The Wisdom of Uncle Kasimir

Kasimir Czerniak, Author, Gabi Czerniak, Editor, William Czerniak-Jones, Editor . Bloomsbury $14.95 (261p) ISBN 978-1-59691-151-2

Born in 1918 in Poland, Kasimir Czerniak was a WWII soldier and spy who was penniless in 1945. Arriving in the U.K., he studied chemical engineering, worked as a salesman and invested in his own inventions. How this charming eccentric became a millionaire by 1950 remains a mystery, and equally mysterious was his disappearance at age 81, when his relatives Gabi Czerniak and William Czerniak-Jones received Kasimir's trunk of papers with no return address, traveled to Switzerland and found his villa deserted. Collected here are letters William, Gabi and their cousins wrote to their great uncle when they were children, seeking advice for their problems; the clever Kasimir had responded with inventive solutions based on military strategies, helping William outwit a bully and engineering Gabi's escape from a boarding school she hated. Since many guided missives launched by Kasimir were saved by Czerniak family members, he springs to life in this book. Amid letters to and from Kasimir are unpublished manuscripts, lists, poems, fanciful story fragments and pages punctuated with puns and humorous asides. With a worldview askew, yet perceptive and practical, Kasimir strides forth, entertaining and surprising the reader with his militaristic and moralistic anecdotes and tales. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/25/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
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