The Gypsies:  by Jan  Yoors
256 pages, $32.95 list
eBook availability
The Gypsies
At the age of twelve, Jan Yoors ran away from his cultural Belgian family to join a wandering band, a kumpania, of Gypsies. For ten years, he lived as one of them, traveled with them from country to country, shared both their pleasures and their hardships—and came to know them as no one, no outsider, ever has. Here, in this firsthand and highly personal account of an extraordinary people, Yoors tells the real story of the Gypsies’ fascinating customs and their never-ending struggle to survive as free nomads in a hostile world. He vividly describes the texture of their daily life: the Gypsies as lovers, spouses, parents, healers, and mourners; their loyalties and enmities; their moral and ethical beliefs and practices; their language and culture; and the history and traditions behind their fierce pride.

The exultant celebrations, the daring frontier crossings, the yearly horse fairs, the convoluted business deals in which Gypsy shrewdness combined with all the apparatus of modern technology are all brought to life in this memorable portrait of the most romanticized, yet most maligned and least-known people on earth. An insider’s story, The Gypsies lifts the veil of secrecy that for so long has enshrouded this race of strangers in our midst.
“In the early 1930s, when he was a 12-year-old boy in Belgium, Yoors ran away to join a traveling band of Roma—Gypsies—in horse-drawn wagons. He lived with them for eight years, all over Europe. Need I say more?” — Adam Hochschild, co-founder of Mother Jones, cited in The Week, “Adam Hochschild’s 6 favorite books”

“In a rare publishing event, The Gypsies became an instant classic upon its original publication. It stands as testimony to the fact that fine scholarship and lyrical writing are not antithetical.” — Bertha Quintana

“Fascinating. A lyrical tribute, a unique inside view.” — Newsweek

“An exciting firsthand impression of life in a Gypsy camp forever on the move. A most valuable and original contribution.” — New York Times Book Review

“Beautifully evokes a way of life in which freedom and independence still survive.” — Sir Herbert Read

“Unquestionably the only book ever written from the inside of this most mysterious and elusive group of people. Beautifully written. A treasure. I think you will find it difficult to stop reading this unique and personal love song for a way of life.” — Houston Post

“Absolutely delightful.” — Margaret Mead

“Unique. No stay-at-home can read the book without a stab of yearning. . . . Reading it is like gulping in fresh air and experiencing a vicarious release from the complications of ‘civilized’ living.” — Minneapolis Tribune

“Enchanting. There are many surprising revelations . . . but most amazing is the spell that is cast on the reader.” — Columbus Dispatch

“Exciting, fascinating . . . we not only understand but also actually envy the Romani soul, and feel as though we would gladly shed a few of our encumbrances to join them.” — Chicago’s American

“Of course any right thinking boy would dream about joining a Gypsy caravan, but Jan Yoors actually left his comfortable home and found a nomadic life as splendid as his dreams. And now he has enough of the poet in him to convey his timeless, routineless, endless fascination of wandering through a changing countryside, creeping through frontiers, part of a mysterious society.” — Christian Science Monitor