My Two Polish Grandfathers

And Other Essays on the Imaginative Life

About The Book

AWARD-WINNING AND CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED WRITER WITOLD RYBCZYNSKI DELIVERS A REVELATORY COLLECTION OF LINKED AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ESSAYS -- PART MEMOIR, PART FAMILY HISTORY -- ABOUT THE UPHEAVALS OF EUROPEAN LIVES DURING WORLD WAR II, HIS OWN INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT, AND THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGES OF ART, MUSIC, AND ARCHITECTURE.

Witold Rybczynski's parents and grandparents were a thriving, cultured family in prewar Warsaw, then a sophisticated European city. With the onset of war, their world fell apart. His mother and father made separate escapes, reuniting against many odds on a ship bound for Scotland from Marseilles.

That people can lose everything, overcome stunning odds to survive, remake themselves in a foreign country, learn a new language and culture, and then do it again is extraordinary. My Two Polish Grandfathers is a testament to the boundaryless world of art, architecture, and music -- which can be transported from one country to another -- and clear affirmation of Rybczynski's own path toward becoming an architect and one of today's most original thinkers.

Beautifully written, thoughtful, and extraordinarily subtle, this riveting work offers a rare glimpse into the development of Rybczynski's educated outsider's eye and is a tribute to a European generation that has helped to define postwar American culture.

About The Author

Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

Witold Rybczynski has written about architecture and urbanism for The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Home and the award-winning A Clearing in the Distance, as well as The Biography of a Building, The Mysteries of the Mall, and Now I Sit Me Down. The recipient of the National Building Museum’s 2007 Vincent Scully Prize, he lives with his wife in Philadelphia, where he is emeritus professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (February 3, 2009)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416561286

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Raves and Reviews

"My Two Polish Grandfathers is an absolutely delightful book, which is no surprise to me, being one of Witold's greatest admirers." -- David M. Childs, architect of One World Trade Center and the Time Warner Center

"A very enlightening book by one of our very best architectural critics. The story of Witold Rybczynski's Polish forebears during World War Two, and how they ended up in Canada, is fascinating. His account of his architectural education, and how his distinctive perspective on architecture developed, helps explain how he became something of a maverick in this age of modernism." -- Nathan Glazer, professor emeritus, Harvard University, and author of From a Cause to a Style

"Disarming, charming, sweet-natured, large-hearted--all these adjectives describe this little book, and I imagine they describe the architect-author as well." -- Carolyn See, Washington Post

"Wide-ranging, compulsively readable... A satisfying and valuable addition to a still growing literature." -- Helen Epstein, Phildelphia Inqurier

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