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The Promised Land

Mary Antin

Book Overview: 

Being a Jew in Russia at the end of the 19th century was not easy at all. Jews were persecuted because of their religion. So the Jews found comfort in their ancient traditions. When Mary Antin’s father decided that keeping to his traditions did not suit him anymore, he found no place in Russia. So he emigrated to America with his family. Life was not easy, though as a child, Mary describes life in Boston as almost perfect. A smart and dignified girl, Mary takes the good things in anything and writes her autobiography with a smile.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .house at all times, and especially so during fairs, and at the season of the military draft.

In the family wing there was also enough going on. There were four of us children, besides father and mother and grandmother, and the parasitic cousins. Fetchke was the eldest; I was the second; the third was my only brother, named Joseph, for my father's father; and the fourth was Deborah, named for my mother's mother.

I suppose I ought to explain my own name also, especially because I am going to emerge as the heroine by and by. Be it therefore known that I was named Maryashe, for a bygone aunt. I was never called by my full name, however. "Maryashe" was too dignified for me. I was always "Mashinke," or else "Mashke," by way of diminutive. A variety of nicknames, mostly suggested by my physical peculiarities, were bestowed on me from time to time by my fond or foolish relatives. My uncle Berl, for example, gave me the name of "Zukrochene Flum," which I am not . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Fascinating insight into the of life an immigrant from the pale of settlement in Russia to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. A poignant perspective of the Jewish-American experience for many at the time, providing perspective on both the meaning of being Jewish and being Americ

In the autobiography of Mary Antin, The Promised Land, she automatically describes her childhood memories of how she became aware of her situation and of all those living in Belarus. Initially, Antin gives the reader a broad scope of how she sees life in Polotzk and how she slowly begins to realize

"The Promised Land" by Mary Antin was published 1912, and it narrates the story of a Jewish family immigrating from Russia to the united States..

In fact it is the autobiography of Antin, she put it in this way: " I was born, I have lived, and I have been made over.."
A very touching and beautiful wri

This is a story of the immigration of a smart nervy Jewish girl from Belarus and her transformation into an American. She begins with several chapters of life in a ghetto in Russia and her beginnings into learning and questioning. Her father goes to America and after several years the family joins h


“I have never had a dull hour in my life…”—page 246

I like memoirs. I like stories, especially first-hand accounts, of the immigrant experience in America. I particularly like stories about the lives of bright and determined people.

Mary Antin’s memoir, ‘The Promi

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