Letters to Auntie Fori

Before Martin Gilbert trekked across the Indian Subcontinent as a young man, an Indian friend of his from Oxford University, Ashok, told Martin to look up his mother if he found himself in Delhi.  Martin turned up on her doorstep dreadfully sick with some kind of stomach bug.  Ashok’s mother welcomed him like another son and nursed him back to health.  She turned out to be a warm, energetic woman married to a cousin of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India. They stayed in touch across several decades and many travels as her husband, known to Martin as Uncle Bijju, served as Governor of several Indian regions and chair of a UN committee.

Martin made a point of visiting Auntie Fori in India when she was 90 years old.  At one point in that visit, she asked if he knew of a history of the Jewish people she could read.  Why?  It turned out that she had met Uncle Biiju in their University days in England and thus became Indian by marriage and a passionate advocate of India;  but she was born Hungarian and Jewish. This book is the answer to Auntie Fori’s question.  Martin Gilbert is the author of numerous books on Jewish themes, and his mastery of the subject shows in his simple, approachable and assured treatment of an enormous topic.  Recommended!

Letters to Auntie Fori: The 5000-year History of the Jewish People and their Faith, by Martin Gilbert.  Schocken Books 2002.

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