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A wonderful read; historical family memoir wrapped in modern European history (1850s to 1950s). Internationally acclaimed ceramicist Edmund De Waal takes a sabbatical from his art studio in London to trace his family’s roots from their position as the world’s greatest grain merchants operating from Odessa in 1860 to becoming among the world’s richest bankers with family members from London to Paris to Vienna running the financial operations and consorting within the highest social and artistic circles of those European capitals. But the Ephrussis family were Jews and the vast majority of their members perished in the 1940s along with their spectacular wealth. It is coldly shocking all over again to read evidence of the depth of Austrian, German and French anti-Semitism. De Waal book-ends his family memoir with his great-uncle Iggie who lived in Japan after the Second World War and collected <em>netsuke</em> small Japanese figurines. De Waal, a perfectionist, travels to these cities and countries and tracks down the smallest details of his family history. A worthy tribute to a fascinating era.

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