• The Yiddish Policemen's Union

  • A Novel
  • By: Michael Chabon
  • Narrated by: Peter Riegert
  • Length: 12 hrs and 37 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (1,473 ratings)

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The Yiddish Policemen's Union  By  cover art

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

By: Michael Chabon
Narrated by: Peter Riegert
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Publisher's Summary

For 60 years Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the federal district of Sitka, a temporary safe haven created in the wake of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. The Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. But now the district is set to revert to Alaskan control, and their dream is coming to an end.

Homicide detective Meyer Landsman of the district police has enough problems without worrying about the upcoming Reversion. His life is a shambles, his marriage a wreck, his career a disaster. And in the cheap hotel where Landsman has washed up, someone has just committed a murder - right under his nose. When he begins to investigate the killing of his neighbor, a former chess prodigy, word comes down from on high that the case is to be dropped immediately, and Landsman finds himself contending with all the powerful forces of faith, obsession, evil, and salvation that are his heritage.

At once a gripping whodunit, a love story, and an exploration of the mysteries of exile and redemption, The Yiddish Policemen's Union is a novel only Michael Chabon could have written.

©2007 Michael Chabon (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

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What listeners say about The Yiddish Policemen's Union

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  • Overall
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    2 out of 5 stars

Didn't finish...

Honestly, I didn't finish this and I don't even care how it ends. That is something I absolutely never do. This was so incredibly overwritten, to the point of distraction. I couldn't stay focused on the narrative because I would get lost thinking about the ridiculous metaphors and similes, and I would completely lose the thread. Perhaps that's just the author's way, and fans of his appreciate it, but I couldn't stand it. The story in theory had nuance and intrigue, but I just could not get past the excessive descriptions. I stopped listening at the height of the climax, and a month later I still am not even curious about how it ended. It just wasn't for me.

I will say, the narrator did a great job and I would happily listen to him again.

136 people found this helpful

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Totally hooked

Michael Chabon tells a totally believable detective story about a Jewish community in Alaska. It is told with humour - under current. I especially loved the part where our hero is dashing across the freezing cold Alaskan countryside driving a snow (I'll say) scooter in his underwear. It reminds me of the movie Fargo . Totally different characters and story, but written with the Jewish view point and character. I would love to see this book made into a movie.
The narrator, Peter Riegert was fantastic. I would easily listen to another book narrated by him. It would also be great if they did this book as a movie that he would cast as one of the actors.
I also enjoyed listening to the author's interview at the end about writing this book. It was most interesting to listen to his process. I hope he writes a second book about these Jews in Alaska. I am from Northwestern Ontario, so I got the cold and the animals and the moose dishes. Great Book!!!!

89 people found this helpful

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Great story and voice but what's with the music?

I love the story and the narrator was perfect. The only thing that struck me as odd the whole time I was listening was the addition of music introducing certain chapters. The music felt out of place for style and was allowed to play under the narration for the first sentence or two of each chapter which was really really strange. Other than that strange stylistic choice, it was great.

50 people found this helpful

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Great narration, alternative history meets noir

What does Peter Riegert bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His gruff delivery is perfect for the hard-boiled, ever suffering detective. Classic.

Any additional comments?

A really engaging combination of alternative history and hard-boiled classic noir. In Chabon's imaginings, the Jewish diaspora is offered refuge in Sitka, Alaska, but that refuge is limited in space and in duration. Their 50 year dispensation is coming to an end and the Sitka District is soon to revert to the American government. With two months left until Reversion, we see Sitka through the eyes of Dectective Meyer Landsman. Landsman is, in the great tradition of noir, worse for wear, a functioning alcoholic, and divorced. He chews scenery with the best of them, and the dialog comes hard and fast. Here, they mystery surrounds a murdered heroin addict who lives in the same crappy, run down hotel that Landsman inhabits. But the heroin addict is more than he seems and the trail to his killer uncovers deeper plots and machinations. Chabon mixes in more than a few metaphors that will tickle the fancy of hard-boiled buffs, and the convoluted nature of the eventual solution can be forgiven because the ride to get there (full of colorful characters, cutting insight into the historical plight of the Jews, and clever details about what a Jewish enclave in Alaska might look like) is so incredibly diverting.

36 people found this helpful

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The ending. And the beginning.

First off. I thought after 1.5 hours I was gonna have to abandon ship and try another book, but something happens around hour 2 that hooks you into finishing in record time. Great alt timeline/history fiction. I enjoyed the Jewish topics immensely.

The ending tied up some loose ends but definitely not all. I hope future novels will come out to do so.

Overall 4/5

29 people found this helpful

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I'd prefer reading this

I love listening to books, but I do other things while I listen. This book has such rich prose and so much information in each sentence that I found I was missing too much by listening. It helped to find a synopsis, but even then it was challenging to follow. I'm a visual learner, so think I would have done fine if I'd actually read it instead of listening. I liked it, and do plan to read it at some point. The narrator definitely evokes a classic detective story, almost to the point of parody. It reminded me a little of Garrison Keillor's Guy Noir.

24 people found this helpful

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Beyond Noir

I loved this book. Chabon's phrasing and descriptive written make me want to write again. While reading this book I found myself looking at the world around me and trying to describe it they way Chabon describes the world he creates in Sitka. I will be looking for more novels by Michael Chabon.

23 people found this helpful

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Alternate history: kosher Alaska

Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union is an alternate history tale based on a never executed plan to resettle European Jews in Alaska in the run up to WWII. While the story itself is a police murder investigation, a more sinister plot of global proportions is in the works that the police investigator stumbles into. At the same, a plausible historical scenario is outlined as a result of this initial event.

The story is set in about the year 2000 with a deadline approaching for the expiration of the special Federal district creating some degree of tension and ambivalence. Chabon also posits the intriguing scenario of the refugee resettlement reducing the extent of the Holocaust, but also allowing Germany to concentrate more on their war effort and defeating the Soviet Union extending the war. The state of Israel doesn't survive (presumably due to the Alaskan alternative siphoning off population). At its core, this is murder mystery that is well crafted in design.

The narration is excellent with a good rendition of accented conversations that are still quite articulate and understandable.

18 people found this helpful

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confusing in the audible format.

difficult to follow time and characters on th audible format. I need to either read or listen again.

13 people found this helpful

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Bliss!

This book is a joy to read...hearing Chabon's eloquent, juicy prose is, somehow, even better!

13 people found this helpful