Tightrope: Six Centuries of a Jewish Dynasty by Michael Karpin
The 750-year epic tale of the extraordinary Backenroth family, this is at the same time an engaging, scrupulously researched narrative history of Jewish life since the Middle Ages. Throughout this time span, the Backenroths could be found at some of the most important events in Jewish history: the migration of their community from western to eastern Europe, the creation of the Hasidic movement, the birth of Zionism, and the loss of so many of their family during the Holocaust. As they struggle to survive, the Backenroths marry, find their fortune in oil, and spawn families with last names that are still widely known.
This sweeping family saga is shaped by real people — talented and creative women and men swept by the dramatic tides of the history into distant regions and complex situations, where they were forced to display resourcefulness and courage in order to survive. Time and time again they slid from prosperity and opulence to profound poverty and distress, and time after time they managed to surmount crises by virtue of their personal abilities, their tenacious belief in their values, and family solidarity.