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SPRING 2007 RECOMMENDED JEWISH BOOKS
SPRING 2007 BOOK READINGS
Mar 19, 2007: Happy 74th Birthday to Philip Roth
Mar 27, 2007: Iris Bahr reads from DORK WHORE. B&N Chelsea, NYC
Mar 27, 2007: Ambassador Dennis Ross lectures. 92Y.org NYC
Apr 02, 2007: First seder for Passover begins tonight
Apr 13, 2007: Letty Pogrebin and her daughter at Ansche Chesed in NYC. Might even talk about her version of Newsweek's top 50 rabbi's, but with more the 5 women on the list
Apr 18 ,2007: New Writers on the Holocaust. With Daniel Mendelsohn, Shira Nayman and Bernice Eisenstein. Makor NYC
Apr 19 ,2007: Elie Wiesel on The Maiden of Ludmir. 92Y.org NYC
Apr 21-22: NextBook.ORG festival of ideas. Acting Jewish with David Mamet, Laura Silverman, Adam Gopnik, Kenneth Turan and Others. UCLA.
April 22, 2007: HaZamir High School Choir performs in NYC, Central Syangogue. 7:15pm
April 22, 2007: ?Did Herzl Really Say That? A film program at YIVO
April 23, 2007: Sari Nusseibeh in conversation at the 92nd St Y in NYC
April 23: For the benefit of Darfur and AJWS. Knitting Factory in NYC. Featuring broadway stars and Bobby Lopez (Co-author of Avenue Q)
Apr 23-25, 2007: NJDC WASH DC CONFERENCE. American Jews and the 2008 Election: Israel and Domestic Issues
Apr 24, 2007: www.AmericaEatsForIsrael.Org
Apr 24, 2007: Sephardic Folktales with Gerald Fierst and Peninnah Schram. 92nd St Y NYC 8:15PM
Apr 25, 2007: Nathan Englander and Jonathan Lethem and their new books. 92nd St Y, NYC 8PM
Apr 26, 2007: Elie Wiesel on memory and ethics. 92nd St Y NYC 8PM
Apr 28-29, 2007: LA TIMES Festival of Books, Los Angeles
Apr 29 ,2007: NEXTBOOK.ORG Festival. What is He Doing Here? Jesus in Jewish Culture. Featuring Leon Wieseltier, James Carroll, Jonathan Wilson, Robin Cembalest, Stephen Greenblatt, Robert Pinsky, Ruth Franklin, Ivan Marcus, Judith Shulevitz, Susannah Heschel, Rome's Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Degni, Osvaldo Colijov, Alan Segal and more. Center for Jewish History 12 Noon - 7PM NYC
Apr 30, 2007: Amy Dockser Marcus reads from JERUSALEM 1913 , Politics and Prose, Washington DC
May 01, 2007: Michael Chabon reads from "THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION," 92ndSt Y, NYC
May 02, 2007: Michael Chabon reads from "THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION," B&N Union Sq, NYC
May 03, 2007: Michael Chabon reads, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge 6:30 PM
May 03, 2007: Tova Reich reads from MY HOLOCASUT, Politics and Prose, Washington DC
May 06, 2007: Lag b'Omer. Parade in NYC. Idan Raichel at J&R NYC at 4PM
May 09, 2007: Michael Chabon reads at The Los Angeles Public Library
May 19, 2007: Robert Dallek reads from NIXON AND KISSINGER, Politics and Prose, Washington DC
May 21, 2007: Michael Chabon reads at The Chicago Public Library w/ Nextbook
May 21, 2007: SAMI RHR PRIZE FOR JEWISH LITERATURE. Jewish Book Council. Pierre Hotel.
May 23, 2007: Michael Chabon reads from THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION, Sixth & I Historic Synagogue,
600 I Street NW, DC
May 29, 2007: Michael Chabon reads at Title Wave Books, Anchorage, Alaska
May 30, 2007: Michael Chabon reads at Hearthside Books at the Nugget Mall Juneau, Alaska
May 14, 2007: Alan Morinis on EVERYDAY HOLINESS: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar. HUC JIR, NYC 7 PM
May 22, 2007: Tikkun Leil Shavuot.
May 27, 2007: Thane Rosenbaum with Daniel Goldhagen, John K. Roth and Michael Berebaum on "Holocaust Fatigue." 92Y.org NYC
Jun 01-03, 2007: Book Expo America in NYC
Jun 05, 2007: John Updike reads from The Terrorist, BN Union Square, NYC
Jun 06, 2007: Josh Wolk reads from Cabin Pressure. BN Park Slope NYC
Jun 07, 2007: Sylvain Cypel reads from WALLED: Israeli Society at an Impasse. BN UWS NYC
HEY.. NOW YOUR CAN SEARCH OUR SITE, INSTEAD OF JUST SEARCHING AMAZON. TRY IT OUT...
YOU'VE SEEN ALL THOSE ISRAELI'S IN BKK
NOW READ WHAT THEY ACTUALLY DO ON KAOSAHN ROAD...
I LAUGHED OUT LOUD MANY TIMES ON THE SUBWAY READING IT
My Travels Through Asia as a Twenty-Year-Old Pseudo-Virgin
by Iris Bahr
March 2007. Bloomsbury
Move over David Sedaris, the Greco American who writes of Paris. We now have a Jewish American who writes of Asia. Fresh out of the Israeli Army, twenty-year-old Iris Bahr decides to follow the footsteps of many before her and backpack through Asia. Only unlike the average traveler, she has more in mind than just seeing the sights: she is on a desperate mission to lose her virginity. Dork Whore is a fresh and funny memoir about a young woman whose quirky personality and embarrassing neuroses always seem to get in the way of her getting what she wants. As Iris lands in hotel rooms in Bangkok, rides scooters out of opium-fogged compounds hidden in the jungle, and antagonizes an impromptu tour group in Vietnam, she begins to realize that the greatest obstacle she'll have to overcome isn't losing her virginity, but coming to terms with the reasons for her need to be accepted. Poignant, hilarious, and always original, Dork Whore is a remarkable mix of bawdy humor and heartbreaking moments, witty intelligence and touching personal discoveries. Iris Bahr has given us an unforgettable coming-of-age tale about how a young woman finally learns how to trust others-and her own judgment. Click the book cover to read more.
by Enid Shomer
March 2007, Random House
A collection of short stories about women charting unfamiliar territory, whether in Brooklyn or the Cayman trench. In one, a Jewish woman travels to Tibet where she accepts, with hesitation, her birthright as the reincarnation of a saint. In another, a Radcliffe student, home for the summer, is attracted to her cousin. Click the book cover to read more.
How Doctors Think
by Jerome Groopman
March 2007, Houghton Mifflin Company
Jerome Groopman, M.D., holds the Dina and Raphael Recanati Chair of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and is chief of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He has published more than 150 scientific articles.
When he received his honorary degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2002, he told how as an oncologist he had to tell a patient that he had no more drugs that could save her. But she told him that his friendship was a healing drug. In our dazzling hi-tech clinical world, with surgical instruments guided by robots that achieve superhuman precision, it is all too easy to overlook the type of medicine that is eternal, powerful, and can be administered by us all. The medicine of friendship is deeply grounded in Judaism, embodied in an ancient mitzvah, the mitzvah of bikur cholim, visiting the sick.
He contnued to relate that in the Talmud it is said that when you visit a sick person, you alleviate one sixtieth of the burden of their illness. And the rabbis further interpret the mitzvah of bikur cholim as being performed not only by men and by women but by God. Verses in Genesis indicate that Hashem appeared on a bikur cholim visit to Avraham after Avraham, 99 years old, circumcised himself and then took Ishmael, his son, and all the males in his household and circumcised them. In Genesis Chapter 18, Verse 1: "The Lord appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre..."
But this is not the book.. this is just some background. Now here is info on the great book:
On average, a physician will interrupt a patient describing her symptoms within eighteen seconds. In that short time, many doctors decide on the likely diagnosis and best treatment. Often, decisions made this way are correct, but at crucial moments they can also be wrong -- with catastrophic consequences. In this myth-shattering book, Jerome Groopman pinpoints the forces and thought processes behind the decisions doctors make. Groopman explores why doctors err and shows when and how they can -- with our help -- avoid snap judgments, embrace uncertainty, communicate effectively, and deploy other skills that can profoundly impact our health. This book is the first to describe in detail the warning signs of erroneous medical thinking and reveal how new technologies may actually hinder accurate diagnoses.
How Doctors Think offers direct, intelligent questions patients can ask their doctors to help them get back on track. Groopman draws on a wealth of research, extensive interviews with some of the country's best doctors, and his own experiences as a doctor and as a patient. He has learned many of the lessons in this book the hard way, from his own mistakes and from errors his doctors made in treating his own debilitating medical problems.
How Doctors Think reveals a profound new view of twenty-first-century medical practice, giving doctors and patients the vital information they need to make better judgments together.
. Click the book cover to read more.
National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel
A Guide to Eastern Europe
by Ruth Ellen Gruber
March 2007, National Geographic
Journalist, author, and travel expert Ruth Ellen Gruber presents a new edition of her acclaimed 1992 guide to Jewish heritage sites in Eastern Europe. Widely acknowledged as the best and most comprehensive book of its kind, this is the only Jewish travel guidebook that takes visitors to hundreds of fascinating sites in small villages and remote hamlets as well as major cities. This expanded and updated edition includes new coverage of Austria, Ukraine, and Lithuania in addition to Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and all of the former Yugoslavia, areas that are the ancestral home to the great majority of North American Jews. Gruber provides specific historical and cultural information about these Central and Eastern European nations. Then she journeys across each country, exploring Jewish roots in major cities and small shtetls, describing the vestiges of each Jewish community and offering personal insights and reflections on the various people she meets. Readers will find a wealth of practical travel information throughout, including a language guide, listings of useful local addresses, and up-to-date details on sites that have only recently become accessible to visitors. From exploring the massive 16th-century synagogue in the historic Polish town of Pincrow to strolling among the 12,000 headstones crowded into the old Jewish cemetery in Prague, to meeting resident Jews proudly embracing their ancient culture in Slovenia, this volume takes you on a very special and memorable tour. Click the book cover to read more.
Count Us In
Growing Up with Down Syndrome
by Jason Kingsley and Mitchell Levitz
March 2007, Harvest
Kingsley and Levitz write about education, employment, ambitions, families, sex and marriage, and their disability--Down syndrome--in a dialogue format. At Jason's birth, the obstetrician said that he'd never learn anything and should be institutionalized. Fortunately, the Kingsleys ignored this advice, and their son has since attended school, written poetry, registered to vote, and memorized scripts for appearances on "Sesame Street" and "The Fall Guy." Mitchell is an equally successful young man whose mother was one of the founders of the Parent Assistance Committee on Down Syndrome. Hearing about Down syndrome directly from these young men has a good deal more impact than reading any guide from a professional or even a parent. Their comments are eye-opening and heartening. Click the book cover to read more.
SHALOM IN THE HOME
SAVVY ADVICE FOR A PEACEFUL HOME
By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
March 2007. Meredith paperback
Feeling overwhelmed by your family life? Whether you're in crisis or just wish you were closer, family and relationship counselor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach can help. Influenced by his own experience as a child of divorce, the host of the TLC series Shalom in the Home gets to the heart of family dynamics and individual personalities to help families build deeper, more loving relationships. His insights and encouragements help you cope with all the most common domestic issues: relationships, parenting, in-laws, neighbors and more. "I'm here to inspire people to be good people first, a good couple second, and good parents third," says Shmuley. He illustrates how families can strengthen their bonds with unforgettable stories of families in crisis who undergo intensive counseling to improve their relationships and bring peace, or "shalom," to their homes . Click the book cover to read more.
UNCOVERING THE HOLOCAUST
THE INTERNATIONAL RECEPTION of NIGHT AND FOG
EDITED BY EWOUT VAN DER KNAAP, Utrecht
March 2007. Columbia
Nuit et Brouillard (Night and Fog) was released in France in 1956 by Alain Resnais. Now, 50 years later, this book examines how it represented the Holocaust and how it was received worldwide. Click the book cover to read more.
She loved Chagall
and wasn't ashamed of that. -T Carmi
by Jonathan Wilson
March 2007. Schocken Books
From Publishers Weekly: Born Moishe Shagal in 1887, the son of a poor Orthodox Jewish laborer drew lifelong inspiration from his native Vitebsk, Belorussia. Chagall became famous for painting explosively colorful rooftop fiddlers, airborne cows and lovers floating above onion-domed churches, and a tallith-wrapped crucified Jesus. A victim of anti-Semitism who was ambivalent about his role as a Jewish artist, Chagall adorned churches and synagogues with stained-glass windows and often chose Christ as his symbol of martyrdom when depicting Jewish tragedies. Chagall's road to fame is mapped out by Wilson: his exposure, as a St. Petersburg student, to Matisse's dazzling palette; feverishly productive early years in Paris, where he absorbed an array of artistic influences; his immersion in politics in postrevolution Vitebsk, where he founded an art school; his return to Paris, where the legendary Vollard became his art dealer; and his New York exile during the Holocaust, where his beloved wife, Bella, died (he lived on for four more decades). Wilson's critiques (particularly of Chagall's "slippery" identity and his work's supposed sentimentality) are familiar, and this is less a fresh biography than a synthesis of writings by Benjamin Harshav, Chagall and his intimates. But Wilson (A Palestine Affair) is an incisive, lively writer. Domestic photos are included, but the omission of color reproductions of Chagall's oeuvre in this entry in the Jewish Encounters series is frustrating. Click the book cover to read more.
by Rebecca Walker
March 2007. Riverhead
From Publishers Weekly: The author of Black, White and Jewish gives voice to the uncertainty of her generation in a powerful new memoir. In journal format, beginning with the day her pregnancy is confirmed and ending as she and her partner bring their son home, Walker tells of her physical and emotional journey toward motherhood, poignantly reflecting on the ambivalence that has delayed her dream of having a child for years. Like many 20- and 30-somethings, she was raised to view partnership and parenthood as the least empowering choices in an infinite array of options. This tension comes to the fore as Walker's mother, Alice Walker, opposes her decision to have a baby and challenges her account of their relationship in Black, White and Jewish. Alice ends their relationship and removes Rebecca from her will, and Rebecca endures a tumultuous pregnancy, estranged from her mother as she prepares to become one herself. Elusive health complications arise, and she hops from doctor to doctor, ever wary of Western medicine. Through a lengthy litany of decisions (midwife versus M.D., stroller versus "travel system"), she Googles her way to information overload. At the end of this nine-month mental tug-of-war, she emerges changed: a meat eater, a committed partner with a renewed faith in intimacy, a new woman plus-one. Walker's story is accessible and richly textured, told with humor, wit and warmth. Click the book cover to read more.
TO BE AN ARAB IN ISRAEL
BY LAURENCE LOUER, Ceri-Paris
March 2007. Columbia
MS. LOUER is an Arabist and specializes in Middle East studies. From the cover... To Be an Arab in Israel fills a long-neglected gap in the study of Israel and the contemporary Arab world. Whether for ideological reasons or otherwise, both Israeli and Arab writers have yet to seriously consider Israel's significant minority of non-Jewish citizens, whose existence challenges common assumptions regarding Israel's exclusively Jewish character.
Arabs have been a presence at all levels of the Israeli government since the foundation of the state. Laurence Louër begins her history in the 1980s when the Israeli political system began to take the Arab nationalist parties into account for the political negotiations over coalition building. Political parties-especially Labour-sought the votes of Arab citizens by making unusual promises such as ownership and access to land. The continuing rise of nationalist sentiments among Palestinians, however, threw the relationship between the Jewish state and the Arab minority into chaos. But as Louër demonstrates, "Palestinization" did not prompt the Arab citizens of Israel to set aside their Israeli citizenship. Rather, Israel's Arabs have sought to insert themselves into Israeli society while simultaneously celebrating their difference, and these efforts have led to a confrontation between two conceptions of society and two visions of Israel. Louër's fascinating book embraces the complexity of this history, revealing the surprising collusions and compromises that have led to alliances between Arab nationalists and Israeli authorities. She also addresses the current role of Israel's Arab elites, who have been educated at Hebrew-speaking universities, and the continuing absorption of militant Islamists into Israel's bureaucracy. Click the book cover to read more.
THE STORY OF THE KLEZMORIM
BY HEIDI SMITH HYDE
ILLUS BY JOHANNA VAN DER STERRE
March 2007. Kar-Ben
Ages 5 - 9. Mendel, a musician comes to America. Years later, Mendel's great grandson finds the dusty accordion in an attic and starts a klezmer band, too. Click the book cover to read more.
The Secret of Priest's Grotto
A Holocaust Survival Story
by Peter Lane Taylor and Christos Nicola
Ages 10 and up, Grades 5 and up. From Booklist
*Starred Review* Part survival adventure, part searing history, and part discovery story, this amazing account describes how three Ukrainian Jewish families survived the Holocaust by hiding in a cave near their village for 344 days. Sixty years later, in 2003, Nicola explored the cave and found signs of human habitation. His Internet searches eventually connected him with some of the survivors, now living in Canada and the U.S., from whom he learned how 38 people, including toddlers and a 75-year-old grandmother, fled the Nazis and lived in four underground rooms, sealed off from the outside world. Color photos take readers to the site and show some of the people now, while black-and-white historical ones give an idea of the past. Particularly moving are the images of the relics found at the site--a shoe, a mug, a key to a house left forever. Readers will want more about the Ukrainian peasant who helped the families, but there's no denying the power of the story; when they came outside after nearly a year underground, some of the people had forgotten the sun. Click the book cover to read more.
A Political Education
Coming of Age in Paris and New York
by Andre Schiffrin
March 21, 2007. Melville House
Andre Schiffrin's father was one of France's most important publishers, discovering Andre Gide and others. But the family had to flee Nazi-occupied Paris. They landed in New York, along with friends including Hannah Arendt and visitors such as Sartre. By the time Andre went to college, he felt more American than French. But family history left him unable to idly watch the rise of the American Right under Senator Joseph McCarthy. At Yale, he became a radicalized leftist, joining a student political group he -renamed Students for a Democratic Society-the SDS. Continuing his education at Cambridge, he befriended some of England's greatest publishers and discovered ways to channel his political interests through publishing. This absorbing saga about a tumultuous period is told from a unique perspective, encompassing both sides of the Atlantic and some of the leading figures of the day. It is also a fascinating glimpse into the development of a celebrated publisher and a passionate testament to the importance of books as a force for betterment. Click the book cover to read more.
Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don't Believe In Jesus
by Asher Norman
Spring 2007. Feldheim
Rabbi Parry writes: This book is a Jewish answer to why Jews don't believe in Jesus. It is readable, well organized, and sometimes quite surprising. The author is candid yet very polite in his polemics. "Twenty-Six Reasons" shines the light of Torah on the theological issues. The author has found a creative way to present otherwise complex material in a simple manner that allows even a beginner to answer missionary challenges to Judaism. Click the book cover to read more.
Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible
by Karel van der Toorn
Spring 2007. Harvard University Press
Book Cover: We think of the Hebrew Bible as the Book--and yet it was produced by a largely nonliterate culture in which writing, editing, copying, interpretation, and public reading were the work of a professional elite. The scribes of ancient Israel are indeed the main figures behind the Hebrew Bible, and in this book Karel van der Toorn tells their story for the first time. His book considers the Bible in very specific historical terms, as the output of the scribal workshop of the Second Temple active in the period 500-200 BCE. Drawing comparisons with the scribal practices of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, van der Toorn clearly details the methods, the assumptions, and the material means of production that gave rise to biblical texts; then he brings his observations to bear on two important texts, Deuteronomy and Jeremiah. Traditionally seen as the copycats of antiquity, the scribes emerge here as the literate elite who held the key to the production as well as the transmission of texts. Van der Toorn's account of scribal culture opens a new perspective on the origins of the Hebrew Bible, revealing how the individual books of the Bible and the authors associated with them were products of the social and intellectual world of the scribes. By taking us inside that world, this book yields a new and arresting appreciation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Click the book cover to read more.
Our Favorite Fakes, Frauds, Lowlifes, Liars, the Armed and Dangerous, and Good Guys Gone Bad
by Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder
March 2007. Collins
Jackie Mason, one of the true kings of comedy, and his partner in crime, federal prosecutor and celebrity attorney Raoul Felder, go after America's lowlifes, scumbags, and everything else that really gets on their nerves.
This book spares no one. Politicians, sports stars, celebrities, corporations, publishers, crossing guards-they're all fair game. If you are a scumbag, or just someone who Jackie and Raoul find annoying, there is a fair chance you are on the list. Schmucks! combines Mason's and Felder's nails-to-the-wall political satire with insightful observations on the foibles of modern life to create material that will leave you crying with laughter.
Just a few of the Schmucks included are: Bill Clinton, Mel Gibson, Barbra Streisand, Katie Couric, Barry Bonds, And a cast of hundreds. Click the book cover to read more.
MUST READ ALERT!!
Knowing the Enemy
Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror
by Mary Habeck
March 2007. Yale
After September 11, Americans agonized over why nineteen men hated the United States enough to kill three thousand civilians in an unprovoked assault. Analysts have offered a wide variety of explanations for the attack, but the one voice missing is that of the terrorists themselves. This penetrating book is the first to present the inner logic of al-Qa'ida and like-minded extremist groups by which they justify September 11 and other terrorist attacks. Mary Habeck explains that these extremist groups belong to a new movement-known as jihadism-with a specific ideology based on the thought of Muhammad ibn Abd al- Wahhab, Hasan al-Banna, and Sayyid Qutb. Jihadist ideology contains new definitions of the unity of God and of jihad, which allow members to call for the destruction of democracy and the United States and to murder innocent men, women, and children. Habeck also suggests how the United States might defeat the jihadis, using their own ideology against them.
From Booklist: *Starred Review* Yale historian Habeck takes Muslim terrorists at their word. They aren't envious of liberal democracy or the consumer society. Religion drives them--specifically, an exclusivist, triumphalist vision of Islam that Habeck calls jihadism to point up its holy-war-like character rather than its orthodoxy. The latter is problematic, for while jihadism is based on universally accepted Muslim principles and traditions, what it has forged out of them is highly controversial, not least because jihadists consider Muslims who disagree with them to be unbelievers as worthy of destruction as non-Muslims. Habeck traces the current of Islamic thought that eventuated in jihadism from an early-fourteenth-century scholar and the eighteenth-century founder of the harshly restrictive Islam predominant in Saudi Arabia to four twentieth--century figures who inspired a host of radical reactionary organizations, including Hamas and al-Qaeda. Habeck repeatedly reminds us that jihadists constitute a small minority, but she doesn't expound moderate Islam, much less Christianity or Judaism, to answer or refute jihadism. Her purpose is to reveal jihadism. So doing, in considerable detail and with admirable clarity, she contributes one of the most valuable books on the ongoing Middle East--and world--crisis. Click the book cover to read more.
Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad
by Matthew Levitt, with a foreword by Dennis Ross
March 2007. Yale
From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Levitt, formerly a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and now a deputy assistant secretary in the Treasury Department, has completed a timely assessment of one of the world's most prolific terrorist organizations. As Hamas wields increasing power within the Palestinian Authority, Levitt offers a sobering analysis of the group's likely priorities and of the quickly dimming prospects for peace in this most intractable of conflicts. Probably the most comprehensive study of the tactics, finances and structures of the Islamic resistance movement ever published, many of the details will primarily interest the specialist. In nine heavily annotated chapters, Levitt explores Hamas's infrastructure, laying out detailed blueprints for indoctrination, money laundering, public outreach and militant activities, charting the anatomy of a typical attack down to the cost of each bullet. Levitt's well-documented assertion that there is essentially no separation between Hamas's military wing and its myriad charitable activities leaves him less sanguine than many commentators in the wake of the recent legislative elections. Levitt is likely to gain some enemies with evidence that, for instance, the Council on American-Islamic Relations is implicated in fund-raising for Hamas, but all his information is impeccably researched and compellingly presented. Click the book cover to read more.
Wash Post adds... In the spring of 1995 in Gaza City, I met Musa Ziyada, a 15-year-old boy with huge almond eyes. He had apparently been recruited by Hamas, the radical Islamist group, to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel -- a plot foiled at the last moment by Ziyada's alert uncle, an intelligence officer in the Palestinian Authority police force. Attracted to his local mosque from the age of 10, Ziyada was considered something of a prodigy in Koranic studies. He also played soccer on the mosque's Hamas-affiliated team, which refused to wear shorts. He was lured to his near-death -- or "martyrdom" -- with the promises that he would be rewarded with 70 virgins in Paradise and a free pass there for 70 relatives and friends. In those days, the Palestinian Authority was on to Hamas, eager to prove to Israel that it was fighting terror. But after the Islamists' surprise victory in the Palestinians' January 2006 parliamentary elections, Hamas is the Palestinian Authority -- a development that makes Matthew Levitt's revealing study both incredibly relevant and somewhat behind the times. Click book cover to read more of the review.
I DIDN'T KNOW THAT
By Joe Bobker
Spring 2007. Gefen
A humorous look at Jewish life. Is there a blessing for George Bush? Click the book cover to read more.
My Father's Secret War
by Lucinda Franks
March 2007. Mir a Max Books
From Publishers Weekly:
One day, while trying to straighten up her elderly father's apartment, Franks discovered Nazi military paraphernalia, inspiring the Pulitzer-winning reporter and novelist (Wild Apples) to investigate what he really did during the Second World War. The painstaking inquiries are hampered by his reluctance to discuss his work in military intelligence, attached to the navy's Bureau of Ordnance. Some of that reluctance may have to do with the onset of dementia tearing away his memories, but he's also profoundly traumatized by some of his missions. In one moving passage, he is persuaded to describe his experience as one of the first American observers at a liberated concentration camp, every sentence still painful to get out even 50 years later. As Franks perseveres with her questions, she begins to understand how those experiences shaped their disintegrating postwar family life, but she acknowledges how difficult it is to achieve closure with this past, especially when she's afraid to confront the reality of his present condition. Even the most painful moments-as when she throws a particularly harrowing revelation back in her father's face to score revenge for adolescent resentments-are recounted with unflinching honesty as the military history takes a backseat to the powerful family drama.
The author is the wife of Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau. Book Description: In this moving and compelling memoir about parent and child, father and daughter, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks discovers that the remote, nearly impassive man she grew up with had in fact been a daring spy behind enemy lines in World War II. Sworn to secrecy, he began revealing details of his wartime activities only in the last years of his life as he became afflicted with Alzheimer's. His exploits revealed a man of remarkable bravado -- posing as a Nazi guard, slipping behind enemy lines to blow up ammunition dumps, and being flown to one of the first concentration camps liberated by the Allies to report on the atrocities found there.
My Father's Secret War is an intimate account of Franks coming to know her own father after years of estrangement. Looking back at letters he had written her mother in the early days of WWII, Franks glimpses a loving man full of warmth. But after the grimmest assignments of the war his tone shifts, settling into an all-too-familiar distance. Franks learns about him -- beyond the alcoholism and adultery -- and comes to know the man he once was. Her story is haunting, and beautifully told, even as the tragedy becomes clear: Franks finally comes to know her father, but only as he is slipping further into his illness. Lucinda Franks understands her father as the disease claims him. My Father's Secret War is a triumph of love over secrets, and a tribute to the power of the connection of family Click the book cover to read more.
WHY DO GOOD MEMBERS GO BAD? WHY DO GOOD PEOPLE DO BAD THINGS?
THE LUCIFER EFFECT
UNDERSTANDING HOW GOOD PEOPLE TURN EVIL
BY PHILIP ZIMBARDO
March 2007. Random House
What makes good people do bad things? How can moral people be seduced to act immorally? Where is the line separating good from evil, and who is in danger of crossing it? Renowned social psychologist Philip Zimbardo has the answers, and in The Lucifer Effect he explains how-and the myriad reasons why-we are all susceptible to the lure of "the dark side." Drawing on examples from history as well as his own trailblazing research, Zimbardo details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent men and women.
Zimbardo is perhaps best known as the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Here, for the first time and in detail, he tells the full story of this landmark study, in which a group of college-student volunteers was randomly divided into "guards" and "inmates" and then placed in a mock prison environment. Within a week the study was abandoned, as ordinary college students were transformed into either brutal, sadistic guards or emotionally broken prisoners.
By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of harrowing phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide to how once upstanding American soldiers came to abuse and torture Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib. He replaces the long-held notion of the "bad apple" with that of the "bad barrel"-the idea that the social setting and the system contaminate the individual, rather than the other way around. This is a book that dares to hold a mirror up to mankind, showing us that we might not be who we think we are. While forcing us to reexamine what we are capable of doing when caught up in the crucible of behavioral dynamics, though, Zimbardo also offers hope. We are capable of resisting evil, he argues, and can even teach ourselves to act heroically. Like Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem and Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate, The Lucifer Effect is a shocking, engrossing study that will change the way we view human behavior. Click the book cover to read more.
SWEET AND LOW
BY RICH COHEN
March 2007. FARRAR STRAUS GIROUX
Now in paperback. From Publishers Weekly: Disinherited from the family fortune built by his maternal grandfather, Ben Eisenstadt, who invented the artificial sweetener Sweet'N Low, Cohen mines a wealth of family history in this funny, angry, digressive memoir. Ben worked as a short-order cook during the Depression and conceived of but failed to patent the sugar packet before he and his son Marvin hit pay dirt in the 1950s with the saccharin formula for Sweet'N Low. Today a distant third to Equal and Splenda, Sweet'N Low is run by Marvin's son Jeff, who took over after Marvin and several other chief officers were charged with tax evasion and criminal conspiracy in 1993. This story of the family-owned, Brooklyn-based company is, at its heart, a tale of immigrant strife and Cohen's fractious Jewish clan, including his grandmother Betty, for whom "love is finite," and his hypochondriac, housebound Aunt Gladys ("a tongue probing a sore"), who connived to eliminate her sister (Cohen's mother) from Betty's will. Though Cohen often dollies back in a self-conscious if breezy effort to pad his memoir with big ideas-the history of artificial sweeteners, the post-WWII weight-watching craze, etc.-the real grace of his writing (seen in Tough Jews) lies in the merciless, comic characterizations of his relatives. Click the book cover to read more.
APRIL 2007 BOOKS
HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE MONTH
NATIONAL POETRY MONTH
One day I observed a grey hair in my head;
I plucked it right out, when it thus to me said:
"You may smile, if you wish, at your treatment of me,
But a score of my friends soon will make of you a mockery."
- Yehuda ha-Levi, Circa 1130 CE
Oh good... move over Mel Brooks.. a comic novel on the Holocaust... But seriously, this is a great book which is a satire on those who abuse the Holocaust and "Shoah Business" and the cult of competitive one up-man-ship of victimization
by Tova Reich
April 2007. HarperCollins
Maurice and Norman Messer, father-and-son business partners, know a good product when they see it. That product is the Holocaust, and Maurice, a Holocaust survivor with an inflated personal history, and Norman, enjoying vicarious victimhood as a participant in the second-generation movement, proceed to market it enthusiastically. Not even the disappearance of Nechama, Norman's daughter and Maurice's granddaughter, into the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz, where she is transformed into a nun, Sister Consolatia of the Cross, deters them from pushing their agenda.
Father and son embark on a tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, which Maurice-now the driving force behind the most powerful Holocaust memorialization institution in America-organizes to soften up a potential major donor, and which Norman takes advantage of to embark on a surrealistic search for his daughter. At the death camp they run into assorted groups and individuals all clamoring for a piece of the Holocaust, including Buddhist New Agers on a retreat, Israeli schoolchildren on a required heritage pilgrimage, a Holocaust artifact hustler, filmmakers, and an astonishing collection of others. All hell breaks loose when Maurice's museum is taken over by a coalition of self-styled victims seeking Holocaust status, bringing together a vivid cast of all-too-human characters, from Holocaust professionals to Holocaust wannabees of every persuasion, in the fevered competition to win the grand prize of owning the Holocaust. An inspiringly courageous and shockingly original tour-de-force, My Holocaust dares to penetrate territory until now considered sacrosanct in its brilliantly provocative and darkly comic exploration of the uses and abuses of memory and the meaning of human suffering. Click on the book cover to read more.
THE PARIS PRESS LOVES THIS BOOK SO MUCH, IT IS THE ONLY BOOK THEY WILL PUBLISH THIS SEASON, so that they can focus solely on it Let's help them out!
By the way, this book's cover art is by Charlotte Solomon who was murdered in Auschwitz.
Tell Me Another Morning
An Autobiographical Novel
by Zdena Berger
April 1, 2007. Paris Press
WHEN THIS WAS first published in 1961, it was a sensation. But was overshadowed by Elie Wiesel's NIGHT. BUT WITH THE success of SUITE FRANCAISE, NIGHT, THE BOOK THIEF, and more, it is time for a reisssue of this classic
This autobiographical novel depicts a 14 year old teenage girl's experience in the Nazi concentration camps. As in The Diary of Anne Frank, Tania's youthful concerns are interwoven among accounts of extremity: her brother's murder, her mother's choice to stay with her father and die in the gas chamber rather than be transported to another camp, the saving friendships Tania develops, her relationships with young men and the guards. Throughout the novel we see claustrophobic uncertainty, grief, terror, exhaustion, and Tania's sustaining hope. Her return to Prague after the war is unforgettable and devastating, as she observes people wearing "normal" clothes, eating ice cream, and traveling on buses between work and home. There is no judgment, only the reality of two worlds existing simultaneously.
Zdena Berger was born in 1925 in Prague, where she lived until the Nazi occupation. She spent the war years as a prisoner of Terezin, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen. She was imprisoned at 16 and freed at 20. After the liberation of Bergen-Belsen in 1945, Berger returned to Prague to complete her education, and then lived in Paris for nearly a decade. She immigrated to San Francisco in 1955 and now lives with her husband in the Bay Area. Tell Me Another Morning is her only book. Click the book cover to read more.
The Years of Extermination
Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945
By Saul Friedlander (UCLA)
April 10, 2007. HarperCollins
With The Years of Extermination, Saul Friedländer completes his major historical work on Nazi Germany and the Jews. The book describes and interprets the persecution and murder of the Jews throughout occupied Europe. The enactment of German extermination policies and measures depended on the cooperation of local authorities, the assistance of police forces, and the passivity of the populations, primarily of their political and spiritual elites. This implementation depended as well on the victims' readiness to submit to orders, often with the hope of attenuating them or of surviving long enough to escape the German vise. This multifaceted study-at all levels and in different places-enhances the perception of the magnitude, complexity, and interrelatedness of the many components of this history. Based on a vast array of documents and an overwhelming choir of voices-mainly from diaries, letters, and memoirs-Saul Friedländer avoids domesticating the memory of these unprecedented and horrific events. The convergence of these various aspects gives a unique quality to The Years of Extermination. In this work, the history of the Holocaust has found its definitive representation.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. In the second volume of his essential history of Nazi Germany and the Jews, one of the great historians of the Holocaust provides a rich, vivid depiction of Jewish life from France to Ukraine, Greece to Norway, in its most tragic period, drawing especially on hundreds of diaries written by Jews during their ordeal, depicting a world collapsing on its inhabitants, along with the thousands of humiliating persecutions that Jews suffered on their way to extermination. Friedländer also provides insightful discussions of the many interpretive controversies that still surround the history of Nazi Germany. He has been party to many of the debates, and he remains attuned to the most recent historical research. Friedländer knows the bureaucratic workings of the Third Reich as well as anyone, but refuses to see in that alone the explanation for the Holocaust. Instead, he focuses largely on cultural and ideological factors. He considers other factors, such as "the crisis of liberalism," but these were not the essential motives for the Holocaust, which, Friedländer says, was driven by sheer hatred of Jews, by "a redemptive anti-Semitism" espoused by Hitler, a belief that Germans could thrive only through the utter destruction of Jews. This is a masterful synthesis that draws on a lifetime of learning and research.
Click the book cover to read more.
Also... see his first volume:
Nazi Germany and the Jews
Volume 1: The Years of Persecution 1933-1939
by Saul Friedlander
July 2007, paperback edition
Weidenfeld & Nicholson
A LIVING LENS
Photographs of Jewish Life from the Pages of the Forward
by Alana Newhouse
April 2007. WW Norton
This extraordinary volume features classic photographs of the history one has learned to associate with the Forward-Lower East Side pushcarts, Yiddish theater, labor rallies-along with gems no one would expect. The premiere national Jewish newspaper has opened up its never-before-seen archives, revealing a photographic landscape of Jews in the twentieth century and beyond. From shtetl beauty contests and matchmakers caught mid-deal to the streets of the New World; from diaspora communities and mandate Palestine to the Holocaust, the Soviet Jewry movement, and the emergence of Jewish suburbia; from Paul Muni and Barbra Streisand to Woody Allen and Madonna-this book is a kaleidoscopic array of modern Jewish life. Original essays are included by leading intellectuals and historians, including Leon Wieseltier, J. Hoberman, Roger Kahn, and Deborah E. Lipstadt, plus an introduction by Pete Hamill. A great gift book in the tradition of Roman Vishniac's A Vanished World and Frederic Brenner's Diaspora: Homelands in Exile. 531 duotone photographs. Click the book cover to read more.
Einstein: His Life and Universe
by Walter Isaacson
April 2007. Simon and Schuster
From Publishers Weekly: Acclaimed biographer Isaacson examines the remarkable life of "science's preeminent poster boy" in this lucid account (after 2003's Benjamin Franklin and 1992's Kissinger). Contrary to popular myth, the German-Jewish schoolboy Albert Einstein not only excelled in math, he mastered calculus before he was 15. Young Albert's dislike for rote learning, however, led him to compare his teachers to "drill sergeants." That antipathy was symptomatic of Einstein's love of individual and intellectual freedom, beliefs the author revisits as he relates his subject's life and work in the context of world and political events that shaped both, from WWI and II and their aftermath through the Cold War. Isaacson presents Einstein's research-his efforts to understand space and time, resulting in four extraordinary papers in 1905 that introduced the world to special relativity, and his later work on unified field theory-without equations and for the general reader. Isaacson focuses more on Einstein the man: charismatic and passionate, often careless about personal affairs; outspoken and unapologetic about his belief that no one should have to give up personal freedoms to support a state. Fifty years after his death, Isaacson reminds us why Einstein (1879-1955) remains one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th century. Click the book cover to read more.
For those more into the DARK SIDE of Einstein's traits...
by Jurgen Neffe, Translated by Shelley Frisch
Spring 2007. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Albert Einstein is an icon of the twentieth century. Born in Ulm, Germany, in 1879, he is most famous for his theory of relativity. He also made enormous contributions to quantum mechanics and cosmology, and for his work he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921. A self-pronounced pacifist, humanist, and, late in his life, democratic socialist, Einstein was also deeply concerned with the social impact of his discoveries. Much of Einstein's life is shrouded in legend. From popular images and advertisements to various works of theater and fiction, he has come to signify so many things. In Einstein: A Biography, Jürgen Neffe presents a clear and probing portrait of the man behind the myth. Unearthing new documents, including a series of previously unknown letters from Einstein to his sons, which shed new light on his role as a father, Neffe paints a rich portrait of the tumultuous years in which Einstein lived and worked. And with a background in the sciences, he describes and contextualizes Einstein's enormous contributions to our scientific legacy.
DEATH RITES AND THE MAKING OF ISLAMIC SOCIETY
By Leor Helaevi, Texas A&M
April 2007. Columbia
In his probing study of the role of death rites in the making of Islamic society, Leor Halevi imaginatively plays prescriptive texts against material culture and advances new ways of interpreting highly contested sources. His original research reveals that religious scholars of the early Islamic period produced codes of funerary law not only to define the handling of a Muslim corpse but also to transform everyday urban practices. Relying on oral traditions, these scholars established new social patterns in the cities of Arabia, Mesopotamia, and the eastern Mediterranean. They distinguished Islamic rites from Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian rites and changed the way men and women interacted publicly and privately. In each chapter Halevi explores a different layer of human interaction, following the movement of the corpse from the deathbed to the grave. In the process he analyzes the real and imaginary relationships between husbands and wives, prayer leaders and mourners, and even dreamers and the dead. He describes how Muslims wailed for the deceased, prepared corpses for burial, marched in funerary processions, and prayed for the dead, highlighting the specific economic and political factors involved in these rituals as well as key religious and sexual divisions.
Offering a unique perspective on the making of Islamic social and religious ideals during this early period, Halevi forges a fascinating link between the development of funerary rites and the efforts of an emerging religion to carve out its own, distinct identity. Muhammad's Grave is a groundbreaking history of the rise of Islam and the roots of contemporary Muslim attitudes toward the body and society. Click the book cover to read more.
FOR THE RELIEF OF UNBEARABLE URGES
BY NATHAN ENGLANDER
Reissue Spring 2007 paperback, Vintage
"I suffer greatly under the urges with which I have been blessed," says Dov Binyamin, an orthodox Jew agonizing over his wife Chava's self-imposed celibacy, and one of several protagonists in Englander's stellar first collection who seek often ill-fitting rabbinical answers to thorny modern problems. When Dov's rebbe grants him authorization to see a prostitute, the consequences (not least of which is a case of VD) offer a moral fable of pathos and hilarity that is the signature key of these nine graceful and remarkably self-assured stories. Ranging expertly from contemporary Israel to New York and to isolated Yiddish communities in Russia and Europe, they spin a vision of 20th-century orthodox Judaism under siege from both political tyranny and the rapid pace of modern life. Englander's prose is spare and crystalline, capturing the singsong rhythms and sometimes contorted English of a primarily Yiddish cast, often striking a deliberately archaic tone, as in "The 27th Man," the Chekhovian tale of Pinchas Pelovits, a dreamy, unpublished writer in midcentury Russia. Not unlike Englander, Pinchas has "constructed his own world with a compassionate God and a diverse group of worshipers. In it, he tested these people with moral dilemmas and tragedies." Abducted by Stalin's henchmen, Pinchas composes a miniature masterpiece, a parable of faith in spite of an absent God, which he recites to his cell mates only minutes before being gunned down by a firing squad. Despite their surface mixture of humor and horror, these are stories of ideas, offering complex meditations on Judaism through the eyes of an astonishing range of characters: a disconsolate middle-age orthodox woman imprisoned in limbo by a husband who won't grant a divorce; a Cheeveresque Park Avenue financial analyst with a taxi-cab epiphany that he's Jewish; an American navigating the streets of contemporary Jerusalem during a terrorist campaign. Englander's reported $350,000 advance for this collection has made it one of the most bruited literary debuts of the year. Such brouhaha shouldn't cloud the achievement of these unpretentious and powerful stories. Click the book cover to read more.
The Ministry of Special Cases
by Nathan Englander
Spring 2007 Knopf
From Publishers Weekly: Reviewed by Allegra Goodman
Young writers are often told to write about what they know. In his 1999 collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, Nathan Englander spun the material of his orthodox Jewish background into marvelous fiction. But the real trick to writing about what you know is to make sure you know more as you mature. Englander's first novel, The Ministry of Special Cases, conjures a world far removed from "The Gilgul of Second Avenue." The novel is set in 1976 in Buenos Aires during Argentina's "dirty war." Kaddish Poznan, hijo de puta, son of a whore, earns a meager living defacing gravestones of Jewish whores and pimps whose more respectable children want to erase their immigrant parents' names and forget their shameful activities. Kaddish labors in the Jewish cemetery at night. His hardworking wife, Lillian, toils in an insurance agency by day, and their idealistic son, Pato, attends college, goes to concerts and smokes pot with his friends. When Pato is taken from home, Kaddish learns what it really means to erase identity, because no one in authority will admit Pato has been arrested. No one will even acknowledge that Pato existed. As Lillian and Kaddish attempt to penetrate the Ministry of Special Cases, Englander's novel takes on an epic quality in which Jewish parents descend into the underworld and journey through circles of hell. Gogol, I.B. Singer and Orwell all come to mind, but Englander's book is unique in its layering of Jewish tradition and totalitarian obliteration. At times Englander's motifs seem forced. Kaddish, whose very name evokes the memory of the dead, chisels out the name of a plastic surgeon's disreputable father, and in lieu of cash receives nose jobs for himself and his wife. Lillian's nose job is at first unsuccessful, and her nose slides off her face. One form of defacement pays for another. Kaddish fights with his son in the cemetery and accidentally slices off the tip of Pato's finger. Attempting to erase a letter, Kaddish blights a digit. But the fight seems staged, Pato's presence unwarranted except for Englander's schema. Other scenes are haunting: Lillian confronting bureaucrats; Kaddish appealing to a rabbi to learn if it is possible for a Jew to have a funeral without a body; Kaddish picking an embarrassing embroidered name off the velvet curtain in front of the ark in the synagogue. When he picks off the gold thread, the name stands out even more prominently because the velvet underneath the embroidery is unfaded, darker than the rest of the fabric. Englander writes with increasing power and authority in the second half of his book; he probes deeper and deeper, looking at what absence means, reading the shadow letters on history's curtain. Click the book cover to read more.
Have you ever sampled the work of Britain's Philip Roth??
Give this novel of his a try... :
By HOWARD JACOBSON
Spring 2007 Simon and Schuster
From Booklist: *Starred Review* Cartoonist Max Glickman's Jewishness, never far from mind, is his continuing subject. Raised in a nonobservant household outside Manchester, England, in the 1950s--where his atheist father sought to make Jewishness less of a burden and his mother played kalooki, a rummylike game favored by Jews--he was educated on the Holocaust by childhood friends. It was meek Manny Washinsky who first shared the Scourge of the Swastica, leading the two of them to develop the comic-book-history Five Thousand Years of Bitterness, later published by Max. And it was Manny who would murder his parents, gassing them in their beds, a deed that Max at midlife seeks to understand, initially in the interest of making a film. Jacobson's work has been described as seriously funny, and this fits that bill, ranging from theological debate (where was Elohim during Jewish persecutions?) to Max's accounts of his three marriages (to two shiksas and one Jewess, all with umlauts or diaereses in their names) to the descriptions of his cartoons. Jacobson's prose is pure pleasure--concise, markedly insightful, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny--and his message, ultimately, is a heartbreaker. An exceptional novel.
by Irene Nemirovsky
Paperback release April 2007, Vintage
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Celebrated in pre-WWII France for her bestselling fiction, the Jewish Russian-born Némirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, months after this long-lost masterwork was composed. Némirovsky, a convert to Catholicism, began a planned five-novel cycle as Nazi forces overran northern France in 1940. This gripping "suite," collecting the first two unpolished but wondrously literary sections of a work cut short, have surfaced more than six decades after her death. The first, "Storm in June," chronicles the connecting lives of a disparate clutch of Parisians, among them a snobbish author, a venal banker, a noble priest shepherding churlish orphans, a foppish aesthete and a loving lower-class couple, all fleeing city comforts for the chaotic countryside, mere hours ahead of the advancing Germans. The second, "Dolce," set in 1941 in a farming village under German occupation, tells how peasant farmers, their pretty daughters and petit bourgeois collaborationists coexisted with their Nazi rulers. In a workbook entry penned just weeks before her arrest, Némirovsky noted that her goal was to describe "daily life, the emotional life and especially the comedy it provides." This heroic work does just that, by focusing-with compassion and clarity-on individual human dramas.. Click the book cover to read more.
David and Solomon
In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition
by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman
Now in Paperback. April 2007. Free Press
Read a full excerpt here: http://www.simonsays.com/content/book.cfm?tab=1&pid=526035&agid=2
The historical reality of ancient Judah gave rise both to a dynasty and to a legend that was transformed and expanded in a process of historical reinterpretation that continues even today. This books shows how the images of David and Solomon evolved through the ages in response to pressures from the clergy and politics. Contexts got garbled, details to the story were added, and meanings changed. The book also examines why these two kings grew in importance in the Western tradition until they became the cornerstones of the Jewish tradition and powerful Christian metaphors for the church.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Lacking clear archeological evidence or extrabiblical testimony, biblical scholars are often challenged in persuading a skeptical world that the Bible's characters really existed and that their stories are actual historical records. The task of separating myth from history can be a daunting one. Finkelstein and Silberman, both renowned archaeologists (Finkelstein chairs the archaeology department [at Tel Aviv University; Silberman is a contributing editor to Archaeology magazine), take a different approach: integrating ancient heroic and warrior archetypes into the lives of the kings of Israel, thus synthesizing history and myth in support of the religious endeavor. The authors are careful to note that the absence of contemporary confirmation outside the Bible is no reason to believe that the characters did not actually exist. Rather, the biblical stories form the basis for a legend tradition in which the Davidic legacy gradually transforms "from a down-to-earth political program into the symbols of a transcendent religious faith that would spread throughout the world." Finkelstein and Silberman, who also had a winner with The Bible Unearthed, tell their story in a clear and easily understood manner, never boring but always challenging.
Click the book cover to read more.
The Diary of Petr Ginz
Edited by Chava Pressburger, Translated by Elena Lappin
APRIL 2007. Atlantic Monthly Press
Lost for sixty years in a Prague attic, this secret diary of a teenage prodigy killed at Auschwitz is an extraordinary literary discovery, an intimately candid, deeply affecting account of a childhood compromised by Nazi tyranny. As a fourteen-year old Jewish boy living in Prague in the early 1940s, Petr Ginz dutifully records the increasingly precarious texture of daily life. With a child's keen eye for the absurd and the tragic, he muses on the prank he played on his science class and then just pages later, reveals that his cousins have been called to relinquish all their possessions, having been summoned east in the next transport. The diary ends with Petr's own summons to Thereisenstadt, where he would become the driving force behind the secret newspaper Vedem, and where he would continue to draw, paint, write, and read, furiously educating himself for a future he would never see. Fortunately, Petr's voice lives on in his diary, a fresh, startling, and invaluable historical document and a testament to one remarkable child's insuppressible hunger for life. Click the book cover to read more.
I Can't Believe I'm Still Single
Sane, Slightly Neurotic (but in a Sane Way) Filmmaker into Good Yoga, Bad Reality TV, Too Much Chocolate, and a Little ... Point Anyone Who'll Let Me Watch Football
by Eric Schaeffer
APRIL 2007. Thunders Bay
Eric Schaeffer has always believed that when the time was right and he was ready that he would find the Big One (an intelligent, sexy, loving wife). But his last girlfriend said no to his proposal, and since then he hasn't met anyone he wanted to have a second date with. This is a wild, sometimes raunchy, sometimes poignant, and always honest account of a semi-famous man's attempts at love. See also: icantbelieveimstillsingle.com Click the book cover to read more.
PALESTINE, 1948, AND THE CLAIMS OF MEMORY
EDITYED BY AHMAD H. SA'DI and LILA ABU LUGHOD
April 2007. Columbia
For outside observers, current events in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank are seldom related to the collective memory of ordinary Palestinians. But for Palestinians themselves, the iniquities of the present are experienced as a continuous replay of the injustice of the past. By focusing on memories of the Nakba, or "catastrophe," of 1948, in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were dispossessed to create the state of Israel, the contributors to this volume illuminate the contemporary Palestinian experience and clarify the moral claims they make for justice and redress. The book's essays consider the ways in which Palestinians have remembered and organized themselves around the Nakba, a central trauma that continues to be refracted through Palestinian personal and collective memory. Analyzing oral histories and written narratives, poetry and cinema, personal testimony and courtroom evidence, the authors show how the continuing experience of violence, displacement, and occupation have transformed the pre-Nakba past and the land of Palestine into symbols of what has been and continues to be lost. Nakba brings to light the different ways in which Palestinians experienced and retain in memory the events of 1948. It is the first book to examine in detail how memories of Palestine's cataclysmic past are shaped by differences of class, gender, generation, and geographical location. In exploring the power of the past, the authors show the urgency of the question of memory for understanding the contested history of the present. Click the book cover to read more.
KAFKA AND CULTURAL ZIONISM
DATES IN PALESTINE
BY IRIS BRUCE, McMaster University
April 2007. University of Wisconsin Press
A portrait of the life of Kafka by a top Kafka schaolr. This is an analysis of his Jewish identity. His interest in Zionism demonstrates the presence of Jewish themes and motifs in his literary works. Kafka was engaged with his cultural identity and his works must be read in light of this. Click the book cover to read more.
Behind The scenes...
The Power of the Vote
Electing Presidents, Overthrowing Dictators, and Promoting Democracy Around the World
by Douglas E. Schoen
April 2007. Morrow
Do you remember how two years into Clinton's administration, after Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the healthcare debacle, his administration was losing support, and the Republicans swept into Congress in 1994? Do you think Clinton won in 1996 by magic? It was the polling research by Schoen and his firm that helped Clinton recraft his image. Douglas E. Schoen is a founding partner and principal strategist of Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, Inc., a leading political consulting firm. While David Garth, Pat Caddell, Sawyer/Miller, Weber Shandwick, Napolitan, and others were household names in polling, political messaging, and prime voter analysis, Penn & Schoen have flown under the popular radar for over two decades. Over the past twenty years, Schoen and his firm have provided advice to clients including President Bill Clinton; Senators Hillary Clinton, Jon Corzine, John D. Rockefeller IV, and Mark Dayton; Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel; President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic; Ed Koch and many other national and international figures. They even told Koch he would lose a primary for NY State governor. He fired them and then apologized after their analysis was shown to be accurate. IN this book, Schoen provides an inside look at campaigns and elections. Of course, not even all the polling in the world could have helped Schoen win a Congressional seat in Queens against the popular Gary Ackerman, but nevertheless, this book is chock full of stories in which polling helped change campaign strategies and win elections. Click the book cover to read more.
Still need a another political book... ?
Concessions of a Serial Campaigner
by Robert Shrum
June 2007. Simon and Schuster
He was named by The Atlantic Monthly as "the most sought-after strategist in the Democratic party." He was targeted by National Review as the Democratic Party's "poet goon." From his unique perspective, Robert Shrum gives us an epic and personal story of the struggle for power in America during the past four decades. With wit and humor, rare candor, and a wealth of detail, he vividly recounts the real personalities and real forces that shaped the outcome of the closest and most important elections of our time. We are there with Shrum in the back rooms, on the planes, and in the motorcades with Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. Shrum reveals the manipulations and limitations of old and new forms of political persuasion, from the historic and sometimes controversial speeches he wrote to the negative ads he created for national and statewide candidates, from prepping presidential nominees for critical debates to the deployment of the new political weapon, the Internet. He lifts the curtain on decisive moments. Did John Kerry and John Edwards actually believe in the Iraq war they voted for? What was the real reason the Kerry campaign didn't respond faster to the Swift Boat attacks? Why didn't Al Gore let Bill Clinton campaign all-out in 2000? How did Clinton get through the first perilous week of the Lewinsky scandal?
This is a provocative journey through recent history: George McGovern's antiwar campaign of 1972, the improbable rise of Jimmy Carter, Senate campaigns that made historic breakthroughs and shaped the presidential contests of the future, the gifts that made Bill Clinton a great politician -- and the circumstances and calculations that kept him from being a great president. As strategist, adviser, and often friend to the leaders he enlisted with, Shrum shows them as they are, with their strengths and human weaknesses -- as well as his own. Assailed as a populist who pushed the Democratic Party, in a phrase he coined, "to stand for the people, not the powerful," Shrum argues that unlike Republicans from Reagan on, Democrats fall short, politically or in office, when they trim their convictions and walk away from fundamental issues -- like universal health coverage. This is one of the most fascinating books ever written about the victories and defeats, the causes and candidates, the "flawed heroes" that drive the high drama of American politics. Click the book cover to read more.
ONCE UPON A COUNTRY
A PALESTINIAN LIFE
By SARI NUSSEIBEH WITH ANTHONY DAVID
April 2007. Farrar, Straus & Giroux
A prominent Palestinian's searching, anguished, deeply affecting autobiography, in which his life story comes to be the story of the recent history of his country. Sari Nusseibeh's autobiography is a remarkable book-one in which his dramatic life story and that of his embattled country converge in a work of great passion, depth, and emotional power.
Nusseibeh was raised to represent his country. His family's roots in Palestine traced back to the Middle Ages, and his father was the governor of Jerusalem. Educated at Oxford, he was trained to build upon his father's support for coexistence and a negotiated solution to the problems of the region. But the wars of 1967 and 1973 spelled the beginning of the end for the vision of a unified Palestine-and Nusseibeh's response to these events, and to those that followed, gives us the recent history from a Palestinian point of view as no book has done. From his time teaching side by side with Israelis at Hebrew University through his appointment by Yassir Arafat to administer Arab Jerusalem, he holds fast to a two-state solution, even as the powers around him insist that it is impossible. As Palestine is torn apart by settlements and barricades, corruption and violence, Nusseibeh remains true to the ideals of his youth, determined to keep hold of some faint hope for the life of his country. Once Upon a Country is a book with the scope and vitality of an old-fashioned novel-one whose ending is still uncertain. Click the book cover to read more.
When the Grey Beetles Took Over Baghdad
by Mona Yahia
April 2007. Braziller
Winner of the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize for Fiction. In this vivid story of growing up in Baghdad, Mona Yahia tells a very personal story set against the backdrop of political upheaval and an increasingly fractured society. Lina clings to childhood and the security of her youth during the last peaceful period for the 2500-year-old Jewish community in Iraq. When that peace begins to crumble, the usual uncertainties of adolescence are augmented by growing fear following the increasingly anti-Semitic rhetoric from the government and outbreaks of violence which ultimately drive out nearly all of the remaining 150,000 Jews in Baghdad. As Lina struggles to understand these dark changes in Iraq, her first love is forced to flee, her father loses his job, her brother is arrested, and her young friend must search among the bodies of hanged Jews for his imprisoned father. As violent coups, arrests, and executions become everyday occurrences, Lina's family must leave the country they have called home for generations. In the dangerous flight to the border, they must evade the security police, traverse perilous mountains, and entrust their lives and safety to strangers. The book will resonate with audiences of all ages. Click the book cover to read more.
The Diary of Mary Berg
Growing Up in the Warsaw Ghetto
by Mary Berg
Edited by S L Schneiderman
Intro by Susan Lee Pentlin, trans by Norbert Gutterman and Sylvia Glass
April 2007. Oneworld-Publications.com
From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Today I am fifteen years old. I feel very old and lonely.... Everyone is afraid to go out. The Germans are here." So begins this extraordinary memoir of Jewish life in Lodz, Poland, and the Warsaw ghetto as the Nazis began to liquidate its starving and disease-ridden inmates. In 1940 Berg fled Lodz with her parents and sister. They lived in the Warsaw ghetto, and in July 1942 were transferred to Pawiak prison within the ghetto. Originally published in the U.S. in February 1945, the memoir is based on notebooks that Mary Berg (née Wattenberg) smuggled out of Europe when she and her interned family were traded for German prisoners and sailed to America. This powerful testament documents Nazi brutalities, and the difference between those without means, who starved and died of typhus, and the more privileged, like Berg's family (her mother was American and her father relatively wealthy), who, for a time, were able to patronize ghetto cafes and attend the theater. Berg is a remarkably clear-eyed, skillful and heart-breaking recorder of those terrible years. Click the book cover to read more.
ISRAEL AND PALESTINE:
PEACE PLANS FROM OSLO TO DISENGAGEMENT
BY GALIA GOLAN, Herzliya and Darwin Professor Emerita of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
April 2007. Markus Wiener
The Oslo Accords, inaugurated with the historic Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn, marked a promising breakthrough for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These Accords, however, turned out to be but the first in a series of numerous proposals and plans over the next ten years, all designed to cope with repeated failures and disappointments as well as the major issues of the conflict itself. Golan explores these plans and proposals, concentrating on the key issues addressed by the parties directly involved, along with the contributions of the Americans, the Quartet as a whole, and the Arab League. This book is a valuable resource for understanding the conflict, the issues involved and the prospects for peaceful resolution. Click the book cover to read more.
Ten Approaches to Personalizing Prayer
by Aryeh Ben David
April 2007. Devora Press
Do you ever feel disconnected from God? Do you ever experience the stirrings of spirituality, only to get stuck as you move onward? Do you wonder if there is more than one approach to prayer? That's why we need a Godfile.
The Godfile encompasses our relationship with God. It consists of times when we are in dialogue with God and our belief is intact, and times when we sorely feel an absence. The ten approaches to prayer in this book are based on the writings of great thinkers, rabbis and personalities of the past 200 years. Each possesses a different aspect of truth. And each approach possesses an element of truth that may be helpful at different times. Several minutes of focus on any one of these ideas will transform your entire experience of prayer in the synagogue, at home, and in your heart.
Rabbi Aryeh Ben David is the Founder and Director of Ayeka: Center for Jewish Spiritual Education. He serves as the Rabbinical Educational Consultant for Hillel International, lecturing throughout the USA and internationally, and is the Director of Spiritual Education and Senior Faculty member of Pardes Institute in Jerusalem. Rabbi Ben David also served as the Educational Director of the Jerusalem campus of Livnot Click the book cover to read more.
Understanding the Afterlife in this Life
By Bernie Kastner
April 2007. Devora Press
Imagine you were told that you could glimpse the "other side," would you dare look? Could you hold yourself back from not looking? In this unique compendium of knowledge from modern science, the Torah and from human experience, the author helps us take the dare and exposes us to ideas and images of the afterlife as we know them. He brings together a variety of sources, stories and anecdotal evidence that will give the reader the courage to taste what awaits us next. In so doing, he shows us, in a most convincing way, that our lives don't end at death - in fact, we live on in a continuum of life. The basic premise of this eye-opening book is that we need to study the afterlife as early as possible and not wait until one reaches their golden years or becomes seriously ill. There is much value in the reading of eye-witness accounts of near-death experiences, becoming aware of what kabbalah has to teach, and by learning the powerful words of the Talmud. The sooner we can internalize these concepts, the faster we will get on course toward living a happier and more fulfilling life here in this world. Dr. Bernie D. Kastner's research has focused on new therapeutic approaches in dealing with death anxiety, end-of-life issues, and bereavement with particular emphasis on personal growth and healing. Click the book cover to read more.
A SHOUT IN THE SUNSHINE
By MARA W. COHEN IOANNIDES (Missouri State Univ)
April 2007. JPS Jewish Publication Society
Ages 10 and up.
Set in 15th-century Greece, this young adult novel tells the story of an extraordinary friendship between two boys from different cultural backgrounds. On the surface, Miguel, a refugee from post-Inquisition Spain, and David, the son of a wealthy Greek Jewish fabric merchant, have little in common. As they work together in David's family shop, they find they share a special connection that goes beyond the divide of rich and poor, Spanish and Greek. Will an argument over David's sister be more than their friendship can bear? A Shout in the Sunshine sheds light on an often forgotten part of Jewish history - the Greek Jewish experience. Set in tumultuous times for the Greek Jewish community, the book explores what happens when two distinct Jewish communities must learn to live together. In 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled the Jewish community of Spain. Sultan Beyazit II invited these refugees to Thessalonika, a community already home to a diverse Jewish population with deep roots in Greece. The melding of these different Jewish groups created a vibrant Jewish community that was, tragically, almost entirely destroyed during World War II.
This book is a testimony to the remarkable nature of this once thriving world. Click the book cover to read more.
SAVING THE JEWS
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT AND THE HOLOCAUST
By ROBERT n. ROSEN,
Foreword by Gerhard Weinberg, Afterword by Alan M. Dershowitz
Now in PAPERBACK
April 2007. Thunders Mouth
From Publishers Weekly: Was FDR an indifferent or possibly anti-Semitic president who abandoned European Jews, or was he a pragmatic leader who understood that the key to saving the Jews was winning WWII as swiftly as possible? This bloated, repetitious volume reads like one long apology as it takes on the so-called "revisionist" historians who question FDR's good will; it concludes that he should be "honored for [his] actions during World War II, not defamed." According to Rosen (The Jewish Confederates), FDR may have told ethnic jokes about Jews, but he also surrounded himself with Jewish friends and advisers like Henry Morgenthau Jr. FDR didn't have the political clout to change American immigration laws, and two-thirds of the refugees on the SS St. Louis, who were refused entry to the U.S. in 1939, are believed to have survived the war. Roosevelt probably didn't know about requests by various Jewish leaders to bomb Auschwitz, an action that, Rosen says would have killed Anne Frank and other innocents. Although Rosen is able to debunk some of the more overheated claims put forth four decades ago by Arthur Morse in While Six Million Died, his often simplistic arguments don't undo landmark works like David Wyman's The Abandonment of the Jews.
Click the book cover to read more.
COMEDY BY THE NUMBER
Edited By Eric Hoffman and Gary Rudoren
April 2007. McSweeney's
Being funny is hard work: just ask Gary Rudoren and Eric Hoffman. Like many people, they once believed that comedy was simply a matter of coming up with "zingers" and "jokes." After countless hours of painstaking research, they've discovered that true creativity is derived from simple formulas and the memorization of data. Their groundbreaking new book makes the secrets of comedy accessible to all, not only to the naturally funny, but to those who lack the intrinsic ability or talent to be funny. With Comedy By The Numbers, readers no longer need worry about originality. They simply choose from the book's comedic blueprints - and hilarity ensues! A comprehensive list of comedy characters, bits, scenarios, sketches, skits, shtick, and more helps readers build a memory bank of funny material. Special hints, tips, comedy history, hilariously funny comedy facts, and inside secrets from Bob Odenkirk and other seriously funny people provide additional aid and amusement. Click the book cover to read more.
The Occupation of Iraq
Winning the War, Losing the Peace
by Ali A. Allawi
April 2007. Yale
From Publishers Weekly: Allawi, until recently a senior minister in the Iraqi government, provides an insider's account of the nascent Iraqi government following the American invasion. His scholarly yet immensely readable exposition of Iraqi society and politics will likely become the standard reference on post-9/11 Iraq. It convincingly blasts the Coalition Provisional Authority for failing to understand the simmering sectarian animosity and conflicting loyalties that led Iraq into chaos. Beginning during Saddam's reign, among the motley gang of liberal democrats, Islamists and Kurdish nationalists that formed the opposition-in-exile, of which Allawi was a prominent member, he chronicles the fortunes and aspirations of the political parties, personalities and interest groups that now are tearing Iraq apart. In one representative episode, after the siege of Fallujah in 2004, the Marines initiated an ill-fated attempt to create a Fallujah Brigade of local men who would be loyal to the CPA. "[Head of the CPA L. Paul] Bremer... learned about it from newspaper reports.... The defense minister [Allawi himself] went on television, denouncing the Fallujah Brigade.... The 'Fallujah Brigade,' after a few weeks of apparent cooperation with the Marines, began to act as the core of a national liberation army. Any pretense that they were rooting out insurgents was dropped." Click the book cover to read more.
The Lady Upstairs
Dorothy Schiff and the New York Post
by Marilyn Nissenson
April 2007. St Martin's Press
From Booklist: *Starred Review* Unlike the better-known Katharine Graham, Schiff did not inherit the control and operation of a national newspaper. Instead, she bought it. In 1939, Schiff bought the New York Post, to this day the longest continually published newspaper in the U.S. In this tantalizing biography, Nissenson reveals a fascinating woman who managed the Post from 1939 until 1976, when she sold it to Australian press baron Rupert Murdoch, ending the paper's career as an important voice of American liberal thought. Nissenson offers an intertwined look at the life of Schiff and the Post during the major social and political developments of American life, including the decline of postwar American liberalism. Schiff, the daughter of a prominent German-Jewish banking family, eschewed the life of a socialite and took up the newspaper business and liberal causes. The Post helped bring down Joseph McCarthy, broke the story of President Nixon's slush fund, and fostered the careers of renowned reporters Murray Kempton and Pete Hamill. Schiff's personal life was aglitter with romances with prominent men, including Franklin Roosevelt, and she was not averse to using her social status and personal charm to advance the Post. A thrilling biography. Click the book cover to read more.
The Inheritance of Exile
Stories from South Philly
by Susan Muaddi Darraj
April 2007. Notre Dame
In The Inheritance of Exile, Susan Muaddi Darraj expertly weaves a tapestry of the events and struggles in the lives of four Arab-American women. Hanan, Nadia, Reema, and Aliyah search for a meaningful sense of home, caught in the cultural gap that exists between the Middle East and the United States. Daughters of Palestinian immigrants who have settled into South Philly, each struggles to reconcile her Arab identity with her American one. Muaddi Darraj adds the perspectives of the girls' mothers, presented in separate stories, which illuminate the often troubled relationship between first and second generations of immigrants. Click the book cover to read more.
The Last Tycoons
The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co.
by William D. Cohan
grand and revelatory portrait of Wall Street's most storied investment bank
Wall Street investment banks move trillions of dollars a year, make billions in fees, pay their executives in the tens of millions of dollars. But even among the most powerful firms, Lazard Frères & Co. stood apart. Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were its weapons of choice. For more than a century, the mystique and reputation of the "Great Men" who worked there allowed the firm to garner unimaginable profits, social cachet, and outsized influence in the halls of power. But in the mid-1980s, their titanic egos started getting in the way, and the Great Men of Lazard jeopardized all they had built. William D. Cohan, himself a former high-level Wall Street banker, takes the reader into the mysterious and secretive world of Lazard and presents a compelling portrait of Wall Street through the tumultuous history of this exalted and fascinating company. Cohan deconstructs the explosive feuds between Felix Rohatyn and Steve Rattner, superstar investment bankers and pillars of New York society, and between the man who controlled Lazard, the inscrutable French billionaire Michel David-Weill, and his chosen successor, Bruce Wasserstein. Cohan follows Felix, the consummate adviser, as he reshapes corporate America in the 1970s and 1980s, saves New York City from bankruptcy, and positions himself in New York society and in Washington. Felix's dreams are dashed after the arrival of Steve, a formidable and ambitious former newspaper reporter. By the mid-1990s, as Lazard neared its 150th anniversary, Steve and Felix were feuding openly. The internal strife caused by their arguments could not be solved by the imperious Michel, whose manipulative tendencies served only to exacerbate the trouble within the firm. Increasingly desperate, Michel took the unprecedented step of relinquishing operational control of Lazard to one of the few Great Men still around, Bruce Wasserstein, then fresh from selling his own M&A boutique, for $1.4 billion. Bruce's take: more than $600 million. But it turned out Great Man Bruce had snookered Great Man Michel when the Frenchman was at his most vulnerable.
The Extraordinary Career of a Luxury Retailing Pioneer
by A. Alfred Taubman
In this candid memoir, A. Alfred Taubman explains how a dyslexic Jewish kid from Detroit grew up to be a billionaire retailing pioneer, an intimate of European aristocrats and Palm Beach socialites, a respected philanthropist and, at age 78, a federal prisoner.
With a unique blend of humor and genius, Taubman shows how selling fine art and antiques really isn't that different from marketing root beer or football, and offers penetrating insights into that quintessential palace of commerce, the luxury shopping mall. Alfred Taubman may not have invented the modern shopping center but, in the words of The New Yorker, "he perfected it."
Taubman's life has been a storybook success, with its share of unique challenges. A pioneer builder and innovative real estate developer, he was also a brilliant land speculator, operator of a quick-serve restaurant chain, and owner of a major department store company. But what seemed like the pinnacle of his career, buying and reinventing the venerable art auction house Sotheby's, would lead to his conviction in an international price fixing scandal.
Despite the twists and turns, Taubman's life and business philosophy can be summed up in one evocative phrase: Threshold Resistance. Understanding and defeating that force-breaking down the barriers between art and commerce, between shoppers and merchandise, between high culture and popular taste-has been his life's work.
MODERN TALES FROM CHELM
BY LEO SHATIN, PhD
SYREN BOOK COMPANY, APRIL 2007
In Simple Wisdom: Modern Tales from Chelm, storyteller Leo Shatin captures the flavor of life in the Eastern European Jewish community of Chelm (where there are no thieves, because there is little to steal), interweaving current social and psychological concepts through the escapades of the Three Tamen : Lazer, Coilee, and Moishe. These uncomplicated (many might mistakenly say foolish), but always kindhearted, men follow in the comic tradition of their renowned Hollywood kinsmen, Larry, Curly, and Moe. In one escapade after another, Lazer, Coilee, and Moishe display an uncanny knack of approaching life s ordinary dilemmas with convoluted and frequently outlandish solutions that all too often go awry. However, despite being repeatedly scoffed at and taken advantage of, these lovable, and loving characters never fail to see the good in their fellow human beings. Shatin s witty and thought-provoking stories are rooted in Jewish and Yiddish traditions and touch on themes that affect everyone Jew and non-Jew in our contemporary world of uncertainties and miscommunications. All of us, no matter how sophisticated and enlightened we might think we are, have much to learn from the philosophical ponderings and head-scratching logic of the Three Tamen from Chelm.
Leo Shatin received his Ph.D. in the Department of Social Relations of Harvard University. He was professor of clinical psychiatry at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City prior to his retirement and is the author of numerous scientific articles. He lives in Boca Raton, Florida.
Lust in Translation
The Rules of Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee
by Pamela Druckerman
April 2007, Penguin Press
An irreverent and hilarious journey around the world to examine how and why people cheat on their spouses; this global look at infidelity reveals that Americans are uniquely mixed up about being faithful. It's an adulterous world out there. Russian husbands and wives don't believe that beach-resort flings violate their marital vows. Japanese businessmen, armed with the aphorism "If you pay, it's not cheating," flock to sex clubs where the extramarital services on offer include "getting oral sex without showering first." South Africans may be the masters of creative accounting: Pollsters there had to create separate categories for men who cheat, and men who only cheat while drunk.
Pamela Druckerman, a former foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, decided to delve into this incredibly taboo topic. She interviews people all over the world, from retirees in South Florida to Muslim polygamists in Indonesia; from Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn to the men who keep their mistresses in a "concubine village" outside Hong Kong. Druckerman talks to psychologists, sex researchers, marriage counselors, and most of all, cheaters and the people they've cheated on, and concludes that Americans are the least adept at having affairs, have the most trouble enjoying them, and suffer the most in their aftermath. WHO ARE THE MOST WILD? WHO DO YOU THINK? JEWS and HASIDS (and not the FRENCH). Don't believe me? Read it for yourself. Hehe
A 32DDD Reports from the Front
by Susan Seligson
Spring 2007, Bloomsbury
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Like an artful comedienne, journalist Seligson (Going with the Grain), a self-avowedly well-endowed woman, wittily recounts her experiences as she anecdotally examines "what breasts mean to their bearers as well as their beholders." Assessing an abundant lexicon of breast slang, Seligson ponders the role of breasts as the marker of femininity, conversing with women of all ages about how their breast size affects their daily life and self-image. Quizzing experts on the evolutionary role of breasts for human sexual attraction, she surveys the history of the brassiere before purchasing "the perfect bra" at a renowned Manhattan retailer. Seligson's candid observations are hilarious as she visits a workaholic editor for Busty Beauties magazine and searches for the Guinness-record-holder for breast size, one Maxi Mounds, at an exotic dancing event. Questioning the global phenomenon of breast augmentation, Seligson reveals industry scams and discusses the psychology, ethics and cultural implications of implant consumerism with leading plastic surgeons and media scholars. Concluding with cross-dressers and their removable breasts, the author proclaims herself at peace with herself as "a person who happens to be stacked." Seligson's earthy merriment and compassionate humor triumph as she surefootedly tours a subject bound to elicit strong feelings ranging from adulation to derision. (Feb.)
The Olympics of 1936
by David Clay Large
April 2007, Norton
From Booklist: Perhaps Hitler's most conspicuous attempt to appropriate the iconography of classical Greece, the eleventh Olympiad was also the Third Reich's most successful public-relations coup. Through pageantry emphasizing German athleticism and cultural superiority, Hitler convinced skeptics abroad that his emergent Weltmacht could be both militaristic and peaceful. Stoking the flames of nationalism, Germany's preparations for the Olympics would also mask Hitler's more nefarious ambitions while priming Germans to mobilize for war. The author of several books on Nazi Germany and a celebrated "biography" (Berlin, 2001), Large here vividly describes how the Olympics catalyzed Nazi Germany's rise to power and how the controversies of 1936 would resonate though future Olympics. Approaching his topic with broad historical insight and an acute grasp of the political climate of the day, Large makes a strong case that international sports then, as now, should be considered politics by other means. Refreshingly, Large also dedicates significant space to the Olympic events themselves, which were often as dramatic as the political background.
MAY 2007 BOOKS
THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION
BY MICHAEL CHABON
May 2007. HarperCollins
With 250,000 copies in its first printing... it is an instant bestseller.
In his fourth novel, Mr. Chabon creates Sitka Alaska as a Jewish homeland for 3 million landsmen. It was the Alaska Territory welcomed European Jews marked for extermination in 1940. But first, let's start with the kernel of truth on which this novel is based. In 1939, Harold Ickes, FDR's Secretary of Interior, proposed in the Slattery Report that Sitka, in the Alaska territory, be made a refuge for European "refugees." The King-Havenner bill was developed in Congress, but the bill was CRUSHED in committee by Anthony J. Dimond, the Democratic Party non voting representative from Alaska to Congress. They knew that "refugees" was a codeword for Jews, and many did not want a Jew-Laska.
In Mr. Chabon's novel, Dimond is killed in a Washington DC freak accident. The bill passes, and Sitka becomes a temporary homeland for Yiddish speaking Jews. They fill in the water, create usable landfill, and become successful. In 1941, Pearl Harbor is attacked, the US goes to war, and 2 million Jews (not 6 million) are killed by the Nazis. In 1948, Israel is founded, but it is quickly destroyed by its Arab neighbors. The Israeli Jews are thrown into the Sea and massacred. Sitka Alaska prospers. Like salmon who fight to return home, only to become weary swimming upstream and eventually expire, one wonders if the search for a homeland will end with joy. It is now sixty years later, it is time for the Reversion of the land back to Alaska.
This is a story of faith and identity. The writing is fascinating. The details expressed in each sentence and paragraph are overwhelming, the use of metaphors and alliteration knock you over with greater force than a cold wind off the Gulf of Alaska. Reading this novel is like bathing your brain and eyes in a liquid dictionary and thesaurus
As the novel unfolds, it is a weird time to be a Jew, or even a chicken. Mount Edgecumbe, the Shvartsn-Yam grand yalta casino, and Halibut Point will revert back to Alaska. The Jews are restless, as are the indigenous Tlingits. Sitka will go dark like a basement lightbulb. There are reports that in the Northern Lights, people have seen a laughing Jewish face. Was he smiling or did he just have gas?
Others say that in a kosher slaughterhouse, a chicken attacked the shochet and announced the messiah's arrival (sort of like that talking fish in Monsey NY) As all this is occurring, slivovitz drinking Detective Meyer Landsmen, of the District Police Homicide division, finds the dead body of a former chess prodigy; he is his neighbor in a fleabag apartment hotel, The Hotel Zamenhof. Landmen is on the case, along with his partner Berko Shemets (helf Jewish/Half Tlingit Indian), and backup from Karpas and Tabachnik. Who is the murderer? And why do they, the powers that be, want this case to be swept under a carpet? It is a definitely strange time to be a Jew, and makes for the best read of 2007.
Click the book cover to read more.
Some Tidbits: Chabon likes to make up words. A latka, maybe since it is flat, is a flat foot patrol officer. Are the murder victim's initials meaningful? The mabsters are hasidic from Verbov, and Verbov is the shtetl from which his grandmother came to America. A "sholem" is a gun (but a shalom is peace, and in noir novels, a guun is a piece, so piece pease may be sholem, shalom)
How the novel was born:
A few years ago, Mr Chabon wrote a controversial essay about "Say It in Yiddish," a 1958 phrase book for travelers that he found both poignant and funny. "Where would be the most fabulous kingdom you could have taken this phrase book to, if the Holocaust hadn't happened?" he wondered. To him, the phrase book was predicated on the ultimate "Yiddishland," a place "where you might need to say 'Help, I need a tourniquet' " (which the phrase book thoughtfully provides).
After Mr. Chabon's essay appeared, he was attacked for mocking the language and prematurely announcing its demise. He had not realized that its revered authors, Uriel and Beatrice Weinreich, wrote the book at the request of the publisher because Yiddish was spoken widely in Israel in the 1950s and in other Yiddish communities around the world. "I had a double reaction," Mr. Chabon said. "I don't like having my ignorance pointed out to me. I was embarrassed and shamed. I had the nice Jewish boy impulse that I disrespected my elders and caused pain and embarrassment. But I also felt a total sense of irritation and spite."
And so, this novel was born
(By the way, Sitka is a 4,710-square-mile island, much of it mountains and national forest. It has a population of 8,947, of which no more than 35 adults are Jewish, according to Dr. Aryeh Levenson, is Sitka's JCC. He works for the Indian Health Service. Attorney David Voluck, a Hasidic Jew, also live in Sitka, as does Davey Lubin.)
Click the book cover to read more.
THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO THE TALMUD AND RABINIC LITERATURE
By Charlotte Fonrobert
May 2007. Cambridge University Press
Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert is the author Menstrual Purity: Rabbinic and Christian Reconstructions of Biblical Gender (2000) which won the Salo Baron Prize for a best first book In Jewish Studies of that year, and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. This volume guides beginning students of rabbinic literature to the range of historical-interpretive and culture-critical issues that contemporary scholars use when studying the rabbinic texts of late antiquity. The editors, themselves well-known interpreters of rabbinic literature, have gathered an international collection of scholars to support students' initial steps in confronting the enormous and complex rabbinic corpus. Unlike other introductions to rabbinic writings, the present volume includes approaches shaped by anthropology, gender studies, oral-traditional studies, classics, and folklore studies. Click the book cover to read more.
LAW, RELIGION, AND CULTURE IN ISRAEL
By Daphne Barak-Erez, Tel Aviv University
May 2007. University of Wisconsin Press
The story of pig breeding and pork trading legislation in Israel, with a decade by decade analysis of changing laws. The prohibition against pigs is one of the most powerful symbols of Jewish culture and collective memory. Outlawed Pigs explores how the historical sensitivity of Jews to the pig prohibition was incorporated into Israeli law and culture. Daphne Barak-Erez specifically traces the course of two laws, one that authorized municipalities to ban the possession and trading in pork within their jurisdiction and another law that forbids pig breeding throughout Israel, except for areas populated mainly by Christians. Her analysis offers a comprehensive, decade-by-decade discussion of the overall relationship between law and culture since the inception of the Israeli nation-state. By examining ever-fluctuating Israeli popular opinion on Israel's two laws outlawing the trade and possession of pigs, Barak-Erez finds an interesting and accessible way to explore the complex interplay of law, religion, and culture in modern Israel, and more specifically a microcosm for the larger question of which lies more at the foundation of Israeli state law: religion or cultural tradition. Click the book cover to read more.
A MUST READ FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY NOVELS AND WANT INSIGHT INTO ISRAELI LIFE BEYOND THE GREEN LINE
If You Awaken Love
by Emuna Elon. Translated by David Hazony.
May 2007. Toby Press
From Publishers Weekly: A Tel Aviv interior designer specializing in closed rooms and clients' privacy, 40-year-old Shlomtzion Drore closed herself off emotionally after her childhood sweetheart, Yair, broke off their engagement when his rabbi refused them his blessing. A rebound marriage, pregnancy and divorce quickly followed, as did an abandonment of the religious nationalism at the center of her relationship with Yair. Now it's the eve of Rabin's assassination in 1995, and Shlomtzion is a secular leftist who supports the Oslo peace accords and the dismantling of the controversial West Bank settlements. But when her daughter, Maya, undergoes a religious awakening and becomes engaged to Yair's son, Shlomtzion is forced to confront her old flame at his West Bank settlement home, and her pentup venom threatens to poison their children's happiness. West Bank resident Elon limns a vivid and dignified portrait of the Israeli religious minority, although at times her characters spout political rhetoric and Shlomtzion's overwritten obsession with Yair and their children's coincidental romance fails to suspend disbelief.
*Kirkus Starred Review* - Beautifully lyrical, with philosophical reflections on love and fate, family and politics, culture and history. Click the book cover to read more.
God Is Not Great
How Religion Poisons Everything
by Christopher Hitchens.
May 2007. Twelve
From Publishers Weekly: Hitchens, one of our great political pugilists, delivers the best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos. The same contrarian spirit that makes him delightful reading as a political commentator, even (or especially) when he's completely wrong, makes him an entertaining huckster prosecutor once he has God placed in the dock. And can he turn a phrase!: "monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents." Hitchens's one-liners bear the marks of considerable sparring practice with believers. Yet few believers will recognize themselves as Hitchens associates all of them for all time with the worst of history's theocratic and inquisitional moments. All the same, this is salutary reading as a means of culling believers' weaker arguments: that faith offers comfort (false comfort is none at all), or has provided a historical hedge against fascism (it mostly hasn't), or that "Eastern" religions are better (nope). The book's real strength is Hitchens's on-the-ground glimpses of religion's worst face in various war zones and isolated despotic regimes. But its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons "everything," which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy. Click the book cover to read more.
The Rise of Militant Islam among Palestinians in Lebanon
by Bernard Rougier, Pascale Ghazaleh (Translator)
May 2007. Harvard
As southern Lebanon becomes the latest battleground for Islamist warriors, Everyday Jihad plunges us into the sprawling, heavily populated Palestinian refugee camp at Ain al-Helweh, which in the early 1990s became a site for militant Sunni Islamists. A place of refuge for Arabs hunted down in their countries of origin and a recruitment ground for young disenfranchised Palestinians, the camp--where sheikhs began actively recruiting for jihad--situated itself in the global geography of radical Islam. With pioneering fieldwork, Bernard Rougier documents how Sunni fundamentalists, combining a literal interpretation of sacred texts with a militant interpretation of jihad, took root in this Palestinian milieu. By staying very close to the religious actors, their discourse, perceptions, and means of persuasion, Rougier helps us to understand how radical religious allegiances overcome traditional nationalist sentiment and how jihadist networks grab hold in communities marked by unemployment, poverty, and despair. With the emergence of Hezbollah, the Shiite political party and guerrilla army, at the forefront of Lebanese and regional politics, relations with the Palestinians will be decisive. The Palestinian camps of Lebanon, whose disarmament is called for by the international community, constitute a contentious arena for a multitude of players: Syria and Iran, Hezbollah and the Palestinian Authority, and Bin Laden and the late Zarqawi. Witnessing everyday jihad in their midst offers readers a rare glimpse into a microcosm of the religious, sectarian, and secular struggles for the political identity of the Middle East today. Watch for the film in the coming decade.
Dancing with Rose
Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's
by Lauren Kessler
May 2007. Penguin
One journalist's riveting-and surprisingly hopeful-in-the-trenches look at Alzheimer's, the disease that claimed her mother's life Like many loved ones of Alzheimer's sufferers, Lauren Kessler was devastated by the ravaging disease that seemed to turn her mother into another person before claiming her life altogether. To deal with the pain of her loss, and to better understand the confounding aspects of living with a disease that afflicts four and a half million people every year, Kessler enlisted as a caregiver at a facility she calls Maplewood. Life inside the facility is exhausting and humbling, a microenvironment built upon the intense relationships between two groups of marginalized people: the victims of Alzheimer's and the underpaid, overworked employees who care for them. But what surprises Kessler more than the disability and backbreaking work is the grace, humor, and unexpected humanity that are alive and well at Maplewood. Dancing with Rose is forceful and funny, clear-eyed and compelling. An intriguing narrative about the relationships and realities of end-of-life care, it stars an endearing cast of characters who give a human face to what has always been considered a dehumanizing condition. Illuminating and beautifully written, Kessler's immersion offers a new, optimistic view on what Alzheimer's has to teach us. Watch for the film in the coming decade.
Inventing Jewish Ritual
New American Traditions
by Vanessa Ochs, NEA Fellowship, Univ of Virginia
May 2007. JPS, Jewish Publication Society
Vanessa Ochs invites her readers to explore how Jewish practice can be more meaningful through renewing, reshaping, and even creating new rituals--blessings for newborn daughters, Miriam's cup, becoming an elder, and more.
We think of rituals -- the patterned ways of doing things that have shared and often multiple meanings -- as being steeped in tradition and therefore unalterable. But rituals have always been reinvented. When we perform ancient rituals in a particular place and time they are no longer quite the same rituals they once were. Each is a debut, an innovation: this Sabbath meal, this Passover seder, this wedding -- firsts in their own unique ways.
In the last 30 years there has been a surge of interest in reinventing ritual, in what is called minhag America. Ochs describes the range and diversity of interest in this Jewish-American experience and examines how it reflects tradition as it revives Jewish culture and faith. And she shows us how to create our own ritual objects, sacred spaces, ceremonies, and liturgies that can be paths to greater personal connection with history and with holiness: baby-naming ceremonies for girls, divorce rituals, Shabbat practices, homemade haggadahs, ritual baths, healing services.
Through these and more, we see that American Judaism is a dynamic cultural process very much open to change and a source of great personal and communal meaning. Click the book cover to read more.
Folktales of the Jews
Tales from Eastern Europe
Edited by Dan Ben-Amos (Penn), Dov Noy (Hebrew Univ), and Trans. by Lenn Schramm
May 2007. JPS, Jewish Publication Society
550 pages. Tales from Eastern Europe presents 71 tales from Ashkenasic culture in the most important collection of Jewish folktales ever published. It is the second volume in Folktales of the Jews, the five-volume series to be released over the next several years, in the tradition of Louis Ginzberg's classic, Legends of the Jews. The tales here and the others in this series have been selected from the Israel Folktale Archives at The University of Haifa, Israel (IFA), a treasure house of Jewish lore that has remained largely unavailable to the entire world until now.
Since the creation of the State of Israel, the IFA has collected more than 20,000 tales from newly arrived immigrants, long-lost stories shared by their families from around the world. The tales come from the major ethno-linguistic communities of the Jewish world and are representative of a wide variety of subjects and motifs, especially rich in Jewish content and context. Each of the tales is accompanied by in-depth commentary that explains the tale's cultural, historical, and literary background and its similarity to other tales in the IFA collection, and extensive scholarly notes. There is also an introduction that describes the Ashkenasic culture and its folk narrative tradition, a world map of the areas covered, illustrations, biographies of the collectors and narrators, tale type and motif indexes, a subject index, and a comprehensive bibliography. Until the establishment of the IFA, we had had only limited access to the wide range of Jewish folk narratives. Many of the communities no longer exist as cohesive societies in their representative lands; the Holocaust, migration, and changes in living styles have made the continuation of these tales impossible. This volume and the others to come will be monuments to a rich but vanishing oral tradition. Click the book cover to read more. SEE ALSO, The Sephardic Volume 1, Tales from the Sephardic Dispersion
The Jews of Saint-Martin-Vesubie and Their Flight through France and Italy
by Susan Zuccotti
May 2007. Yale
From Publishers Weekly: Occupied by Italy in 1943, the southern French town of Saint-Martin-Vésubie served as a haven for Jews from all over Europe. But after Italy's armistice with the Allies, the Italians left the town and many Jews crossed the Alps into Italy, seeking further refuge, only to find themselves face-to-face with the Germans; many were deported to Auschwitz. Zuccotti describes the remarkable scene of the Fremch town square in the summer of 1943 filled with Yiddish-speaking Jews, and reports both positive and tense relations between the refugees and their hosts. Zuccotti (The Italians and the Holocaust) explores these events through the dramatic stories of nine Jewish families, tracing their flight across the continent. These incredible stories demonstrate the perseverance and luck involved in surviving the Holocaust: one man survived as a boy by jumping a fence the night before a deportation and yelling to a passerby to catch him. Other stories come to a chilling end. While relying on oral histories of survivors of these events, Zuccotti probes the strengths and limitations of that form. Supplementing their memories with historical documentation and context, she helps turn painful memories into valuable history. Click the book cover to read more.
THE FIRST ENGLISH TRANSLATION !
The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague
by Yudl Rosenberg. Translated by Curt Leviant
May 2007. Yale
This collection of interrelated stories about a sixteenth-century Prague rabbi and the golem he created became an immediate bestseller upon its publication in 1909. So widely popular and influential was Yudl Rosenberg's book, it is no exaggeration to claim that the author transformed the centuries-old understanding of the creature of clay and single-handedly created the myth of the golem as protector of the Jewish people during times of persecution.
In addition to translating Rosenberg's classic golem story into English for the first time, Curt Leviant also offers an introduction in which he sets Rosenberg's writing in historical context and discusses the golem legend before and after Rosenberg's contributions. Generous annotations are provided for the curious reader.
The book is full of adventures, surprises, romance, suspense, mysticism, Jewish pride, and storytelling at its best. The Chief Rabbi of Prague, known as the Maharal, brings the golem Yossele to life to help the Jews fight false accusations of ritual murder-the infamous blood libel. More human, more capable, and more reliable as a protector than any golem imagined before, Rosenberg's Golem irrevocably changed one of the most widely influential icons of Jewish folklore. Click the book cover to read more.
CITY OF ORANGES
AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF ARABS AND JEWS IN JAFFA
BY ADAM LEBOR
May 2007. Norton
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. As any student of the Middle East can attest, there's almost no way to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with objectivity; virtually every word about it comes weighted with ideology or political mission. But English journalist LeBor (the Times of London) has achieved the near-impossible. While ostensibly telling the story of one town, he sketches the tale of Israel's birth and concomitant Palestinian nakba (catastrophe), with the knotted lives of Jaffa's Arab and Jewish residents serving as a humanizing lens. Though not a rigorous academic study, this history encompasses both the familiar (nonstop wars) and the lesser-known (Syria's 1949 peace overtures). Dotted with delightful period details, it gives individual opinion free rein, reporting contradictions without judgment. The history of both peoples is marked by trauma and courage, and neither side has really managed to listen to the other-because, LeBor notes, "any recognition of each other's losses is a kind of surrender in the endless battle for memory as well as territory." He quietly condemns the worst excesses of both sides-Israeli occupation, Palestinian corruption, Israeli racism, Palestinian suicide terrorism-and comes down on the side of compromise. Some readers will noisily object, but those looking for a well-rounded and truly human insight into the conflict will enjoy this account.
I especially enjoyed the review in The New York Times by Gershom Gorenberg:
"... LeBor writes Jaffa's past as a sprawling family saga. At its center are a half-dozen or so clans, Jewish and Arab, whose lives intertwine from the 19th century till today, as the Mediterranean port flowers and then is torn apart by conflict... The Gedays, a Christian Arab family in Jaffa for generations, are one thread in the chronicle. Unlike other wealthy Arabs, Fakhri's father, Youssef, refused to sell land to the Jews who poured into British-ruled Palestine. Unlike his neighbors, he also rejected panic and flight when Menachem Begin's right-wing Irgun underground overran Jaffa in April and May 1948... in the 1950s, the Israeli government expropriated [his] family's land for the new Jewish town of Bat Yam. It didn't help that Youssef Geday shouted in court that "Abu-Khaled" - as the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser was nicknamed - would come and give him back his holdings. Fakhri shared his father's faith in Nasser.
That's one side of the Jaffa story. Another is that of the Chelouche clan, among the first Jews in modern Jaffa, who arrived from Algeria in 1838. For LeBor, the Arabic-speaking Chelouches embody a lost era when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together, did business and attended one another's weddings. That era ended in 1921, when tension between Arab nationalists and Zionists erupted into riots in Jaffa. By then, the Chelouches had helped found Tel Aviv. The riots sparked an exodus by many of Jaffa's Jews to the new city. After 1948, a Chelouche was briefly the military governor of Jaffa. The town was annexed to Tel Aviv and settled by Jewish immigrants. Exiled Jaffa Palestinians like the Hammami family - who reached Beirut, then scattered across the globe - polished memories of their lost home. One member of that clan, Said Hammami, was the P.L.O. ambassador to London in 1973, when he published a pioneering article calling for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel. For that heresy, he was murdered - by a gunman sent by Abu Nidal.
"City of Oranges" is an engaging, well-constructed book, even if its characters are more colorful than complex. But LeBor shows chutzpah in claiming that his is the first account "focused primarily on the human story" in the Israeli-Arab conflict. His own sources include Tom Segev's more penetrating and poetic "One Palestine, Complete." And Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre's classic chronicle of the 1948 war, "O Jerusalem!," is superbly woven out of the personal stories of those who fought...
...LeBor's actual innovation is viewing the conflict from Jaffa rather than Jerusalem. Jaffa and its sister, Tel Aviv, are secular cities, devoted to commerce, more enamored of beaches and nightlife than of sanctity. They do not awe visitors, but many a Westerner feels more at home in them. The shift from Jerusalem to Jaffa is also political. Collins and Lapierre portrayed Arabs sympathetically, but Jerusalem lent itself to a pro-Israeli narrative: The city symbolized Jews' ancient connection to the country; the siege of Jewish Jerusalem stood for Israel's success against Arab force; and ethnic cleansing swept Jews as well as Arabs from their homes.
LeBor, in turn, describes Jews sympathetically, but Jaffa suits his pro-Palestinian telling: In his account, ancient Arab Jaffa accepted Middle Eastern Jews. But modern Zionism imposed the "colony" of Tel Aviv, an out-of-place European city whose residents eventually conquered Jaffa, displaced most of its Palestinians and constrained the rest to minority status. This story of the colonial Jew and displaced Palestinian fits current fashion - particularly in Britain, where this book first appeared - and is no less fragmentary than the other. ...LeBor describes Jaffa's past as "idyllic." His vision of the future includes the "de-Zionization" of Israel, intermarriage between Jews and Palestinians, and a fading of nationalism. It's a picture of a comfortable, gentrified Middle East. But it underestimates how deeply both Jews and Palestinians experience nationality as intrinsic to identity. The Palestinian diplomat Said Hammami, murdered by his fellow Jaffa exile, was more realistic, and more daring.
Click the book cover to read more.
A memoir BY DON RICKLES
May 2007. Simon & Schuster
From Publishers Weekly: Insult comic Rickles has written a feel-good memoir that's loaded with photos and sentiment. The only son of loving parents, today he's an 80-year-old grandfather who still performs nationwide. The most interesting bits-his climb to the top-are told only in broad strokes. The tone is friendly and conversational, however, as he describes, among other things, his style: "I found a distinct sense of sarcasm and humorous exaggeration." Rickles wanted to be a serious actor, but he started as a comic in strip clubs and worked his way up. His break came when Sinatra heard him-and he used Sinatra's influence to get him better gigs. Yet for a guy famous for calling others a "hockey puck," Rickles's story is Hollywood lite. There's no backstage drama, no sex, no gossip. When he name-drops celebrities, it's always in glowing terms. We learn of his short-lived TV shows, CPO Sharkey and The Don Rickles Show, and how voicing Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story jump-started his later career. Those looking for a sardonic autobiography will be disappointed; Rickles accentuates the positive. If he has a bad word to say about anyone, he'll probably save it for his act. Click the book cover to read more.
NIXON AND KISSINGER:
PARTNERS IN POWER
BY ROBERT DALLEK
May 2007. Harper Collins
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Bestselling author Dallek (An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy) delivers what will quickly become recognized as a classic of modern history: the definitive analysis of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger's complex, often troubled partnership in running American foreign policy from January 1969 through August 1974. Dallek has had unprecedented access to major new resources, including transcriptions (20,000 pages) of Kissinger's telephone conversations as secretary of state, unreleased audio files of key Nixon telephone conversations and Oval Office discussions, and previously unexamined documents from the archives of Nixon, Kissinger (who served first as national security adviser, then as secretary of state) and White House hands Alexander Haig and H.R. Haldeman. Dallek's eloquent portrait of power depicts two men who were remarkably alike in important ways. Both harbored ravenous personal ambitions. Both suffered from (and operated out of) profound insecurities and low self-esteem. Both were deeply resentful (to the point of paranoia) of criticisms and challenges. Digging deep into the various archives, Dallek artfully fills in the back stories behind such debacles as the pair's policies in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Middle East, as well as such triumphs as the opening to China. In what many will consider the book's darkest moment, Dallek reveals for the first time the discussions and strategic thinking that led to the U.S.-orchestrated coup d'état against Chile's democratically elected president Salvador Allende in September of 1973. As he did with his Kennedy biography, Dallek finds important new material that will revise our thinking about a president and the man the author terms "a kind of co-president." Click the book cover to read more.
by Efraim Karsh
MAY 2007. Yale
From the first Arab-Islamic Empire of the mid-seventh century to the Ottomans, the last great Muslim empire, the story of the Middle East has been the story of the rise and fall of universal empires and, no less important, of imperialist dreams. So argues Efraim Karsh in this highly provocative book. Rejecting the conventional Western interpretation of Middle Eastern history as an offshoot of global power politics, Karsh contends that the region's experience is the culmination of long-existing indigenous trends, passions, and patterns of behavior, and that foremost among these is Islam's millenarian imperial tradition. The author explores the history of Islam's imperialism and the persistence of the Ottoman imperialist dream that outlasted World War I to haunt Islamic and Middle Eastern politics to the present day. September 11 can be seen as simply the latest expression of this dream, and such attacks have little to do with U.S. international behavior or policy in the Middle East, says Karsh. The House of Islam's war for world mastery is traditional, indeed venerable, and it is a quest that is far from over. Click the book cover to read more.
Eat Not This Flesh
Food Avoidances from Prehistory to the Present
by Frederick J. Simoons
1994. University of Wisconsin Press
A bold attempt to reconstruct the origin and spread of food avoidances while challenging Western explanations. Click the book cover to read more.
How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to Be
Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution
By Naftali Bendavid
Bendavid provides a riveting account of how Congressman Rahm Emanuel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, delivered a "thumpin'" to Bush with a 30-seat Democratic victory in the House after twelve years of a Republican majority. Emanuel is described as "a killer, a ruthless closer like Karl Rove or Lee Atwater
In 2005, no one believed victory was within the Democrats' grasp. But as the months passed, Republicans were caught in wave after wave of scandal, support for the war in Iraq steadily declined, and the president's poll numbers plummeted. And in Emanuel, the Democrats finally had a killer, a ruthless closer like Karl Rove or Lee Atwater, poised to seize the advantage and deliver what President Bush would call "a thumpin.'" Taking its cues from classic political page-turners like Showdown at Gucci Gulch and documentaries like The War Room, The Thumpin' takes us inside the key races and the national strategy-making that moved the Democrats from forecasted gains of three seats in 2005 to a sweeping gain of thirty seats when the votes were finally counted. Through this masterful account of Rahm's rout, Bendavid shows how the lessons the Democrats learned in 2006-to fight for every vote, to abandon litmus tests, and to take no prisoners-will be crucial to the party's future electoral success, and shape the political course the nation will take in the twenty-first century.
Click the book cover to read more.
The Colors of Jews
Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism
by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz
May 2007. Indiana University Press paperback edition
Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz exposes and challenges the common assumptions about whom and what Jews are, by presenting in their own voices, Jews of color from the Iberian Peninsula, Asia, Africa, and India. Drawing from her earlier work on Jews and whiteness, Kaye/Kantrowitz delves into the largely uncharted territory of Jews of color and argues that Jews are an increasingly multiracial people--a fact that, if acknowledged and embraced, could foster cross-race solidarity to help combat racism. This engaging and eye-opening book examines the historical and contemporary views on Jews and whiteness as well as the complexities of African/Jewish relations, the racial mix and disparate voices of the Jewish community, contemporary Jewish anti-racist and multicultural models, and the diasporic state of Jewish life in the United States.. Click the book cover to read more.
Weimar on the Pacific
German Exile Culture in Los Angeles and the Crisis of Modernism
(Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism)
by Ehrhard Bahr
May 2007. UC Press
In the 1930s and 40s, Los Angeles became an unlikely cultural sanctuary for a distinguished group of German artists and intellectuals--including Thomas Mann, Theodore W. Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Fritz Lang, and Arnold Schoenberg--who had fled Nazi Germany. During their years in exile, they would produce a substantial body of major works to address the crisis of modernism that resulted from the rise of National Socialism. Weimar Germany and its culture, with its meld of eighteenth-century German classicism and twentieth-century modernism, provided served as a touchstone for this group of diverse talents and opinions. Weimar on the Pacific is the first book to examine these artists and intellectuals as a group. Ehrhard Bahr studies selected works of Adorno, Horkheimer, Brecht, Lang, Neutra, Schindler, Döblin, Mann, and Schoenberg, weighing Los Angeles's influence on them and their impact on German modernism. Touching on such examples as film noir and Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus, Bahr shows how this community of exiles reconstituted modernism in the face of the traumatic political and historical changes they were living through. Click the book cover to read more.
Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment
by Tal Ben-Shahar
May 2007. McGraw Hill
From Publishers Weekly: Though everyone wants to be happier, how many of us can actually define what that means? In his class, "Positive Psychology," one of the most popular courses at Harvard University, Ben-Shahar teaches that happiness isn't as elusive a concept as people think, and can actually be learned; he commits the fundamentals of his course to paper in this primer on getting happy, which he defines as a combination of pleasure (short-term happiness) and meaning (long-term). Divided into three parts, "What is Happiness?", "Happiness Applied" and "Meditations on Happiness," Ben-Shahar provides insight and exercises, prodding reflection in readers ("Do you accept negative emotions as natural?" "Do you see your work as a job, a career, or a calling?") while explicating the relationships among happiness, motivation and goals. Though it sounds simple, Ben-Shahar insists on keen self-awareness and purposeful action to overcome entrenched patterns of despondency and/or disbelief. For answer-seekers, this is definitely a good start. Click the book cover to read more.
TEN DECISIONS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, 1940-1941
BY IAN KERSHAW
May 2007, Penguin
From Booklist: Kershaw is an esteemed British historian, best known for his definitive two-volume biography of Hitler. Here he examines a series of decisions that was instrumental in determining the course of World War II, including the one made by the British cabinet to refuse to make a deal with Hitler after the fall of France, Hitler's decision to invade the Soviet Union, and Stalin's choice to ignore strong evidence that a German attack was imminent. Kershaw has loaded his account with fascinating details. As he illustrates, British popular opinion generally supported compromise (or appeasement) with Hitler before Munich; even within the cabinet, there was support for an understanding with Hitler after the defeat of France. And on the eve of the German invasion, a Russian agent, code-named "the Corsican," provided clear and specific proof of the coming attack, which Stalin discounted. This is a well-done, riveting, and often surprising examination of these critical choices.
Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989
by Michael R. Beschloss
May 2007, Simon & Schuster
From Booklist: The office of the American presidency is unique among Western democracies because it combines the functions of head of state and chief executive. The president has consistently been viewed as the chief driver of national destiny, even during periods of legislative dominance. Although their power may sometimes be illusory, Beschloss, a prominent presidential historian, has found the traits of courage and wisdom to be common and essential in our most successful presidents. Using new sources and providing interesting perspectives, Beschloss examines a variety of actions and decisions taken by presidents under great stress. Although the broad outlines of these actions are familiar, he provides extensive details that are rarely offered in general texts. Some of the more interesting episodes examined here include Washington's decision to fight for ratification of the unpopular Jay's Treaty with Britain, Jackson's struggle against the rechartering of the Bank of the United States, and Truman's decision to support the establishment of the state of Israel, despite vociferous opposition from the State Department.
With regard to Truman and Israel, readers will probably be interested in reading about Truman and his wife, and the allegation that a Jew never entered the Truman household (even though Harry's biz partner was Jewish), Truman's dislike of East coast Jewish lobbyists, and his irritation at Jews who wore their pain on their sleeves and thought they had the monopoly on angst and pain.
A Crack in the Earth
A Journey up Israel's Rift Valley
by Haim Watzman
May 2007, FS&G
Quick on the heels of Watzman's memoir of serving in the Israeli Army as an American (COMPANY C), he has written this geological story about the Jordan Rift Valley which stretches from the Red Sea to Lebanon. It is in this valley that humans journeyed out of Africa. In 2004, Haim took a two-week journey up the rift valley. Along the way he met scientists who try to understand the rift through the evidence lying on its surface-an archaeologist who reconstructs the fallen altars of a long-forgotten people, a zoologist whose study of bird societies has produced a theory of why organisms cooperate, and a geologist who thinks that the valley will some day be an ocean. He encountered people whose life and work on the shores of the Dead Sea and Jordan River have led them to dream of paradise and to seek to build Gardens of Eden on earth-a booster for a chemical factory, the director of a tourist site, and an aging socialist farmer who curates a museum of idols. And he discovered that the geography's instability is mirrored in the volatility of the tales that people tell about the Sea of Galilee.... He realizes that human beings can never see the rift in isolation. "It is the stories that men and women have told to explain what they see and what they do as a result that create the rift as we see it . . . As hard as we try to comprehend the landscape itself, it is humanity that we find." Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book
THE DIARY OF MARY BERG
GROWING UP IN THE WARSAW GHETTO
BY MARY BERG
May 2007, One World - Oxford. www.marybergsdiary.com
From Booklist: The book was first published in the U.S. in 1945 as Warsaw Ghetto: A Diary,and now it is in an expanded edition. The author, a Jew, was 15 when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. From then until she arrived in the U.S. with her parents and sister in March 1944, Berg kept a diary recounting her years in the Warsaw ghetto, prison detention in Warsaw, internment in France, and the trip aboard a mercy ship contracted by the U.S. Berg recorded her eyewitness account in 12 notebooks that she smuggled out of Europe. In describing the ghetto, for instance, Berg wrote, "In the streets, frozen human corpses are an increasingly frequent sight. Many mothers often sit with children wrapped in rags from which protrude red frostbitten little feet. Sometimes a child huddles against a mother, thinking that she is asleep and trying to awaken her, while, in fact, she is dead." The richness of Berg's memories and the intensity of her experiences record for posterity a chilling account of childhood during the Holocaust Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book
JUNE 2007 BOOKS
Recommended to us by A. B. Yehoshua:
Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine
by David Shulman
June 1, 2007. The University of Chicago Press
For decades, we've been shocked by images of violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. But for all their power, those images leave us at a loss: from our vantage at home, it's hard for us to imagine the struggles of those living in the midst of the fighting. Now, American-born Israeli David Shulman takes us right into the heart of the conflict with Dark Hope, an eye-opening chronicle of his work as a member of the peace group Ta'ayush, which takes its name from the Arabic for "living together." Though Shulman never denies the complexity of the issues fueling the conflict-nor the culpability of people on both sides-he forcefully clarifies the injustices perpetrated by Israel by showing us the human dimension of the occupation. Here we meet Palestinians whose houses have been blown up by the Israeli army, shepherds whose sheep have been poisoned by settlers, farmers stripped of their land by Israel's dividing wall. We watch as whip-swinging police on horseback attack crowds of nonviolent demonstrators, as Israeli settlers shoot innocent Palestinians harvesting olives, and as families and communities become utterly destroyed by the unrelenting violence of the occupation. Opposing such injustices, Shulman and his companions-Israeli and Palestinian both-doggedly work through checkpoints to bring aid, rebuild houses, and physically block the progress of the dividing wall. As they face off against police, soldiers, and hostile Israeli settlers, anger mixes with compassion, moments of kinship alternate with confrontation, and, throughout, Shulman wrestles with his duty to fight the cruelty enabled by "that dependable and devastating human failure to feel." Watch for the film in the coming decade.
How Israel Has Coped and What America Can Learn
by Leonard A. Cole
JUNE 2007. Indiana Univ Press
This consultant tells the story of why Israel is good at combatting Terror and what Americans can learn. Click the book cover to read more.
The Impact of the Holocaust on Jewish Theology
Now in Paperback
Edited by Steven T. Katz, Boston University
JUNE 2007. New York Univerity Press
The theological problems facing those trying to respond to the Holocaust remain monumental. Both Jewish and Christian post-Auschwitz religious thought must grapple with profound questions, from how God allowed it to happen to the nature of evil. The Impact of the Holocaust on Jewish Theology brings together a distinguished international array of senior scholars--many of whose work is available here in English for the first time--to consider key topics from the meaning of divine providence to questions of redemption to the link between the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel. Together, they push our thinking further about how our belief in God has changed in the wake of the Holocaust. Contributors include Yosef Achituv, Yehoyada Amir, Ester Farbstein, Gershon Greenberg, Warren Zev Harvey, Tova Ilan, Shmuel Jakobovits, Dan Michman, David Novak, Shalom Ratzabi, Michael Rosenak, Shalom Rosenberg, Eliezer Schweid, and Joseph A. Turner. Click the book cover to read more.
Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy
Now in Paperback
Edited by Michael J. Bazyler and Roger P. Alford
JUNE 2007. New York Univerity Press
Holocaust Restitution is the first volume to present the Holocaust restitution movement directly from the viewpoints of the various parties involved in the campaigns and settlements. Now that the Holocaust restitution claims are closed, this work enjoys the benefits of hindsight to provide a definitive assessment of the movement.
From lawyers and state department officials to survivors and heads of key institutes involved in the negotiations, the volume brings together the central players in the Holocaust restitution movement, both pro and con. The volume examines the claims against European banks and against Germany and Austria relating to forced labor, insurance claims, and looted art claims. It considers their significance, their legacy, and the moral issues involved in seeking and receiving restitution. Contributors: Roland Bank, Michael Berenbaum, Lee Boyd, Thomas Buergenthal, Monica S. Dugot, Stuart E. Eizenstat, Eric Freedman and Richard Weisberg, Si Frumkin, Peter Hayes, Kai Henning, Roman Kent, Lawrence Kill and Linda Gerstel, Edward R. Korman, Otto Graf Lambsdorff, David A. Lash and Mitchell A. Kamin, Hannah Lessing and Fiorentina Azizi, Burt Neuborne, Owen C. Pell, Morris Ratner and Caryn Becker, Shimon Samuels, E. Randol Schoenberg, William Z. Slany, Howard N. Spiegler, Deborah Sturman, Robert A. Swift, Gideon Taylor, Lothar Ulsamer, Melvyn I. Weiss, Roger M. Witten, Sidney Zabludoff, and Arie Zuckerman. Click the book cover to read more.
Mordecai Richler Was Here
by Mordecai Richler
Edited by Jonathan Webb, with Aislin, and Adam Gopnik (Intro)
JUNE 2007. Carroll and Graf
With a cover illustration of a Montreal neighborhood, (the six streets west of St. Lawrence, bounded by Laurier and St. Viateur) place that shaped Richler and starred in his stories, this book features selected stories by one of Canada's greatest writers. Click the book cover to read more.
THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS
50 YEARS OF REPORTING IN WASHINGTON
ROBERT D. NOVAK
JUNE 2007. Crown
The syndicated columnist who outed Valerie Plame and loves to kick Israel tells the inside story of his career and the life of reporters and critics over the past 5 decades. Click the book cover to read more.
One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor
by Josh Wolk
JUNE 2007. Hyperion
Alredy optioned for a film by Hyperion's parent, Disney, this is the true story by EW reporter, Josh Wolk, who, three months before his wedding to gf Christine, decides to return to his boyhood camp in Maine for an 8 week Summer, and share his cabin with the wunderman camp leader who every kid worships, only to create the same self doubt that he felt as a teen. In these eight hilarious, uncomfortable, enlightening weeks, Josh readjusts to life teaching swimming and balancing on a thin metal cot in a cabin of shouting, wrestling, wet-willie-dispensing fourteen-year-olds who, contrary to the warnings of doomsaying sociologists, he finds indistinguishable from the rowdy fourteen-year-olds of his day in any way other than their haircuts. With his old camp friends gone, he finds himself working alongside guys who used to be his campers. Moments of feeling cripplingly old are offset by the corrosive insecurities of his youth when he's paired in the cabin with Mitch, the forty-two-year-old jack-of-all- extreme-sports whose machismo intimidated Josh so much fifteen years earlier, and whom their current campers idolize. And throughout all this disorienting regression, Josh's telephone conversations with his fiancée, Christine, grow increasingly intense as their often comical discussions over the wedding become a flimsy cover for her worries that he's not ready to relinquish his death-grip on the comforts of the past. A hilarious and insightful look at the tenacious power of nostalgia, the glory of childhood, and the nervous excitement of taking a leap to the next unknown stage in life, Cabin Pressure will appeal to anyone who's ever been young, wishes he was young again, but knows deep down it probably isn't a good idea. Click the book cover to read more.
Foxbats Over Dimona
The Soviets' Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War
by Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez
JUNE 28, 2007. Yale
Fearing an imminent invasion, Israel launched a preemptive air attack on Egypt in June 1967 and it achieved such staggering devastation that in just six days the war was won and the future of the Middle East was forever changed. But have our assumptions about the genesis of the Six-Day War been misguided? What was the involvement of the Soviet Union? Were the Israelis planning to use nuclear weapons? Were the Soviets?
This book provides an account that is startlingly different from all previous histories of the Six-Day War. Award-winning Israeli journalists Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez investigate newly available documents and testimonies from the former Soviet Union, cross-check them extensively against Israeli and Western sources, and arrive at fresh and frightening conclusions. Filled with astonishing new information about this crucial week in history, the book paints a disturbing picture of Cold War aggression, deception, and calculated willingness to precipitate a global crisis. Thomas R. Pickering wrote: "This fascinating new book brings to light new, original research on the origins of the 1967 War. The Soviet role appears to be larger and more intensive than many of us may have realized, including possible plans for air and seaborne attacks on the Israeli coast, and at Dimona in a serious effort to block Israel's nuclear program; major steps to induce an Israeli attack; and a hoped for overwhelming Arab riposte. That it all failed seems to have once again, after Cuba, been a bad misjudgment in Moscow. While data and facts are still coming in and skeptics may scoff, the book is a solid work worthy of serious attention." Click the book cover to read more.
An Introduction to the Beliefs and Practices of the Jews
by Michael Maher
JUNE 2007. Columba Press
A primer on Judaism for Christians, especially his students in Dublin. Maher has an MA from HUC and a PhD in Semitic Languages from University College in Dublin. Click the book cover to read more.
The Jewish King Lear Comes to America
by Jacob Gordin, Sophie Glazer, translated by Ruth Gay
JUNE 2007. Yale
The Jewish King Lear, written by the Russian-Jewish writer Jacob Gordin, was first performed on the New York stage in 1892, during the height of a massive emigration of Jews from eastern Europe to America. This book presents the original play to the English-speaking reader for the first time in its history, along with substantive essays on the play's literary and social context, Gordin's life and influence on Yiddish theater, and the anomalous position of Yiddish culture vis-à-vis the treasures of the Western literary tradition.
Gordin's play was not a literal translation of Shakespeare's play, but a modern evocation in which a Jewish merchant, rather than a king, plans to divide his fortune among his three daughters. Created to resonate with an audience of Jews making their way in America, Gordin's King Lear reflects his confidence in rational secularism and ends on a note of joyful celebration. Click the book cover to read more.
Not a Happy Camper
by Mindy Schneider
JUNE 2007. Grove Press
Remember those long sultry summer days at camp, the sun setting over the lake as you sang Kumbaya? Well, Mindy Schneider remembers her summer at Camp Kin-A-Hurra in 1974 just a wee bit differently. Not a Happy Camper chronicles a young girl's adventures at a camp where the sun never shines, the breakfast cereal dates back to the summer of 1922, and many of the counselors speak no English. For eight eye-opening and unforgettable weeks, Mindy and her eccentric band of friends - including Autumn Evening Schwartz, the daughter of hippies who communicates with the dead, and the sleep-dancing, bibliophile Betty Gilbert - keep busy feuding in color wars, failing at sports, and uncovering the camp's hidden past. As she focuses on landing the perfect boyfriend and longs for her first kiss, Mindy unexpectedly stumbles across something infinitely grander: herself. Hilarious, charming, and glowing with nostalgia, Mindy Schneider's memoir is a must-read for anyone who's ever been to summer camp, or wishes they had. Click the book cover to read more.
The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit
My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World
by Lucette Lagnado
June 2007. HarperCollins
Read her piece in the WSJ on Yom Kippur: http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110009017
A Memoir. Lucette recreates the glamour of growing up in Cairo between the World Wars, and life as a Jewish family. Her father, Leon, was a businessman who conducted business from the posh Nile Hilton. But when King Fari=ouk was deposed by Nasser and the young officers, and businesses were nationalized, Leon and his family lost their economic base. The fled to Paris and then to New York, and moved from opulence to poverty, from ease to hardship. A vivid and graceful story. Click the book cover to read more.
All Q, No A
More Tales of a 10th-Grade Social Climber
by Lauren Mechling and Laura Moser
June 2007. Graphia
Grade 9 and Up
Mimi Schulman, first introduced in The Rise and Fall of a 10th-Grade Social Climber (Houghton, 2005), is back at New York City's Baldwin School after spending a week in the Dominican Republic doing charity work with her rich and ritzy friends. She is plagued by typical teen problems: an unrequited crush, divorced parents and their new relationships, and low self-confidence. However, she's quickly repairing the friendships she strained last semester as well as meeting some new and quirky people. When she gets the chance to go after the first big story for the school newspaper, an article on Baldwin parent and art-world king Serge Ziff, who has made a major donation, she is determined to prove herself worthy of the assignment. Chasing after Ziff for an interview doesn't leave much time for her friends, though, and chasing down the elusive truth about his true character proves even more difficult. With the help of friends and their contacts, Mimi writes a revealing article-but then the angry headmaster insists on killing the story. The trials of this middle-class teen in an upper-class world are entertaining and light. The writing style is breezy, but the vocabulary is occasionally complex and may challenge low-level readers. Though there are mentions of hookups and underage drinking, the details are sparse. Instead, friendships and self-worth are the center of attention. This sequel can be read as a stand-alone, but be prepared for requests for the first book. Click the book cover to read more.
A Quest for the Lost Temple Treasures of Jerusalem
by Sean Kingsley
June 2007. HarperCollins
"God's Gold" charts the fate of the greatest religious treasure in history, the key symbols of the Jewish faith -- looted from the Temple of Jerusalem. The golden candelabrum, silver trumpets and bejewelled Table of the Divine Presence were ransacked by the Roman emperor Vespasian and his son, Titus, in AD 70. They were cast adrift in Mediterranean lands, which saw 550 years of turbulent history and the rule of four different civilisations. Now, only an intriguing trail of clues remains as to their whereabouts. The Temple treasure is an immeasurably precious hoard, but it has yet greater significance as a symbol of man's communications with God. The gold is central to Israel's dreams for messianic redemption and it's discovery could signify the return to an age of biblical sacrifice. Using untapped historical texts and new archaeological sources, Sean Kingsley reveals the incredible history of this treasure, its composition and religious, political and financial meaning across the ages. Unexpected discoveries send him on a physical pilgrimage to trace the treasure's destiny, which exposes facts more astonishing than fiction. Click the book cover to read more.
I Will Wake the Dawn
Commentary by Arnold Band (UCLA), Illustrated by Debra Band
June 2007. JPS, Jewish Publication Society
Professor Arnold Band has been at UCLA for nearly five decades.
From the acclaimed author and artist who created The Song of Songs: The Honeybee in the Garden, this breathtakingly beautiful book fuses the artist Debra Band's stunning illuminated interpretation of selected psalms with the scholar Arnold Band's insightful analysis of the text. In shimmering gold and brilliant color this book invites contemporary readers to experience the intense emotion embodied within the ancient verses. It features 36 of the most well-known and moving psalms, including songs of personal and communal joy, prayers for healing and redemption in times of desperation, expressions of love and longing for Jerusalem, and prayers of comfort traditionally included in mourning rites. Band ingeniously interprets each psalm through two illuminations on facing pages: one that brings to life the Hebrew text; the other that illustrates the JPS English translation. Each pair of full-page illuminations is followed by an analysis of the psalm by Arnold Band and an explanation of the symbolism of the artwork by Debra Band.
This beautifully bound book can be used for prayer and study, as well as aesthetic enjoyment, and, it makes an unforgettable gift for weddings, anniversaries, and other special occasions.
Included in the volume is a foreword by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner and an appendix with the text of all 150 psalms in Hebrew and in English.
Click the book cover to read more.
by Peter Charles Melman
June 2007. Counterpoint
From Booklist: Can a man expect justice from the world if he has spent his life inflicting injustice? Elias Abrams ponders this quandary while sitting in a Missouri field. Having fled New Orleans in the wake of a murder and seeking refuge in the Confederate army, Abrams begins to analyze the elements leading to his conscription: the Jewish son of an indentured servant roaming the brothels and alleys of Civil War New Orleans fueled by whiskey, gambling, and brawling. This carousing finds him the accomplice to a brutal murder and on the run from the law and his fellow carousers. Throughout the narrative, Melman crafts searing images: the physical degradation of Civil War infantrymen, the underbelly of 1860s New Orleans, burgeoning love, and one man's unplanned introspection. This novel gallops across prairies and battlefields as Elias Abrams writes letters to his Nora Bloom and struggles to make sense of his past, all while trying to carve out the future he desires. At times ribald and always real, Melman creates a rich and authentic story. Click the book cover to read more.
ON SUICIDE BOMBING
BY TALAL ASAD, CUNY professor of anthropology
June 2007. Columbia
Like many people in America and around the world, Talal Asad experienced the events of September 11, 2001, largely through the media and the emotional response of others. For many non-Muslims, "the suicide bomber" quickly became the icon of "an Islamic culture of death"-a conceptual leap that struck Asad as problematic. Is there a "religiously-motivated terrorism?" If so, how does it differ from other cruelties? What makes its motivation "religious?" Where does it stand in relation to other forms of collective violence? Drawing on his extensive scholarship in the study of secular and religious traditions as well as his understanding of social, political, and anthropological theory and research, Asad questions Western assumptions regarding death and killing. He scrutinizes the idea of a "clash of civilizations" and its identification of "Islamic jihadism" as the essence of modern terrorism. He critically engages with a range of explanations of suicide terrorism, exploring many writers' preoccupation with the motives of perpetrators and the attempt to understand the act in relation to politics. In conclusion, Asad examines our emotional response to suicide and the horror it invokes. On Suicide Bombing is an original and provocative analysis critiquing the work of intellectuals from both the left and the right. Though fighting evil is an old concept, it has found new and disturbing expressions in our contemporary "war on terror." For Asad, it is critical that we remain aware of the forces shaping the discourse surrounding this new mode of violence. Click the book cover to read more.
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