Format Hardback and ebook
Published 31 October 2019
Length 484 pages
ISBN 9781912600007 (ebook)
Lorraine de Meaux, translated by Steven Rendall
In 1857 the Gunzburgs arrived in Paris from Russia with their large family, a retinue of business staff and extensive domestic help: personal assistants, secretaries, tutors, wet-nurses and nannies, coachmen, ladies' companions, valets and maids, and even a kosher cook.
For the Gunzburgs were practising Jews who observed every religious law whilst also launching themselves into Parisian high society. Napoleon III was on a mission to modernise France and the Gunzburgs were quick to avail themselves of opportunities that were opening up – particularly in banking. The family fortunes prospered through hard work, foresight and marriage. Soon the family was playing a leading role in the Jewish communities of both Russia and France, alongside their contemporaries and relatives: the Ephrussis, the Rothschilds, the Brodskys, the Camondos and the Sassoons.
The family lived through the tumultuous events of the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 and, when personal tragedy struck, they returned their base back to Russia. There they worked tirelessly to develop their business interests and to improve the living conditions of Jews, but setbacks abounded: the advent of Alexander III, pogroms and the revolutions of 1905 and later of 1917. The outbreak of the First and Second World Wars saw some of the family once again on the road as refugees, while others fought in the Allied armies and in the Resistance in France.
In this lively and far-ranging family biography, Lorraine de Meaux discovers lost archives, letters, documents and paintings in her quest to piece together the little-known story of the Gunzburgs.
About the author
Lorraine de Meux has a Ph.D in contemporary History from the Pantheon-Sorbonne University, Paris. She specialises in the history of Russia.
About the translator
Steven Rendall has translated eighty-five books from French and German. He has won four awards, including the American Historical Association’s James Henry Breasted Prize.