When the Nazis invaded Poland, they took over Leon Jolson's prosperous sewing-machine business, tattooed No. 32164 on his left arm and threw him into a concentration camp. The end of the war found Jolson still alive, but the Russians were in Poland, and Jolson found them no better than the Nazis. He escaped to the U.S. zone in Germany, and in 1947 went to New York. He had $6 in his pocket and spoke no English. But he knew all about sewing machines.

Working 16 hours a day in a small rented shop, he made a modest living repairing and selling...

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