Archive for November, 2002

Nov 06 2002

The Fly Swatter

Published by Brian under biography, reviews

review by Brian Charles Clark

The Fly Swatter: How My Grandfather Made His Way in the World
by Nicholas Dawidoff
Publisher: Pantheon, 2002

FlyswatterHarvard economist Alexander Gerschenkron is a household name-if, that is, you happen to be an economic historian. Or, as is the case with the author of The Fly Swatter, a member of the Gerschenkron household. Nicholas Dawidoff is Gerschenkron’s grandson, and he’s written a fine, if impressionistic, biography of his famous grandfather.

Gerschenkron was born in Odessa, Russia in 1904 and grew up to be, in his grandson’s words, “typically Russian… in a nation of show-offs.” Russians are strong as bears, which “led to an epidemic of Russian hernias,” strong talkers and strong intellects. All his life Gerschenkron was reckless, inclined to leaping off, if not tall buildings, then, for instance, high walls, yelling (in Russian, of course), “Two deaths cannot happen to one person and one death cannot be avoided.” Continue Reading »

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