nauseum about the different publications of the diary and book. Where was the editor???? Finally the author is whiny a lot of the time. I don't recommend anyone listen to this book on audible - the whininess is amplified. And to hear "Manhattan Nominasi " over and over during the vodka drinking scenes in the forest just about made me stop listening altogether. Again where was the editor? I can see why the author included the Epilogue. It was interesting and again the author was at his best when he was dealing with specific characters and discrete story lines. The author left the reader hanging by not closing the loop on his family when he didn't report what his father's reaction was to his trips to Poland and Israel and his overall findings. I'm wondering if referring to a book as a Memoir provides more license to the author on what he includes such as his stream of consciousness thoughts and musings. I don't know that I've read a self professed Memoir before. Something I will look at next time I read something labeled memoir

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sam Gronner

    I was drawn to Menachem Kaiser's book "Plunder" by its title, but pretty soon sensed I was hooked into a "Bait and Switch" scheme that led me (as surely as the author experienced) into a maze of complex twists and turns in his earnest search to find and possibly reclaim real estate his ancestors had owned in pre-Holocaust Poland. While we follow the author's dogged pursuit of clues to what may be the childhood home of his now deceased grandfather, the search meanders through the region of the fo I was drawn to Menachem Kaiser's book "Plunder" by its title, but pretty soon sensed I was hooked into a "Bait and Switch" scheme that led me (as surely as the author experienced) into a maze of complex twists and turns in his earnest search to find and possibly reclaim real estate his ancestors had owned in pre-Holocaust Poland. While we follow the author's dogged pursuit of clues to what may be the childhood home of his now deceased grandfather, the search meanders through the region of the former Silesia. He diverts from the original plan and goes off on a mission to uncover a mystery on the basis of the harrowing Holocaust survival story by a similarly-surnamed author who, it turns out, was his great-uncle. Abraham Kajzer had escaped from a concentration camp and had documented his role as a slave laborer working on underground tunnels being built by the Nazis, ostensibly to hide the gold they had plundered from the Jews they had exterminated. Menachem is introduced to a cult of conspiracy aficionados who to this day are pursuing the supposed treasure. Menachem's odyssey is engaging throughout, but ultimately does not lead to the expected conclusion and closure. The claim for restitution remains unresolved, and the tangential search for hidden Nazi treasure is inconclusive. So what's the point of the tale? In the end, it is not tying up loose ends. Rather, it is the satisfaction of having made the journey. He discovers that more than the actual reclamation of the property, "the most morally honest version of this story...would be perpetual, irresolute, Sisyphean; my children and their children should inherit not the building, but the struggle to reclaim it, the struggle to understand what it is they're tying to reclaim."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Caren

    This intriguing memoir recorded Menachem Kaiser’s “circuitous” journey to reclaim his late grandfather’s apartment building in Sosnowiec, Poland. Possibly because the author had never known Abraham, the Holocaust survivor having died eight years before Menachem’s birth, the quest was as much a symbolic search to “know” the patriarch and to honour his life by vowing “never to forget”. He concluded, however, that “We do not continue their stories; we act upon them. We consecrate, and we plunder.” T This intriguing memoir recorded Menachem Kaiser’s “circuitous” journey to reclaim his late grandfather’s apartment building in Sosnowiec, Poland. Possibly because the author had never known Abraham, the Holocaust survivor having died eight years before Menachem’s birth, the quest was as much a symbolic search to “know” the patriarch and to honour his life by vowing “never to forget”. He concluded, however, that “We do not continue their stories; we act upon them. We consecrate, and we plunder.” Through his attempts to identify and then visit Abraham’s residence, Kaiser discovered the existence of his grandfather’s cousin, also an Abraham, whose published memoir was viewed as a “guidebook to Nazi plunder” by a group of fanatic treasure hunters. This discovery led Kaiser in a direction away from his grandfather’s life in the small Polish town and, astonishingly, to the centre of conspiracy theories that I found somewhat tedious to read through. I was much more interested in the family dynamics that Kaiser explored and in the responses to his presence by the Poles he contacted as a Jewish relative of a former resident. But, more than simply an account of a nonetheless fascinating journey, Kaiser pondered the very nature of memory, of heritage and legacy. He responded philosophically to issues of spiritual and emotional inheritance as well as to material concerns. These were the sections that I was most drawn to. “Family stories are poor preservers of history…they’re meant and relied on as preservation of soft information, of sentiment, narrative, identity, of who someone was and, subsequently, who you are.”

  23. 5 out of 5

    Snidely

    I'm sorry to say that I thought this was an awful book. The only reason I stuck through to the end was that the premise and the set up got me curious to find out the outcome. Many times along the way I felt I was coming to the end of my ability to tolerate it and continue but I did make it to the end. In hindsight, I should have stopped. At least half of the book was stuffing, digressions, off-topic ramblings that had nothing to do with the main story. The author is a master of self-justificatio I'm sorry to say that I thought this was an awful book. The only reason I stuck through to the end was that the premise and the set up got me curious to find out the outcome. Many times along the way I felt I was coming to the end of my ability to tolerate it and continue but I did make it to the end. In hindsight, I should have stopped. At least half of the book was stuffing, digressions, off-topic ramblings that had nothing to do with the main story. The author is a master of self-justification, offering rationales and alibis for his questionable attitudes and mistakes in judgement. A bit narcissistic too, perhaps. In hindsight, this book was a disappointment. His self-analytical essays and explanations may have been interesting for a self-absorbed person to write but they were not interesting to read. Again, I'm sorry. Some may like it, that's fine. For me, it might have been an interesting book to read had the story developed as the teasers suggested it might. But the story didn't develop that way and at the end I said out loud "What?". For my own detour, I'd like to say that I "read" the audio book version, performed by the author. That can often be a bonus. In this case, Mr. Kaiser's mispronunciation of a surprising number of English words was distracting.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    At one point during what the author calls his memory-quest, Menachem Kaiser is told by a Polish man during an informal interview that “one cannot replant old trees.” That phrase hit me hard as the most succinct and poignant way to talk about the central problem in Plunder. Kaiser is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. His grandfather never talked about those years much. All Kaiser and the rest of his family (all born after the war) knew was that their grandfather lost almost his entire family At one point during what the author calls his memory-quest, Menachem Kaiser is told by a Polish man during an informal interview that “one cannot replant old trees.” That phrase hit me hard as the most succinct and poignant way to talk about the central problem in Plunder. Kaiser is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. His grandfather never talked about those years much. All Kaiser and the rest of his family (all born after the war) knew was that their grandfather lost almost his entire family and that he had been trying for decades to recover an apartment building that had been lost or stolen during the war. This building, on Małachowskiego in Sosnowiec, provides the excuse for Kaiser to do what so many descendants of Holocaust survivors do: return to the alte heim (old country) to find out what traces their families and the war have left on the world... Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mystic Miraflores

    This was an interesting book for the most part, although the treasure-hunting aspect of the book made my eyes glaze over. This was not a topic I cared about. There actually was very little about the author's own alleged family property. More of the book was focused on Abraham, a relative the Toronto-based Kaisers didn't know about. On a personal level, my husband's family supposedly had a farm in Poland before they left in 1914 for America. The family supposedly came from an area on the Russian b This was an interesting book for the most part, although the treasure-hunting aspect of the book made my eyes glaze over. This was not a topic I cared about. There actually was very little about the author's own alleged family property. More of the book was focused on Abraham, a relative the Toronto-based Kaisers didn't know about. On a personal level, my husband's family supposedly had a farm in Poland before they left in 1914 for America. The family supposedly came from an area on the Russian border. My brother-in-law was interested to hear about it from my late father-in-law. His greedy eyes lit up but only for a moment before he realized all the work and money that would go into finding this supposedly family farm. Being a poor and lazy man, he never pursued it. Yes, if he had the money and energy, he also would be one of those Jewish Americans looking for Polish property to claim. I can relate to the author's descriptions of these tourists. I loved the ending, which made me laugh out loud. It was a real cliffhanger. The saga continues! Will the author write a sequel?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bryn

    Goodreads' strict rating system is failing me here. This is a 3.5 overall, but a 4.5 on the scale of pretty compulsive readability. It's a self-consciously reflective book--sometimes to the point that I felt like a bit more editing to take it more firmly out of feeling like the author's working notes, as opposed to the published book, would have helped. As is so often the case, part of my review is based on what I wished the book had been able to deliver--which is, of course, part of the author' Goodreads' strict rating system is failing me here. This is a 3.5 overall, but a 4.5 on the scale of pretty compulsive readability. It's a self-consciously reflective book--sometimes to the point that I felt like a bit more editing to take it more firmly out of feeling like the author's working notes, as opposed to the published book, would have helped. As is so often the case, part of my review is based on what I wished the book had been able to deliver--which is, of course, part of the author's point. The book is about a Canadian Jew who attempts to reclaim the building his grandfather lost during WWII; although his grandfather survived the concentration camps, he died of a heart attack before the author was born, so the author never knew the man. In so doing, the author interacts with the Polish court system, Nazi treasure hunters, and other descendants of Holocaust survivors. Overall, the book is a stirring reminder of our tether to the past, the recent horror--and as the author so richly captures, the banality of that horror--of the Holocaust, and the refraction of memory, individual and collective.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Scholars and historians study documents and photographs, visit meaningful sites and interview people connected to the events. Family members search for answers to questions they were too young to have asked when their parents or grandparents were still alive. No matter how much research is done, it will never be possible to discover what happened to everyone caught in the whirlwind of the Holocaust. Memories fade, documents get lost or found, and knowledge disappears as survivors, perpetrators a Scholars and historians study documents and photographs, visit meaningful sites and interview people connected to the events. Family members search for answers to questions they were too young to have asked when their parents or grandparents were still alive. No matter how much research is done, it will never be possible to discover what happened to everyone caught in the whirlwind of the Holocaust. Memories fade, documents get lost or found, and knowledge disappears as survivors, perpetrators and bystanders age and die. That doesn’t stop people from trying to understand what occurred as can be seen in two new books: “The Ravine: A Family, A Photograph, A Holocaust Massacre Revealed” by Wendy Lower (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and “Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure” by Menachem Kaiser (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). See the rest of my review at https://www.thereportergroup.org/past...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    After World War II many survivors emigrated to the United States and started new lives. They never talked about their history or the loss of family members. Menachem never knew his grandfather, who died before he was born and he could find out very little about him from his father because stories of the war weren't shared in their household. When Menachem is in Europe, he decides to go to Poland to find out where his grandfather grew up. His visit turns into a quest to get reparations for the ap After World War II many survivors emigrated to the United States and started new lives. They never talked about their history or the loss of family members. Menachem never knew his grandfather, who died before he was born and he could find out very little about him from his father because stories of the war weren't shared in their household. When Menachem is in Europe, he decides to go to Poland to find out where his grandfather grew up. His visit turns into a quest to get reparations for the apartment building that his grandfather had owned. Along the way, he learns more about his grandfather's life and even spends some time with Nazi treasure hunters. The trip that he took into one of the Nazi tunnels, was difficult to read especially by someone as claustrophobic as I am. His writing was very introspective and he didn't just talk about the adventure but also the ramifications of the Nazi regime and how they changed the lives of so many people.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cflack

    From the outset Plunder breaks the tropes of Jews going back to the old country to reconnect with the land of their ancestors and claim something for themselves – whether it is land, property, sentimental items or just memories. Kaiser set himself up differently – from his not knowing his grandfather at all and not being able to mourn someone he never knew to the way he deals with the schism in his father’s generation. There is a meta quality all the way through which shows Kaiser arguing with h From the outset Plunder breaks the tropes of Jews going back to the old country to reconnect with the land of their ancestors and claim something for themselves – whether it is land, property, sentimental items or just memories. Kaiser set himself up differently – from his not knowing his grandfather at all and not being able to mourn someone he never knew to the way he deals with the schism in his father’s generation. There is a meta quality all the way through which shows Kaiser arguing with himself if morally he is doing the right thing and why doesn’t he feel different about it to the humor he finds in things that others might perceive differently. The focus is not only on connecting and gaining what is “rightfully” his but his personal examination of the full suffering post WW2. Poignancy comes in unexpected places and discoveries and it is ultimately the connections Kaiser makes with new “family” that are the heart of this book. Well worth your time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charles Stephen

    Kaiser, Menachim. Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure. Houghton Mifflin, 2021. This book was interesting, and sometimes entertaining. The author was honest about its shortcomings, and the conflicts he had about whether he should write a work of fiction or nonfiction. Personally, I wondered how he would have decided if he had simply learned to speak Polish. He could not know in advance how many years it would take to for his claims to his grandfather’s property to move through t Kaiser, Menachim. Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure. Houghton Mifflin, 2021. This book was interesting, and sometimes entertaining. The author was honest about its shortcomings, and the conflicts he had about whether he should write a work of fiction or nonfiction. Personally, I wondered how he would have decided if he had simply learned to speak Polish. He could not know in advance how many years it would take to for his claims to his grandfather’s property to move through the Polish courts. I’m glad he did. The book is unique. This review is not an endorsement of amazon.com or any business owned by Jeff Bezos. Books for my reviews were checked out from a public library, purchased from a local brick-and-mortar book shop, or ordered from my favorite website for rare and out-of-print books.

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