About the Memoir

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The Philadelphia Inquirer selected A World Erased for its list of best books. They wrote:

“Noah Lederman . . . offers a compelling [third]-generation perspective on the Holocaust, the survivors, and their families. He craves the details about death camps and ghettos that gave his grandparents nightmares. Part travelogue into the Europe of former concentration camps and his grandparents’ native Poland, part quest for the ugly truths he was shielded from as a child, Lederman’s narrative opens with the death of his grandfather, and the urgent need to learn, delicately, from his grandmother what he can before her stories die with her.”

Booklist calls A World Erased “a vital contribution to Holocaust collections.”

“This gripping book traces the evolution of a young man’s quest to uncover the stories of his grandparents’ harrowing past—a riveting journey through repressed memory, unspeakable trauma, and the landmarks of European genocide that lead the author to a fresh understanding of his family’s wartime past and his own identity. A determined historian, dogged sleuth, and gifted storyteller, Lederman flecks his memoir with black humor and refreshing candor, illuminating how the horrors of the Holocaust are transmitted through the generations.” (Andrew Jacobs, columnist at the New York Times, and director of Four Seasons Lodge)

“Lederman’s dogged persistence in getting his grandparents to recount their memories of the Holocaust pays off brilliantly. In A World Erased, he rescues their stories—and the stories of so many who survived, and so many who didn’t—and turns their experiences during the Holocaust into an enduring monument for his own generation and those to follow.” (Wayne Hoffman, Author of Sweet Like Sugar and An Older Man)

“A World Erased is a book of dark tales that is suffused with tenderness on every page. As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, Lederman’s journey of remembrance makes for urgent reading.” (Sam Apple, author of Schlepping through the Alps)

“Noah Lederman’s superbly written memoir has the emotional impact of a great novel but resonates with the truth of his own experience as the grandson of Holocaust survivors. It’s the story of a young man coming to terms with familial memory as he travels the world and finds his own place in it. This is a moving and important book.” (Phyllis T. Smith, Author of I Am Livia)

“Have you ever read a memoir that you couldn’t put down? They are rare, but I’ve found one. . . . Noah Lederman is an excellent writer, and not only shares family memories, but his journey to understand the lives of his grandparents—what they survived during the Holocaust—and how that affected the rest of their lives. It is powerful, moving, and I have never read a memoir that held my attention so much that I couldn’t sleep; turning out the light at 6am when the sun was rising, as I turned the last page, I felt bereft at finishing, awe at Lederman’s words and story, and love for his family. . . . Highly recommended.” (Jessie Voigts, Wandering Educators)

“Lederman makes us both laugh and cry as we read and this may very well be the Holocaust book of the year.” (Amos Lassen, Reviews by Amos Lassen)

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This poignant memoir by the grandson of Holocaust survivors transports readers from Noah Lederman’s grandparents’ kitchen table in Brooklyn to World War II Poland. In the 1950s, Noah’s grandparents raised their children on Holocaust stories. Because tales of rebellion and death camps gave his father and aunt constant nightmares, in Noah’s adolescence, Grandma would only recount the PG-version. Noah, however, craved the uncensored truth, and always felt one right question away from their pasts. But when Poppy died at the end of the millennium, it seemed the Holocaust stories died with him. Without the love of her life by her side, Grandma could do little more than mourn in the years that followed.

After college, Noah, a travel writer, roamed the world for fifteen months with just one rule: avoid Poland. A few missteps in Europe, however, landed him in his grandparents’ country. When he returned home, he cautiously told Grandma about his time in Warsaw, fearing that the past would bring up memories too painful for her to relive. But instead, remembering the Holocaust unexpectedly rejuvenated her, ending five years of mourning her husband. Together, they explored the memories—of Auschwitz and a half dozen other camps, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the displaced persons camps—that his grandmother had buried for decades. And the woman he had playfully mocked as a child became his hero.

I was left with the stories—the ones that had been hidden, the ones that offered catharsis, the ones that resurrected a family, the ones that survived even death. Their shared journey profoundly illuminates the transformative power of never forgetting.

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