Theodore Hamerow, a prominent historian, was born in Warsaw in 1920 and spent his childhood in Poland and Germany. His parents were members of the best-known Yiddish theater ensemble, the Vilna Company. They were part of an important movement in the Jewish community of Eastern Europe which sought, during the half century before World War II, to create a secular Jewish culture, the vehicle of which would be the Yiddish language.
Combining the skills of an experienced historian with the talents of a natural writer, the author not only brings this exciting part of Jewish culture to life but also deals with ethnic relations and ethnic tensions in the region and addresses the broad political and cultural issues of a society on the verge of destruction. Thus a vivid image emerges that captures the feel and atmosphere of a world that has vanished forever.