The rise of David Levinsky, a novel by Abraham Cahan (1917). PDF book

The rise of David Levinsky

The rise of David Levinsky



The book is told in the form of a fictional autobiography of David Levinsky, a Russian Jew who emigrates to America and rises from poverty to riches.

This wonderful novel written as a first-person narrative is the life story of a poor Russian boy who emigrates to America and becomes a multi-millionaire. The story is told in complete detail, with a lamenting, nostalgic feel. 

It is well written and arresting, but rambles too much at times, which although digressive, adds to the effect of genuine storytelling. Some of the thoughts the narrator offers about life after one gets all the success and fame one can dream of were really insightful.

The main character, David Levinsky, is born in 1865 in Antomir, a city of 80,000 in the Kovno district of the Russian Empire (present-day Lithuania). His father dies when he is three, leaving him and his mother to fend for themselves. He grows up in abject poverty, he and his mother sharing a single basement room with three other families.

Review by Jennifer S. Brown
This autobiographical novel charts the rise of David Levinksy, an immigrant to New York in the late 1880s. The novel is quite long, and it took a while to get through it, but it was well worth the read. The differences between David's life as a Talmud student in Russia and his life as an upcoming cloak maker in New York are striking. In the beginning, it's difficult to see how this scholarly, pious boy is to become this amoral American, but the progressing is clear and logical. Really interesting to see what life was like, especially as it's close to the time my own relatives immigrated

Author: Abraham Cahan
 Publication Date: 1917

Some quotes from the novel :

“Life is much shorter than I imagined it to be.”

“Your worst pessimist is, after all, an optimist with regard to himself.”

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