Laqueur writes about his experiences as a volunteer at the Home for Jewish Parents. The elderly he meets there have lived fantastically broad lives, many having fled from eastern Europe in front of the German armies of World Wars I and II. Laqueur explains how different their impressions of world events are from his.

He notes the variety of responses the residents have to their own aging process and that of others. Those who are still mobile and mentally alert avoid those who are not. Some residents cling to life and self-respect, others abandon it. Over all, Laqueur is reassured by his visits. If these people have made it this far through such a crazy century, certainly he, too, can go on.


Laqueur’s tone is carefully balanced between respect and condescension. While he admires the elderly he meets, he also treats them as a spectacle for his amusement and the amusement of his readers.

Primary Source

Hiding in Plain Sight: Essays in Criticism and Autobiography


Mercury House

Place Published

San Francisco




Wendy Lesser