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The House of Twenty Thousand Books

EVT 487
Nov 15
7:30 pm
Cubberley Auditorium, School of Education
Status: No Registration Required
The House of Twenty Thousand Books is Sasha Abramsky’s memoir of his remarkable grandparents, their political and cultural milieu, and the house, at 5 Hillway, in North London, in which his grandfather, Chimen Abramsky, collected twenty thousand books. The son of one of the 20th century’s most influential rabbis, Chimen Abramsky was a Communist and then an anti-Communist, a book dealer, a historian, a manuscripts specialist for Sotheby’s, and much else besides. His two related areas of expertise were socialist history and Jewish history, and in both fields he collected world-class libraries. At 5 Hillway could be found books with Karl Marx’s handwritten notes, original William Morris woodcuts, Bomberg Bibles, first-edition Spinozas and Descartes, rare Yiddish newspapers, and much else.

Miriam Abramsky, Sasha’s grandmother, loved to entertain, and the Abramskys kept an open house for well over half a century. Through those doors would come some of the world’s foremost scholars, including Isaiah Berlin, Eric Hobsbawm, and Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg. All would be welcomed into what became one of London’s most fascinating and chaotic of salons. In this program, Sasha Abramsky will discuss the wondrous world of Hillway and the vanished intellectual, cultural, and political milieu out of which it emerged and within which it flourished.

Sasha Abramsky, Journalist; Author

Sasha Abramsky is a widely published freelance journalist and the author of seven books. His 2013 book, The American Way of Poverty, was selected by The New York Times as a “Notable Book of the Year.” The House of Twenty Thousand Books has received favorable reviews in leading newspapers and journals of the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, Germany, Austria, India, and elsewhere. Abramsky is an adjunct lecturer in the University Writing Program at UC Davis.
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