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SOME SPRING 2008 BOOK READINGS
Apr 01, 2008: Aaron David Miller reads from THE MUCH TOO PROMISED LAND. B&N UWS NYC 7PM
Apr 02, 2008: Steve COLL reads from the BIN LADENS. B&N LINC CTR NYC 7PM
Apr 03, 2008: ELISA ALBERT reads from THE BOOK OF DAHLIA. B&N Tribeca NYC 7PM
Apr 03, 2008: Joed Coffin reads at the aaww.org, NYC
Apr 08, 2008: JENNIFER WEINER reads from CERTAIN GIRLS. B&N LINC CTR NYC 7PM
Apr 14, 2008: DAVID HOCHMAN reads from THE POTTY TRAIN. B&N Santa Monica 10AM
Apr 14, 2008: CYNTHIA OZICK reads from DICTATION. B&N UWS NYC 7PM
Apr 21, 2008: GERALDINE BROOKS reads from PEOPLE OF THE BOOK. B&N Minnetonka MN 7PM
Apr 23-25, 2008: Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, UCLA, Los Angeles
Apr 30, 2008: Arthur Schwartz reads from JEWISH HOME COOKING. B&N Park Slope 730 PM
May 06, 2008: MICHAEL CHABON reads from YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S.... B&N Union Sq NYC 7PM
May 09, 2008: AARON COHEN reads from BROTHERHOOD OF WARRIORS. B&N Farmers Mkt Los Angeles 7PM
May 18, 2008: Jews and Power. A Festival of Ideas. Nextbook.Org The Times Center, NYC $20 featuring Avivah Zornberg, Leon Botstein, Stephen Greenblatt, Paul Berman, Aaron David Miller, Dagmar Herzog, Stuart Klawans, Shalom Auslander, Rebecca Goldtsein, Sara Ivry, Cynthia Ozick, Ruth Wisse, and more. 11Am - 5 PM
May 18, 2008: Rabbi Phillip Lieberman, PhD speaks at the Everett Institute on the Judeo Muslim Connection. 92nd St Y, NYC 92y.org
June 03, 2008: Lisa Loeb performs from her CD, Camp Lisa. BN, Tribeca NYC 2PM
June 04, 2008: Nathan Englander reads at BN, Tribeca NYC 7PM
June 11, 2008: Tania Grossinger reads from Growing Up at Grossinger's at BN, Greenwich Village NYC 730PM
June 16, 2008: Nam Le reads at BN, UWS 82nd NYC 7PM
August 13, 2008: Daniel Mendelsohn reads at BN, Lincoln Center NYC 7PM
HEY.. NOW YOUR CAN SEARCH OUR SITE, INSTEAD OF JUST SEARCHING AMAZON. TRY IT OUT...
If you wantto contibute to help the people of Myanmar / Burma, please visit the Joint Distribution Committee or American Jewish World Service, at jdc.org and ajws.org Thanks
BY JENNIFER WEINER
April 2008. Atria
From Publishers Weekly: "...Weiner turns in a hilarious sequel to her 2001 bestselling first novel, Good in Bed, revisiting the memorable and feisty Candace Cannie Shapiro. Flashing forward 13 years, the novel follows Cannie as she navigates the adolescent rebellion of her about-to-be bat mitzvahed daughter, Joy, and juggles her writing career; her relationship with her physician husband, Peter Krushelevansky; her ongoing weight struggles; and the occasional impasse with Joy's biological father, Bruce Guberman. Joy, whose premature birth resulted in her wearing hearing aids, has her own amusing take on her mother's overinvolvement in her life as the novel, with some contrivance, alternates perspectives. As her bat mitzvah approaches, Joy tries to make contact with her long absent maternal grandfather and seeks more time with Bruce. In addition, unbeknownst to Joy, Peter has expressed a desire to have a baby with Cannie, which means looking for a surrogate mother. Throughout, Weiner offers her signature snappy observations: (good looks function as a get-out-of-everything-free card) and spot-on insights into human nature, with a few twists thrown in for good measure. She expends some energy getting readers up to speed on Good, but readers already involved with Cannie will enjoy this, despite Joy's equally strong voice..."
As preparations for Joy's bat mitzvah begin, everything seems right in Cannie's world. Then Joy discovers the novel Cannie wrote years before and suddenly finds herself faced with what she thinks is the truth about her own conception -- the story her mother hid from her all her life. When Peter surprises his wife by saying he wants to have a baby, the family is forced to reconsider its history, its future, and what it means to be truly happy. Radiantly funny and disarmingly tender, with Weiner's whip-smart dialogue and sharp observations of modern life, Certain Girls is an unforgettable story about love, loss, and the enduring bonds of family. Click the book cover to read more.
THIS WILL BE A BLOCKBUSTING REVISIONIST READ
A History of the First Arab-Israeli War
by Benny Morris
April 2008. Yale
This history of the foundational war in the Arab-Israeli conflict is groundbreaking, objective, and deeply revisionist. A riveting account of the military engagements, it also focuses on the war's political dimensions. Benny Morris probes the motives and aims of the protagonists on the basis of newly opened Israeli and Western documentation. The Arab side-where the archives are still closed-is illuminated with the help of intelligence and diplomatic materials. Morris stresses the jihadi character of the two-stage Arab assault on the Jewish community in Palestine. Throughout, he examines the dialectic between the war's military and political developments and highlights the military impetus in the creation of the refugee problem, which was a by-product of the disintegration of Palestinian Arab society. The book thoroughly investigates the role of the Great Powers-Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union-in shaping the conflict and its tentative termination in 1949. Morris looks both at high politics and general staff decision-making processes and at the nitty-gritty of combat in the successive battles that resulted in the emergence of the State of Israel and the humiliation of the Arab world, a humiliation that underlies the continued Arab antagonism toward Israel.
Glenn Frankel, reviewing this book in the Washington Post, wrote, "...Each side's narrative is self-contained and in total conflict with the other. In the Israeli version, Holocaust survivors redeemed their ancestral homeland against extraordinary odds by defeating bloodthirsty Palestinian terrorists and five Arab armies, while thousands of Arab civilians abandoned their homes under the directive of leaders who promised glory and spoils upon their return. The Arab counter-narrative depicts Palestinians as hapless victims of a vastly superior Jewish army, backed by the United States and Britain, waging a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing according to a plan laid out before the first shot was fired. Both accounts contain elements of truth. Neither one was constructed for the sake of veracity, however. Each was useful in mobilizing members of a particular tribe to sustain the conflict: Israelis in their beleaguered fortress-state; Palestinians in their refugee camps, some still fondling the keys to their lost homes. The narratives have nurtured their separate identities -- and their enduring grievances. Benny Morris, born in 1948 on a kibbutz, is a charter member of a generation of Israeli historians who have challenged his country's founding narrative and deepened our understanding of the roots of the conflict. A former Jerusalem Post correspondent with a doctorate from Cambridge University, he first came to prominence with his 1988 book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, a ground-breaking, revisionist account of how Israeli forces uprooted and expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during Israel's independence war. His new book is an ambitious, detailed and engaging portrait of the war itself -- from its origins to its unresolved aftermath -- that further shatters myths on both sides of the Israeli-Arab divide. ...
... Morris splits the war into two distinct phases. The first was a civil war between Jewish and Palestinian militias that began in November 1947, when the United Nations General Assembly approved the partition of British-run Palestine into two countries, one dominated by Jews, the other by Palestinian Arabs. Despite early setbacks, the main Jewish military force, known as the Haganah, rolled up major victories and forced much of the Arab population to flee. The key moment, according to Morris, came in early April when the Haganah took the offensive and seized as much land as possible before the planned British military departure. "Palestinian Arab society fell apart and was crushed by a relatively poorly armed and, in many ways, ragtag Jewish militia," Morris writes.
... The second phase was the Pan-Arab invasion by the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq (Lebanon stayed largely on the sidelines) after Israel's declaration of independence on May 14, 1948. The Israelis won that struggle as well, expanding the territory of the new Jewish state well beyond the original partition lines and expelling hundreds of thousands more Palestinians in the process. .."
...Along the way, Morris seeks to separate fact from legend. It's true, Morris notes, that the Arab states had a combined population of 40 million, while the Jewish community, known in Hebrew as the Yishuv, numbered a mere 650,000. But the Yishuv, led by the indomitable David Ben-Gurion, "had organized for war. The Arabs hadn't." Arab Palestine, lacking a great leader or unifying principle, amounted to a series of disparate towns, villages and clans rather than a coherent nation, and it succumbed readily to a spirit of powerlessness and fatalism. As for the war that followed, the combined Arab militaries were far stronger than the Haganah, Morris argues, if not in manpower then certainly in equipment and firepower. But Israeli forces had some "home court advantages" over the four invading armies, such as a unified command, internal lines of communication, familiarity with the terrain and a commitment to protect their homes and families. By the end of the war, they outnumbered the Arab soldiers almost 2 to 1 and produced smashing victories on virtually every front...
... Morris is remarkably even-handed when he sifts through the evidence of atrocities. During the civil-war phase, he says, neither side paid much heed to the possible injury or death of civilians, and both sides executed prisoners. In the more conventional fighting that followed, the killing of civilians and prisoners of war mostly stopped -- except for a series of atrocities committed by Israeli troops in the Palestinian town of Lydda in central Israel and in the Galilee. "In truth," writes Morris, "the Jews committed far more atrocities than the Arabs and killed far more civilians and POWs in deliberate acts of brutality in the course of 1948."
Morris doesn't attribute this to any greater morality on the Arab side but rather to the fact that the victorious Israelis captured some 400 Arab villages and towns, while the Arabs overran fewer than a dozen Jewish settlements. By his tally, Palestinians slaughtered some 190 Israelis in two large-scale massacres, while Israeli troops probably murdered some 800 Arab civilians and prisoners of war. But in comparison to modern slaughterhouses like Bosnia or the Congo, the atrocities were relatively limited. The 1948 war "is actually noteworthy for the relatively small number of civilian casualties," Morris concludes.
As for the 700,000 Palestinian refugees, he rejects the claims of other revisionist historians -- most notably Ilan Pappe in his 2006 book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine-- that the expulsions were part of Plan D, drawn up by Zionist leaders and military officers in Tel Aviv in March 1948 and carried out with relentless precision. Morris contends that the plan called for the destruction only of villages that resisted conquest, not those that were quiescent. "Nowhere does the document speak of a policy or desire to expel 'the Arab inhabitants' of Palestine," he writes, adding that "nowhere is any brigade instructed to clear out 'the Arabs.' "
Why is all of this worth re-adjudicating six decades after the event? Because none of it has been resolved. For Israelis, 1948 is central to the legitimacy of the Jewish state. For Palestinians, it is an open wound; if the refugees were unfairly expelled, then they should be allowed to return. One weakness of Morris's book is that he can offer little documentation of the Arab side. Most of the archives of countries like Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria remain off-limits. Too often Morris ends up speculating about the perceptions and motives of Arab leaders because he lacks the documentation that enriches his treatment of the Israeli side.
Click the book cover to read more.
The Hebrew Republic
How Secular Democracy and Global Enterprise Will Bring Israel Peace At Last
by Bernard Avishai
April 2008. Harcourt
Political economist Bernard Avishai has been writing and thinking about Israel since moving there to volunteer during the 1967 War. now he synthesizes his years of study and searching into a short, urgent polemic that posits that the country must become a more complete democracy if it has any chance for a peaceful future. He explores the connection between Israel's democratic crisis and the problems besetting the nation-the expansion of settlements, the alienation of Israeli Arabs, and the exploding ultraorthodox population. He also makes an intriguing case for Israel's new global enterprises to change the country's future for the better. With every year, peace in Israel seems to recede further into the distance, while Israeli arts and businesses advance. This contradiction cannot endure much longer. But in cutting through the inflammatory arguments of partisans on all sides, Avishai offers something even more enticing than pragmatic solutions-he offers hope.
Click the book cover to read more.
How an American Woman Found Her Way Through Politics, Love, and Obedience in the Middle East
by Deborah Kanafani
2008. Free Press
In the early 1980s, Deborah Jacobs (not Jewish) was an ordinary Lebanese American college student from Long Island, New York. By the end of the decade, she would bear witness to the making of international history. Her story begins in graduate school: through a series of chance encounters, young Deborah was introduced to Marwan Kanafani, a dashing former soccer star turned high-ranking Palestinian diplomat who was working at the United Nations. A political dynamo with movie-star charm, Marwan swept Deborah off her feet and into a marriage that kept her in the company of diplomats, dignitaries, world leaders, international glamour and intrigue. Although exciting, this lifestyle also isolated Deborah increasingly from her independent, American way of living, creating a rift that would end their marriage. Marwan's profile was on the rise, and with it came a number of crucial connections for Deborah: while his involvement with the PLO intensified, eventually resulting in his appointment as senior advisor and spokesperson for Yasir Arafat, she formed friendships with such women as Suha Arafat, Queen Dina of Jordan, and other women married to Arab leaders. After her divorce, when these women agreed to tell their stories of struggle and survival for a book, Deborah traveled to the Middle East to record them, planning to join her children, who were on the West Bank visiting their father. To her shock and horror, he refused to return the children to her. Deborah stayed in the Middle East for several years to be near her children, finding strength in the women whose lives she documented and whose incredible stories are told in this book. She was eventually able to arrange the return of her children when they were evacuated to another country during a Palestinian uprising. The story of her journey, intertwined with those of the wives of the Arab leaders, takes the reader into an otherwise inaccessible and cloistered world populated by larger-than-life characters living out all-too-human dramas. Culture, politics, and family collide in this gripping front-row perspective of the Middle East conflict and of the courageous women working behind the scenes for peace and challenging the patriarchal traditions of their homeland. Click the book cover to read more.
Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking
Yiddish Recipes Revisited
by Arthur Schwartz with Ben Fink (Photographer)
From Publishers Weekly: Schwartz (Arthur Schwartz' New York City Food) breathes life into Yiddish cooking traditions now missing from most cities' main streets as well as many Jewish tables. His colorful stories are so distinctive and charming that even someone who has never heard Schwartz's radio show or seen him on TV will feel his warm personality and love for food radiating from the page. Oddly, even the shorter anecdotes often run longer than the actual recipes; anyone intending to cook from the book should have some kitchen experience or risk frustration at the often brief instructions. Dishes run the gamut from beloved appetizers like gefilte fish to classic meat and dairy main items (cholent, blintzes), plus less familiar items like onion cookies and Hungarian shlishkas (light potato dumplings). Schwartz intersperses engaging commentary on everything from farfel and matzo to Romanian steakhouses and why Jews like Chinese food. Those with Westernized palates may recoil at the thought of gelled calf's feet, but Schwartz shows how stereotypically heavy Ashkenazi food can be improved and made at least somewhat lighter when prepared properly. Cooks and readers from Schwartz's generation and earlier, who know firsthand what he's talking about, will appreciate this delightful new book for the world it evokes as much as for the recipes.
The fact that the author is the foodmaven.com comes across clearly, since he adds so much rich information on Jewish food history with each recipe. It is a pleasure to read. And then there are the photos. As he writes in the intro, food is a connection to the Jewish past and our faith. Sure, more Jews eat pizza than chopped liver, more eat sushi and salad nicoise than chopped herring and gefilte fish, but those classic foods are in our Jungian collective unconscious. And now for the recipes.
Appetizers (Forshpeiz) include recipes for arbes, chopped eggs and onions, chopped herring salad, schmaltz, black radish (ritach, as in ritach mit tzibeleh), vegetarian chopped liver (2 recipes), romanian eggplant salad, 2nd Avenue Deli's health salad/slaw, pitcha, chrain, and gefilte fish (mit carrots).
Some SOUPS are Chicken w/ knaidlach, kreplach, mushroom barley (did u know that mushrooms were free and plentiful in the woods of Lithuania), borscht (3 kinds), and Schav. Some SIDES include three, count 'em, 3 kugels, latkes, shlishkas, kishkas, dermas, tzimmes, and cabbage and noodles (u know.. that mouse in rataouille should have made cabbage and noodles for the critic) (hint... salt the cabbage first)
Some MEATS are cholent, flanken, brisket, stuffed cabbage, potted meatballs, (a history of romanian steakhouses; an essay on why Jews like chinese), karnatzlach (little sausage), salami and eggs, chow mein, and pepper steak. Not to mix meat and milk in the same paragraph, but some DAIRY recipes included are: Ratner's brown gravy, blintzes, lox fliegles, pickled lox; lox,eggs & onions; and whitefish salad.
There is a whole chapter for passover dishes, including an apple cake and matzo buttercrunch and ingberlach (matzo farfal ginger candy). Speaking of Passover, some BREAD recipes include one for tzibeleh kuchen. Did you know that Jewish corn bread is actually a sourdough ryte? DESSERT recipes include rugelach (kipfel), babka, and hamantaschen.
Click the book cover to read more.
THIS IS SO FUNNY IT IS SAD
Shut Up, I'm Talking
And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government
by Gregory Levey
April 2008. FREE PRESS
Gregory Levey, currently a teacher at Ryerson University and frequent contributor to SALON, THE NEW REPUBLIC, NY POST, GLOBE AND MAIL, was a law student in New York when he applied for an internship at the Israeli Consulate. He was 25, and ended up getting much more than he expected. When he started the internship, he was asked to fill in for a speechwriter who had quit. He started to write speeches for the Israeli delegation to the United Nations. Soon enough, he was also attended UN sessions and drafting statements. Then he was flown to Jerusalem so that he could write speeches for Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister. The book recounts the comical and bizarre experiences he had in Israel and New York City. One time he was Israel's only rep in the U.N. and had no idea how "his" country wanted him to vote; another time, using high school French, he mistranslated a statement that an Arab delegation had made. The consequences were not pretty. He was offered leftover salami from Ariel Sharon's lunch, and also got to peripherally work with Israeli intelligence after a suicide bombing. Levey creates a funny and frightening portrait of current diplomacy, and concludes that the Israeli Government is no place for a nice Jewish boy.
Ummm... don't expect him to be the keynote speaker at any UJA fundraising tours.
Click the book cover to read more.
Brotherhood of Warriors
Behind Enemy Lines with a Commando in One of the World's Most Elite Counterterrorism Units
by Aaron Cohen with Douglas Century
April 2008. Ecco
When he was 18, Cohen left his teenage life in Beverly Hills and traveled to Israel. He trained for over a year abd was allowed to join Israel's Sayeret Duvdevan, the "black ops" group, the hit and run secret undercover team. And what was his job? He was part of a unit that enters Palestinian towns and kidnaps people to be brought back to Israel for trial. He participated in over 200 missions. According to Cohen, from 1997 to 2000, he studied Arabic and Hebrew, and became a specialist in counter terrorism. In one case, he reports on how he posed as an American journalist, attended a wedding, and seuzed the father of the bride, a Hamas leader. Cohen, who now runs IMS Security in LA, one of the protection companies filled with ex Israeli commandos, has teamed up with Douglas Century, a top non fiction crime writer, to tell us the inside scoop. Click the book cover to read more.
The Bin Ladens
An Arabian Family in the American Century
by Steve Coll
April 2008. Penguin
This stunningly researched and grippingly told new book is the kind of history that naturally gives rise to such large thoughts. Tim Rutten, writing in the Los Angeles Times, writes: "...Life, as Kierkegaard pointed out, can only be understood retrospectively, but we must live it prospectively....Steve Coll's stunningly researched and grippingly told new book...is the kind of history that naturally gives rise to such large thoughts. In essence, it proposes not so much an alternate history of the 20th century but an account of one that occurred simultaneous to our usual collective recollection of the last 100 years. ... "The Bin Ladens" now joins Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" and Mary Habeck's too-often overlooked "Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror" as the books that ought to be read by anyone who really wants to understand the origins of the current crisis.
Coll's book is important because -- the title notwithstanding -- it's really a history of two families, the Bin Laden and Al-Saud, whose patriarch Abdulaziz Ibn Saud "walked out of Kuwait in 1902 with a sword, some camels and a small band of followers to reclaim, in his family's name, the mud-walled town of Riyadh in the central Arabian plateau, and the paltry realm it oversaw." Thirty blood-soaked years later, he "announced at last the formation of the new Kingdom of Saudi Arabia." A few years after Abdulaziz stormed out of Kuwait, an impoverished, one-eyed teenage boy named Mohammed Bin Laden walked north out of his native Yemen to the Arabian port city of Jeddah in search of work. Eventually, he would found a construction and trading company that would become Saudi Arabia's largest, with holdings that, today, extend around the globe -- including the United States.
.... There are hundreds of Bin Ladens -- survivors from among Mohammed's more than 50 children and their descendents -- and Coll's book gives ample attention to the most infamous of the patriarch's progeny, Osama....
..a couple of very important facts about Al Qaeda's co-founder are nailed down conclusively. One has to do with precisely when and how he became radicalized. Coll reports that it occurred while he was attending an elite high school in Jeddah and came under the profound influence of an Egyptian instructor, who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Osama apparently joined the brotherhood as a teenager. Given the way he ultimately turned on the Sauds, it's ironic that the teacher was one of a large number of Egyptian and Syrian exiles to whom the Saudi royal family had given shelter... Osama bin Laden was predisposed to accept such influence, a shy and deeply religious boy who moved somewhat on the fringes of his family because his mother -- whom his father quickly divorced -- was herself a Syrian, whose family may have had ties to that country's heterodox Alawite sect. (Osama was but one of seven sons born to Mohammed and his various wives in one year.) The very orthodox Bin Ladens looked down on Alawites, just as the Sauds -- natives of the geneology-obsessed Nejaz region -- always have looked down on the Bin Ladens, as Yemenites.
....The aura of great wealth was one of the many myths the very public relations-conscious Osama carefully cultivated. (Some of the best estimates of Bin Laden family finances actually come from court files in the United States, where several family members wound up in divorce proceedings.) What's most striking about Coll's book is its undidactic but unflinching account of just how rancidly dysfunctional the Saudi royals' governance has been and of how the Bin Ladens -- canny, but in so many essential ways incompetent -- have benefited from their patrons' venality through a breathtakingly supine sycophancy and simply bribery. Corrupt, hypocritical, frightened and inept at everything but self-preservation, the Sauds have essentially looted their country's foreign-developed oil riches, using the Bin Ladens to dole out development only when it was absolutely necessary to placate a restive populace.
...Finally, Coll's book makes an important contribution to the contemporary debate by putting to rest the myth that Jihadism is fueled by a passion to see justice for the Palestinians. In fact, garden-variety anti-Semitism of the most repellant kind has been part of the Saud/Bin Laden axis from the start. Abdulaziz was a rabid anti-Semite, though he'd never met a Jew nor heard of Zionism. Faisel, apparently the best of the Saudi kings because he stole the least, nonetheless peddled every sort of outlandish anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, along with copies of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Today, the son of one of Osama's half-brothers runs a group called the World Assembly of Muslim Youth out of Falls Church, Va. He has a Saudi diplomatic passport and the special mission of reaching out to American Muslims with Wahabi religious materials, including one that says: "The Jews are enemies of the faithful, God and the angels; the Jews are humanity's enemies; they foment immorality in this world."
Click the book cover to read more.
by Jay Neugeboren
April 2008. Two Dollar Radio
From Publishers Weekly: Neugeboren's (The Stolen Jew) first novel in 20 years presents a fictional account of an obscure historical figure in this intelligent, densely layered novel. Dr. Eduard Bloch, an Austrian doctor who achieved notoriety for being Adolf Hitler's childhood physician, accepts favors granted to no other Jew and finds himself at the beginning of WWII living out his twilight years in the Bronx. Inspired by a visit from the striking Elisabeth Rofman, an inquisitive medical illustrator, Dr. Bloch decides to write his recollections of the Hitler family. He soon finds himself in the middle of a spat between Elisabeth and her pompous ex-husband over the proposed castration of Daniel, their institutionalized mentally ill son. In the midst of this dispute, Elisabeth's father disappears, and Daniel arrives at Dr. Bloch's apartment, seeking shelter. Through Dr. Bloch's diary entries, he charts the inevitable convergence of his romance with an increasingly unhinged Elisabeth, the unstable yearnings of Daniel and his own surreal remembrances of the teenage Hitler. Neugeboren's characters are nuanced and complex, especially the strong-willed Elisabeth. There are no shocking revelations, but the great characters and the author's thoughtful examination of good and evil pack a cerebral punch. Click the book cover to read more.
Israel, Hezbollah, and the War in Lebanon
by Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
April 2008. Palgrave
This is the first comprehensive account of the progression of the Second Lebanese War, from the border abduction of an Israeli soldier on the morning of July 12, 2006, through the hasty decision for an aggressive response; the fateful discussions in the Cabinet and the senior Israeli command; to the heavy fighting in south Lebanon and the raging diplomatic battles in Paris, Washington and New York. The book answers the following questions: has Israel learned the right lessons from this failed military confrontation? What can Western countries learn from the IDF's failure against a fundamentalist Islamic terror organization? And what role did Iran and Syria play in this affair? 34 Days delivers the first blow-by-blow account of the Lebanon war and new insights for the future of the region and its effects on the West. Click the book cover to read more.
It's Not All About Money
Memoirs of a Private Banker
by Hans J. Baer
April 2008. Beaufort
In his memoir, Hans J. Baer reveals the drive and emotions behind one of the most distinguished careers in swiss banking in the twentieth century. During his almost sixty-year career as manager of the Julius Baer Group, he helped develop it into one of the largest independent wealth managers in Switzerland. When scandal involving the dormant accounts of Jews murdered in the Third Reich rocked the staid and secretive swiss banking community, Baer brought his leadership and negotiation skills to the table, ultimately helping to form the Volcker Commission. It's Not All About Money is the extraordinary story of a high-finance insider. As the title suggests, more than even his prominent career, his devotion to music, art, and philanthropy have been central to Baer's life. He relates his interactions with the Shah of Iran, his friendship with Carnegie Hall savior Isaac Stern, and other luminaries of art and science. Baer shares his intriguing story with humor and humility.
Baer acknowledges that his awareness of the problems associated with dormant Swiss accounts came late in the process. Central to his memoir is his painful realization that smug Swiss bankers were focused more on banking secrecy than doing the right thing for Jewish victims. Click the book cover to read more.
Never Give In
Battling Cancer in the Senate
by U.S. Senator Arlen Specter with Frank J. Scaturro
2008. Thomas Dunne
This is not simply the memoir of a cancer survivor. Nor is it just the memoir of a respected senator. This is an unprecedented glimpse into a man who is both. It is inspiration for people of all political persuasions; of how to persevere and succeed---despite what the doctors may say, despite what the tests might show.
In early 2004, Senator Specter was in the midst of a grueling primary race, facing significant opposition from the right as he worked to win his party's nomination to run for reelection for his Pennsylvania senate seat. It would be the most difficult election in his quarter-century career in the Senate. Following on its heels were two more challenges---the general-election race and opposition to his elevation as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, his lifelong ambition. He overcame all three challenges in time for his seventy-fifth birthday. But exhaustion and fatigue---initially thought to be the aftereffects of months of vigorous campaigning---were found to be far more serious. After a series of tests and consultation with several doctors, Specter was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, Stage IVB, the most advanced stage. He had received death sentences before and lived to tell about it. To Senator Specter, this diagnosis was another challenge. After all, he still had a job to do.
His cancer treatments came as he reached the height of his power---surrounded by political storms that polarized Washington and threatened to shut the Senate down. His leadership positions made it his job to manage Supreme Court nominations and public- health appropriations as he faced his own illness. He had fought on public-health issues for years, but now it added potency to the message that the messenger was ailing himself. Click the book cover to read more.
To be honest... I never heard of Tony Judt. He sure is filled with a lot of contempt.
Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century
by Tony Judt, NYU
April 2008. Beaufort
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Historian and political commentator Judt warns against the temptation to look back upon the twentieth century as an age of political extremes, of tragic mistakes and wrongheaded choices; an age of delusion from which we have now, thankfully, emerged. In this collection of 24 previously printed essays (nearly all from the New York Review of Books and the New Republic), Judt, whose recent book Postwar was a Pulitzer finalist, pleads with readers to remember that the past never completely disappears and that the coming century is as fraught with dangers as the last. Buttressing his argument, Judt draws upon an impressively broad array of subjects. He begins by describing the eclipse of intellectuals as a public force (for instance, the steep decline in Arthur Koestler's reputation) before reminding his audience of the immense power of ideas by discussing the now inexplicable attractions of Marxism in the 20th century. In the book's penultimate section, Judt examines the rise of the state in the politics and economics of Western nations before finally tackling the United States, its foreign policy and the fate of liberalism. As a fascinating exploration of the world we have recently lost-for good or bad, or both-this collection, despite its lack of new content, cannot be bested.. Click the book cover to read more.
THE HITLER SALUTE
ON THE MEANING OF A GESTURE
THE HISTORY OF A GESTURE
BY TILMAN ALLERT
Spring 2008. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt
Sometimes the smallest detail reveals the most about a culture. In Heil Hitler: The History of a Gesture, sociologist Tilman Allert uses the Nazi transformation of the most mundane human interaction-the greeting-to show how National Socialism brought about the submission and conformity of a whole society. Made compulsory in 1933, the Hitler salute developed into a daily reflex in a matter of mere months, and quickly became the norm in schools, at work, among friends, and even at home. Adults denounced neighbors who refused to raise their arms, and children were given tiny Hitler dolls with movable right arms so they could practice the pernicious salute. The constantly reiterated declaration of loyalty at once controlled public transactions and fractured personal relationships. And always, the greeting sacralized Hitler, investing him and his regime with a divine aura. The first examination of a phenomenon whose significance has long been underestimated, Heil Hitler offers new insight into how the Third Reich's rituals of consent paved the way for the wholesale erosion of social morality.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. In this brief, insightful book, German sociologist Allert writes penetratingly about the gesture familiar around the world. Working like a preservationist on a minute canvas, he shows readers the cascade of meanings that rush through everyday greetings in general. But Allert's keen eye is trained on Germany, and he provides a wonderful depiction of regional, class and gender-specific greetings, from the kissed hand to the low, scraping bow. All of these were supplanted by the Hitler salute. Hitler was the suprahuman being in whom Germans invested their hopes, which they reaffirmed every time they raised their arms and shouted the Führer's name. As the salute penetrated every sphere of social life, it made Nazism omnipresent and Germans a unified community. It also affirmed authority for the ruler as well as over the ruled. Allert draws fruitfully on memoirs and letters. Readers encounter Germans who joyfully raised their arms to the Führer and also those who went to any length to avoid the gesture and sometimes paid dearly for their opposition to the Nazis. Allert's book shows how much can be gained from a close study of the daily rituals we barely think about yet are packed with meaning.
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By the mid 1930's, "Heil Hitler" was the official, expected, even demanded greeting of choice in Germany. Even the washroom attendants greeted people with it and some churches replaced Gruss Gott with the new deity: Hitler. Gone were the Ei Ei Dufe Wie, Gruss Gott, Servus, Moin Moin, and Guten Tag. Heil Hitler was the replacement. It was a simple, daily-repeated gesture of communication, an offer-acceptance and response between people which book-ended interpersonal communications. Everyday, with each interaction, Hitler was explicitly reinforced and social conformity occurred. It included the nation, advertised one's social affiliation, bonded the people, and excluded all the recalcitrant, obstructionist, non-believers and set them up for terror and punishment. For 12 years, all communications became politicized. In this book, the author explores the history of the gesture and words and investigates its power as an unconditional pledge that united the nation. (He also includes a few Heil Hitler jokes that were told in Germany). I found it to be a creative analysis on the power of a simple but frightening gesture. What I found enlightening is the Wehrmacht's early rejection of the salute, since it had its own military salutes, loyalties, and traditions. Not until the Summer of 1944, after some Wehrmacht officers tried to assassinate Hitler, did the Wehrmacht accept the Hitler salute.
LIFE AND DEATH IN THE THIRD REICH
BY PETER FRITZSCHE, University of Illinois
Spring 2008. Harvard
From Publishers Weekly
University of Illinois historian Fritz (Germans into Nazis) effectively takes up one of the key controversies surrounding the Third Reich: to what extent were the German people accomplices of the regime? Over the years, the answers have ranged widely. Daniel Goldhagen's argument that the annihilation of the Jews was what the German people had always wanted has never persuaded specialists. Others have argued that the German people were either manipulated and deceived by, or converted to, Nazism. Fritzsche provides a more nuanced argument that the Nazis were quite successful in winning the people's support, but it took time and effort. He cites diaries showing that individuals had to examine how they could become reconciled, or converted, to National Socialism. The fabled Volksgemeinschaft-people's community-was not mere propaganda but had a powerful allure that drew Germans into the Nazi orbit. Fritzsche mines diaries and letters written by the famous and well-placed as well as the unknown, to show that the prospects of German grandeur and unity resonated deeply with many people, even when it meant a hugely destructive war and the genocide of the Jews. Fritzsche offers a significant interpretation of Nazism and the German people, and writes with a vibrancy that is not often found in studies of the Third Reich. Click the book cover to read more.
A memoir by a novelist with a degree in counseling psychology and a taste for salted cold noodles. So she is able to be extremely introspective and thoughful:
A MEMOIR OF PROMISCUITY
By Kerry Cohen (Hoffman)
April 2008. Hyperion
Oy. What would her Jewish grandmother say...
From Publishers Weekly: Despite the rather prurient title, Cohen's memoir is a deeply poignant, desperately sad account of a confused, directionless adolescent girl's free fall into self-abnegation. Growing up affluent in New Jersey in the 1980s and smarting from the recent breakup of her parents, 11-year-old Cohen begins to recognize the power her nubile body has over men. Being wanted becomes her greatest hope; once she and her older sister, Tyler, begin living with her father when her mother decides to attend med school in the Philippines, she latches onto other girls with whom she treks into New York City to bar hop at places like Dorian's Red Hand and pick up older, eager boys. Stunningly, the father is not alarmed by her early-morning absences, but seems to encourage her popularity, buying her clothes and treating her as a grownup. Gradually, hooking up with boys becomes a need, a way to bolster her faltering sense of self-worth. A litany of dreary sex acts follows with young men she doesn't particularly like and who don't like her, regardless of STD scares and a college rape. The painter mother of one of her boyfriends does initiate her into more intellectual pursuits, awakening a redemptive desire to become a writer. Cohen's memoir of a lost childhood is commendably honest and frequently excruciating to read. Click the book cover to read more.
Note: Remember that Jennifer Levine was murdered after meeting Robert Chambers at Dorian's Red Hand.
THE STORY OF YIDDISH
HOW A MISH-MOSH OF LANGUAGES SAVED THE JEWS
BY NEAL KARLEN
April 2008, MORROW
Yiddish is as unlikely a survivor of the ages as the Jews themselves--unlikelier, actually, considering how many Jews have also tried to kill the oft-considered "gutter" language. That Yiddish is a mirror of Jewish history, thought, and practice--for better and worse--underlies Neal Karlen's narrative, as he charts Yiddish from its beginnings as a minor dialect in the 11th century France and Italy, to the time before World War II when 13 million spoke the language; and on to unlikely resuscitation and electrifying 21st century Renaissance. THE STORY OF YIDDISH will be told chronologically. Scholars usually date Yiddish from the 11th century, when modern linguists believed the language began as a German dialect spoken by newly arrived Jewish immigrants from France and Northern Italy living along the Rhine. Over time, it became an actual language incorporating elements of Hebrew, Aramaic, and the Slavic and Romance languages. As the story proceeds through the centuries, Karlen highlights the intertwining fates of Judaism and Yiddish. The language would reach literary heights in the 19th century and 20th centuries. Yet in the middle of the 20th century, while the language and culture was at its zenith, Yiddish faced two of its gravest enemies--the genocidal Nazis and the early, proud Zionists who founded Israel in the wake of the Holocaust and decided that with a new Jewish homeland, there would also have to new kind of Jew, speaking a different kind of language. It wasn't until roughly a decade ago that a new generation has begun to work zealously to recapture Yiddish before it disappears. Click the book cover to read more.
By Harry Bernstein
April 2008, Ballantine
From the author of THE INVISIBLE WALL. Growing up Jewish in England nearly 90 years ago, ... in this remembrance, the family moves to pre-Depression Chicago. Bernstein revels in 1920's America as a teen, and then the Depression hits. Bernstein is forced to move to New York, eke out a living, and meet the woman of his dreams, who he stays married to for 67 years. Click the book cover to read more.
GOD IN THE WILDERNESS
Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi
by Rabbi Jamie Korngold
April 2008, Doubleday Three Leaves Press
Rabbi Korngold is a Reform Jewish rabbi who started the Adventure Rabbi program in 2001 and has become nationally known for her pioneering work integrating spirituality and the outdoors. A grad of HUC, she lives in Boulder, Colorado. She proclaims, "When our biblical ancestors wanted to reach God, they did not go to a church or synagogue. Rather they climbed a mountain, sought out streams, or sat beneath a majestic palm..." Rabbi Jamie Korngold has always loved the outdoors, the place where humankind first met with God. Whether it's mountaineering, running ultramarathons, or just sitting by a stream, she finds her spirituality and Judaism thrive most in the wilderness. In her work as the Adventure Rabbi, leading groups toward spiritual fulfillment in the outdoors, Korngold has uncovered the rich traditions and lessons God taught our ancestors in the wild. In God in the Wilderness Korngold uses rabbinic wisdom and witty insights to guide readers through the Bible, showing people of all faiths that, despite the hectic pace of life today, it is vital for us to reclaim these lessons, awaken our inner spirituality, and find meaning, tranquillity, and purpose in our lives.
PW writes: Starred Review. Rabbi Korngold revels in nature, and she seeks to share that joy as founder of the Adventure Rabbi program to help people reconnect to Judaism via the great outdoors. She has also discovered a way-call it a language, a spirit, an essence-with which to express the simplicity of a back-to-basics spirituality. Balancing an in-depth knowledge of scripture with a wry sense of humor and a compassion for nature, Korngold reminds us of the nooks and crannies of the natural world and says that we must seek them out, soak them in and care for them. The variety of personal stories, tales of travel with various Adventure Rabbi groups and contemporary alternative biblical outcomes-what if Moses had been too busy texting to notice the burning bush?-make for a book that is easily digestible but at the same time worth savoring. Purposely sized to fit easily into a backpack or pocket, the call to return to the wild-or at least your local city park-is ever present. While certainly aimed at adventuresome readers, the book's message, filled with depictions of fire, water, earth and sky, simultaneously encourages individual exploration and communal responsibility.
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The Power of God for Christians and Jews
by Kevin J. Madigan (Author), Jon D. Levenson
April 2008, Yale
This book, written for religious and nonreligious people alike in clear and accessible language, explores a teaching central to both Jewish and Christian traditions: the teaching that at the end of time God will cause the dead to live again. Although this expectation, known as the resurrection of the dead, is widely understood to have been a part of Christianity from its beginnings nearly two thousand years ago, many people are surprised to learn that the Jews believed in resurrection long before the emergence of Christianity. In this sensitively written and historically accurate book, religious scholars Kevin J. Madigan and Jon D. Levenson aim to clarify confusion and dispel misconceptions about Judaism, Jesus, and Christian origins. Madigan and Levenson tell the fascinating but little-known story of the origins of the belief in resurrection, investigating why some Christians and some Jews opposed the idea in ancient times while others believed it was essential to their faith. The authors also discuss how the two religious traditions relate their respective practices in the here and now to the new life they believe will follow resurrection. Making the rich insights of contemporary scholars of antiquity available to a wide readership, Madigan and Levenson offer a new understanding of Jewish-Christian relations and of the profound connections that tie the faiths together. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book
How I Learned Geography
by Uri Shulevitz
April 2008, FSG
Ages 4 - 8.
Having fled from war in their troubled homeland, a boy and his family are living in poverty in a strange country. Food is scarce, so when the boy's father brings home a map instead of bread for supper, at first the boy is furious. But when the map is hung on the wall, it floods their cheerless room with color. As the boy studies its every detail, he is transported to exotic places without ever leaving the room, and he eventually comes to realize that the map feeds him in a way that bread never could. The award-winning artist's most personal work to date is based on his childhood memories of World War II and features stunning illustrations that celebrate the power of imagination. An author's note includes a brief description of his family's experience, two of his early drawings, and the only surviving photograph of himself from that time. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book
JEWISH CHOICES, JEWISH VOICES:
EDITED BY Rabbi ELLIOT N. DORFF AND LOUIS E. NEWMAN
April 2008, Jewish Publication Society
What are our obligations and rights to our own bodies? What does Judaism say about tattoos? Piercings? About our obligations to exercise and eat properly? What about smoking? Alcohol? Recreational drugs? Who owns our organs? What about our eggs and sperm? If resources are limited, whose body comes first and how do we decide? Why do so many young Jews suffer from eating disorders? This new JPS ethics series deals with some of the most critical moral issues of our time. Is my weight anybody's business but my own? Can a tattoo express my Jewish identity? How risky is bungee jumping, anyway? Jews of different ages and life experiences reflect on these and other ethical dilemmas in this cutting-edge new series from JPS. Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices. This volume, Body, offers a range of traditional and contemporary sources on Jewish attitudes toward the body. Listen as rabbis, doctors, athletes, artists, and others weigh in on how Judaism influences their own choices. Intended to promote dialogue, challenge assumptions, and reflect the reality of Jewish life today, Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices is for anyone who struggles to lead an ethical life and wonders about the range of informed Jewish responses to controversial questions. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book
JEWISH CHOICES, JEWISH VOICES:
EDITED BY Rabbi ELLIOT N. DORFF AND LOUIS E. NEWMAN
April 2008, Jewish Publication Society
Is it O.K. to be wealthy? How do we know when we have too much? Enough? Is wealth relative--are those born into wealth entitled to accumulate more money than those born in poorer circumstances? What are we obligated to do with our money? How much are we supposed to give to charity? Can Jewish charitable institutions accept money that may be "tainted"? How big a role should income play in our identity, in our life plan, in our pursuit of happiness?
Do I have enough? Do I give enough? Can I work for a morally questionable employer? Can I pay my nanny under the table? What's so bad about a little credit card debt?
Jews of different ages and life experiences reflect on these and other ethical dilemmas in this cutting-edge new series from JPS, Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices. This volume, Money, offers a range of traditional and contemporary sources on Jewish attitudes toward money. And rabbis, philanthropists, scholars, and social justice activists weigh in on how Judaism influences their own choices. Intended to promote dialogue, challenge assumptions, and reflect the reality of Jewish life today, Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices is for anyone who wants to lead an ethical life and wonders about the range of informed Jewish responses to controversial questions.
Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book
MY MISERABLE, LONELY, LESBIAN PREGNANCY
BY ANDREA ASKOWITZ
April 2008, Cleis
In this memoir of her 40 weeks and five days in hell, Andrea Askowitz takes an unflinching look at her pregnant life from struggling with hormones to poor body image to a self imposed exile from family to take us on a ride through the turbulence of single lesbian motherhood. Along the way we meet her liberal parents as they struggle with their daughter's choices, the lover she longs to reconnect with who goes M.I.A. before the pregnancy, the friends who turn out to be no help at all and strangers who offer up some unlikely kindness. Andrea presents herself real, raw, impossibly cranky yet deeply touching with her self-deprecating dark sense of humor that will make you wince or better yet send you into uncontrollable fits of laughter.
Check out her chapter on choosing sperm and her logic (?) and not selecting the sperm of a full-Jewish man. She only wants half-Jews. There were 20 to choose from at her sperm bank. Click the book cover for more reviews or to purchase the book
The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg
by Geoff Herbach
April 2008, Three Rivers
A inheritance check arrives from a long lost father.
Having destroyed his life, the suicidal T. Rimberg (a skittish half Jew) strikes out on a journey through history and geography. From Minneapolis to Europe to a fiery accident near Green Bay, he searches for a father (a Holocaust survivor) who is likely dead, digs for meaning where he's sure there is none, fires off suicide letters to family, celebrities, presidents, and football stars, and lands in a hospital bed across from a priest who believes that Rimberg has caused a miracle. This funny, moving novel asks us to consider the nature of second chances and the unexpected form that grace sometimes takes. Click the book cover to read more.
by Marek Halter. Translated by Lauren Yoder
April 2008, Toby
Halter returns with a remarkable tale, based on truth, of the little-known crusade by a 16th Century Jew to marshal support for a Jewish state, 4 centuries before the creation of modern-day Israel. It was in 1524. David Reubeni was an actual prince for a Jewish kingdom. He travels to Venice to make a Jewish pact with the Christians to take back Jerusalem from the Ottomans. In this book, the Pope (Clement 7) approves the plan, and Reubeni gets 12,000 men to fight the Turks. But like flies to honey, or is that bears to honey, he attracts crazy messianic people and con men, some who think he is the messiah. Marek Halter was born in Poland in 1936. During World War II, he and his parents narrowly escaped from the Warsaw ghetto. After a time in Russia and Uzbekistan, they emigrated to France in 1950. He is the author of Messiah, The Wind of the Khazars, Sarah, Tzipporah, Lilah and the Book of Abraham, which won the Prix du Livre International. Click the book cover to read more.
The Discovery of Mankind
Atlantic Encounters in the Age of Columbus
by David Abulafia
April 2008, Yale
The first landings in the Atlantic World generated striking and terrifying impressions of unknown peoples who were entirely foreign to anything in European explorers' experience. From the first recorded encounters with the native inhabitants of the Canary Islands in 1341 to Columbus's explorations in 1492 and Cabral's discovery of Brazil in 1500, western Europeans struggled to make sense of the existence of the peoples they met. Were they Adam's children, of a common lineage with the peoples of the Old World, or were they a separate creation, the monstrous races of medieval legend? Should they govern themselves? Did they have the right to be free? Did they know God? Could they know God? Emphasizing contact between peoples rather than the discovery of lands, and using archaeological findings as well as eyewitness accounts, David Abulafia explores the social lives of the New World inhabitants, the motivations and tensions of the first transactions with Europeans, and the swift transmutation of wonder to vicious exploitation. Lucid, readable, and scrupulously researched, this is a work of humane engagement with a period in which a tragically violent standard was set for European conquest across the world. Click the book cover to read more.
The Zoo on the Road to Nablus
A Story of Survival from the West Bank
by Amelia Thomas
April 2008, Public Affairs
From Publishers Weekly" This engaging and deftly told book shines a light on a lesser-known victim of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Palestine's last zoo, located in battle-ravaged Qalqilya, surrounded by Israel. British journalist Thomas recounts a year and a half in the life of the zoo, following zoo veterinarian Dr. Sami Khader's dogged-often futile-attempts to transform a neglected menagerie into an institution of international caliber. An enormously sympathetic portrait emerges of Khader's travails-his grief over the deaths of beloved animals and his struggles to secure funding from a distracted government. Thomas crafts richly detailed depictions of the zoo, and her animal anecdotes are prefaced with meticulous-often tedious-histories of their origins (the introduction to the lion touches upon Charlemagne, Cicero and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair). Despite the lengthy historical asides, this book is a unique and fascinating account of one man's persistence and his fierce dedication to his animal friends. Click the book cover to read more.
Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq
by Patrick Cockburn
April 2008, Scribner
In this compellingly readable account, prize-winning journalist Patrick Cockburn tells the story of Muqtada's rise to become the leader of Iraq's poor Shi'ites and the resistance to the occupation. Cockburn looks at the killings by Saddam's executioners and hit men of the young cleric's father, two brothers, and father-in-law; his leadership of the seventy-thousand-strong Mehdi Army; the fierce rivalries between him and other Shia religious leaders; his complex relationship with the Iraqi government; and his frequent confrontations with the American military, including battles that took place in Najaf in 2004. The portrait that emerges is of a complex man and a sophisticated politician, who engages with religious and nationalist aspirations in a manner unlike any other Iraqi leader. Click the book cover to read more.
BY RACHEL SONTAG
Spring 2008, Ecco
From Publishers Weekly: Sontag, a doctor's daughter, grew up in a family that seemed every bit the normal, suburban ideal. She and her sister were raised to value book smarts as well as worldly experience. What those outside of the family didn't know was that the reason Sontag was so accomplished and committed to her extracurricular activities was that she would've done anything to get away from her father, Stephen. By enforcing a peculiar system of rules and consequences, he micromanaged every moment of her life, tape-recording her conversations, measuring the length of her fingernails and locking all the phones in a safe when he left the house. When Sontag broke the rules, regardless of circumstance, he would verbally abuse her for hours, dictating letters of apology from her to him (I am a selfish, rotten, worthless brat, etc.). Sontag's mother, Ellen, reneged on plans to divorce him for years, perhaps partly because Stephen prescribed her into complacency with lithium. In adulthood, Sontag found herself caught in self-defeating patterns that smacked of her father's thrall. Struggling to break free, she even resorted to homelessness before finally severing her relationship with Stephen. Sontag's is a brave account, not only of what it's like to take the brunt of an abusive parent's wrath, but of what it means to have the courage to leave. Click the book cover to read more.
MACKEREL AT MIDNIGHT
Growing up Jewish on a Remote Scottish Island
By Ethel G. Hofman
Ethel Hofman's Mackerel at Midnight: Growing Up Jewish on a Remote Scottish Island is a collection of remarkable stories about the meeting of two diverse cultures in a unique landscape. Fleeing Russia a century ago, the author's family finds safe haven in Lerwick, Shetland, where they open "Greenvald's," the shop on Commercial Street. Her father, Harry, embraced by the locals, soon turns the shop into the beloved gathering place for "a good yarn and a dram of whisky." This is also the story of Jean, the wife Harry brings to Lerwick through a marriage broker. Though an ocean away from other Jews, Jean Greenwald, "Our Ma," vows to rear her children with deep pride in their heritage and religion. Despite the hardships, good food always brings solace, and recipes for the Jewish and island dishes she prepares weave through the narrative. Both memoir and cookbook, Mackerel at Midnight brings the reader back to gentler times that exemplify how food can instill a lasting identity, and people of different religions and cultures can live together in peace. Click the book cover to read more.
Jewish Women are susceptible to many Genetic diseases, some of them fatal. What happens if you get tested for the possibility of a disease? How would you react? Should you preempt the disease?
Also in this book is a story of Hassidic matchmaking and genetic testing
From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene
by Masha Gessen
April 2008, Harcourt
In 2004 genetic testing revealed that Masha Gessen had a mutation that predisposed her to ovarian and breast cancer. The discovery initiated Gessen into a club of sorts: the small (but exponentially expanding) group of people in possession of a new and different way of knowing themselves through what is inscribed in the strands of their DNA. As she wrestled with a wrenching personal decision-what to do with such knowledge-Gessen explored the landscape of this brave new world, speaking with others like her and with experts including medical researchers, historians, and religious thinkers. Blood Matters is a much-needed field guide to this unfamiliar and unsettling territory. It explores the way genetic information is shaping the decisions we make, not only about our physical and emotional health but about whom we marry, the children we bear, even the personality traits we long to have. And it helps us come to terms with the radical transformation that genetic information is engineering in our most basic sense of who we are and what we might become.
From Publishers Weekly: This energetic but unfocused account awkwardly merges several strands: the author's experience with the threat of breast cancer, discussions of genetic inheritance in Jewish families and a look at how the ability to test for genetic predispositions to various diseases is changing lives. With a family history of breast cancer, journalist Gessen (Dead Again: The Russian Intelligentsia After Communism) was not surprised to learn she had inherited a deleterious mutation in the BRCA1 gene, one of two genes known to be linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The BRCA1 mutation was first discovered in Jewish women, a compact population with a higher-than-average breast cancer rate. Gessen describes her narrow options, with nondirective counseling steering her toward prophylactic removal of her breasts and ovaries. Then she jumps the track to talk about Dr. Henry Lynch, who, in 1966, first suggested that predisposition to cancer might be hereditary. Gessen also covers Huntington's disease, maple syrup disease among Old Order Mennonites, eugenics and how a genetic testing program is affecting marital choices for some Orthodox Jews. Gessen covers a fair amount of ground, but in a haphazard fashion. The book's strongest parts are on genetics and heredity in the Jewish community. Click the book cover to read more.
Have You No Shame?
And Other Regrettable Stories
by Rachel Shukert
April 2008, Villard
Growing up in white-bread Omaha, Nebraska, Rachel Shukert was one of thirty-seven students (circa 1990) in Nebraska's only Jewish elementary school. She spent her days dreaming of a fantasy Aryan boyfriend named Chris McPresbyterian, a tall blond god whose family spoke softly in public and did not inquire after his bowel movements. She spent her nights frantically plastering her bedroom with pictures of intimidating co-religionists such as Henry Kissinger and Bette Midler, hoping to repel the Gestapo officers she was certain were lurking behind the drywall.
Even back then, Rachel knew she was destined for greatness. After winning the Omaha Metropolitan Area Theater Arts Guild Award for Best Youth Actress-and imagining herself as the biggest talent to come out of Nebraska since Montgomery Clift-Rachel finally arrives in Manhattan. Intent on making her mark in the glittering world of Show Biz, she isthwarted at every turn by episodes of anorexia, verbally abusive sock puppets, and a certain terrorist attack you may have heard of. She nevertheless soldiers on, as her people have done from time immemorial. In this hilarious, mordant, and moving memoir, Rachel Shukert tackles topics as diverse and weighty as life, death, love, Jewish paranoia, and errant feminine hygiene products with a fresh and irresistible mixture of humor, brains, and candor, proving that having no shame can sometimes be a very good thing indeed. Click the book cover to read more.
Reflections of a Wine Merchant
by Neal I. Rosenthal
April 2008, FS&G
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. The 2008 vintage qualities remain undetermined, but with this title by New York City wine importer Rosenthal, the still-young year yields one of the outstanding wine books of recent memory. From long experience, the author writes that wine should be first understood as an expression of soil through fermented grape juice and begins his memoir of a tradesman's life with a short manifesto on that expressive quality called terroir. Then, Rosenthal takes us on an autobiography of his life as a wine merchant, starting with the opening of his Manhattan shop in 1978, from early misadventures and small-scale successes to the ferreting of significant discoveries far off the paths habitually beaten through France and Italy in particular. His and his wife, Kerry, had a knack for finding the hitherto unknown, and he narrates these discoveries with physical and social details that bring moments to vivid, sensory life. The period he chronicles was one of enormous developments in wine, from California through globalization, and he writes intelligently of the problems that came with progress. Yet neither the trade nor this title is romantic: Rosenthal makes clear the hard, often unpleasant work of winemaking and its trade and the setbacks that are part of the process. Through his business, he has had and been responsible for countless wine-related experiences of exceptional quality; he has now provided a literary one. Click the book cover to read more.
Life Lessons from the Mothers of America's Best and Brightest
by Stephanie Hirsch
April 2008, Morrow
Where did Beyoncé get her groove? Where did Lance Armstrong get his drive? Where did Steven Spielberg get his creative vision? Every success story begins with . . . Mom. When Stephanie Hirsch gave birth to her son, she began to think about the kind of person she'd like him to be: generous, family oriented, loving, courageous, and professionally accomplished-maybe he'd turn out like Steven Spielberg! But what, she wondered, had Spielberg's mother done so well? What started out as one conversation with Steven Spielberg's mom became a quest to interview the mothers of some of the most talented artists, brilliant journalists, and dedicated athletes of our time. Mother Nurture is an inspiring collection of fifty-two stories filled with commonsense advice and memorable personal tales from caring mothers whose children have reached the apex of their fields, from sports, politics, and music to literature, entertainment, and business. If you're expecting, or a parent, or you just want to thank the woman who raised you, Mother Nurture is both the perfect antidote to piles of contradictory parenting advice and a celebration of the gift of motherhood. Includes mothers of Beyonce, Spielberg, Matt Lauer, Timberlake, Andre Balazs, Michael Bolton, Sasha Cohen, Barbara Corcoran, David Kirsch, Mehmet Oz, Brett Ratner, Jeff Zucker, and more. Click the book cover to read more.
THE WISE HEART
A guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology
By Jack Kornfield
April 2008, Bantam
A new tour de force book from America's top Jew-Bu
You have within you unlimited capacities for love, for joy, for communion with life, and for unshakable freedom-and here is how to awaken them. In The Wise Heart, one of the leading spiritual teachers of our time offers the most accessible and illuminating guide to Buddhism's transformational psychology ever published in the West. Trained as a monk in Thailand, Burma, and India, Jack Kornfield experienced at first hand the life-changing power of Buddhist teachings: the emphasis on the nobility and sacredness of the human spirit, the fine-grained analysis of emotion and thought, the precise techniques for healing, training, and transforming the mind and heart. In contrast to the medical orientation of most Western psychology and psychiatry, here is a vision of radiant human dignity, and a practical path for realizing it in our own lives. The Wise Heart is the fruit of a life's work that includes such classics as A Path with Heart and After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. Filled with stories from Kornfield's Buddhist psychotherapy practice and portraits of remarkable teachers, it also includes a moving account of his own recovery from a violence-filled childhood. For meditators and mental health professionals, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, The Wise Heart offers an extraordinary journey from the roots of consciousness to the highest expression of human possibility. Click the book cover to read more.
SOME OTHER POINTS OF VIEW FROM THE PLUTO PRESS
The Palestine-Israel Conflict
A Basic Introduction, Second Edition
by Gregory Harms and Todd M. Ferry
2008, Pluto Press
The Palestine-Israel conflict is the most notorious and ingrained conflict of the twentieth century. Yet the way it is reported in the media is often confusing, leading many to assume the hostilities stretch back to an ancient period. This is the first book to provide a clear, accessible, and annotated introduction that covers the full 2,000-year history of the region, from biblical times until today. Perfect for the general reader, as well as students, it offers a comprehensive yet lucid rendering of the conflict, setting it in its proper historical context. Harms and Ferry show how today's violence is very much a product of recent history, with its roots in the twentieth century.
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An Israeli in Palestine
Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel
by Jeff Halper
2008, Pluto Press
Jeff Halper is an Israeli who lives and works in Palestine. This book throws a critical light on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from an Israeli point of view. Israel's pioneers created a vibrant society, culture and economy. Yet the idea of an ethnically-pure "Jewish State" is no longer viable. Only 72 per cent of Israelis are Jewish, and this proportion is dwindling. To enforce its ethnic exclusivity, Israel adopts policies of occupation and discrimination against Palestinian citizens. Halper puts forward a passionate argument for a new Israel that finds its identity not through ethnicity, but through new ideological and legal frameworks that respect all human rights, and that fundamentally realign Israel's position within the Middle East. Halper explains why a two-state solution will never solve issues such as human rights, refugees, security, access to water and economic development. Instead he develops a positive vision for a new state where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side. Click the book cover to read more.
Married to Another Man
Israel's Dilemma in Palestine
by Ghada Karmi
2007, Pluto Press
Two rabbis,visiting Palestine in 1897,observed that the land was like a bride,"beautiful,but married to another man". By which they meant that, if a place was to be found for Israel in Palestein,where would the people of Palestine go? This is a dilemma that Israel has never been able to resolve. No conflict today is more dangerous than that between Israel and the Palestinians. The implications it has for regional and global security cannot be overstated. The peace process as we know it is dead and no solution is in sight. Nor, as this book argues, will that change until everyone involved in finding a solution accepts the real causes of conflict, and its consequences on the ground. Leading writer Ghada Karmi explains in fascinating detail the difficulties Israel's existence created for the Arab world and why the search for a solution has been so elusive. Ultimately,she argues that the conflict will end only once the needs of both Arabs and Israelis are accommodated equally. Her startling conclusions overturn conventional thinking-but they are hard to refute.
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Israel and the Clash of Civilisations
Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East
by Jonathan Cook
2008, Pluto Press
Journalist Jonathan Cook explores Israel's key role in persuading the Bush administration to invade Iraq, as part of a plan to remake the Middle East, and their joint determination to isolate Iran and prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons that might rival Israel's own. This concise and clearly argued book makes the case that Israel's desire to be the sole regional power in the Middle East neatly chimes with Bush's objectives in the "war on terror". Examining a host of related issues, from the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to the role of Big Oil and the demonization of the Arab world, Cook argues that the current chaos in the Middle East is the objective of the Bush administration---a policy that is equally beneficial to Israel. Click the book cover to read more.
A Jewish Guide to Leadership and Repairing the World
by Rabbi Avraham Weiss with Alan M. Deshowitz (Foreword)
April 2008, Jewish Lights
In this age of perpetual strife and conflict, we need now more than ever to find out how to be proactive in repairing our broken world. Rabbi Avraham Weiss's provocative and challenging guidebook will show you just that--and so much more.
With easy-to-follow steps, accessible explanations of the principles of spiritual activism and an exploration into the foundations of spiritual activism as rooted in the Torah, Weiss offers more than simply a user manual--he provides an in-depth approach to changing your role in the world.
Topics include: Why, How and When Do We Engage in Spiritual Activism?; Choosing the Cause; Making Partners; Designing the Strategy; Leading Other People;
Seeing the Big Picture; And more.... Click the book cover to read more.
The Jewish Readers Who Love To Shop
Bringing Home the Birkin
My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag
by Michael Tonello
April 2008, Morrow
An insider's hilarious, whirlwind account of his years spent globe-trotting in search of the holy grail of handbags: the Birkin. For more than twenty years, the Hermès Birkin bag has been the iconic symbol of fashion, luxury, and wealth. Though the bag is often seen dangling from the arms of celebrities, there is a fabled waiting list of more than two years to buy one from Hermès, and the average fashionista has a better chance of climbing Mount Everest in Prada pumps than of possessing one of these coveted carryalls. Unless, of course, she happens to know Michael Tonello. Michael's newfound career started with an impulsive move to Barcelona, a vanished job assignment, no work visa, and an Hermès scarf sold on eBay to generate some quick cash. But soon the resourceful Michael discovered the truth about the waiting list and figured out the secret to getting Hermès to part with one of these precious bags. Millions of dollars worth of Birkins later, Michael had become one of eBay's most successful entrepreneurs-and a Robin Hood to thousands of desperate rich women.
With down-to-earth wit, Michael chronicles the unusual ventures that took him to nearly every continent, from eBay to Paris auction house and into the lives of celebrities and poseurs. Flirting with danger, Michael recounts the heady rush of hand delivering his first big score to famed songwriter Carole Bayer Sager in Paris; how he had to hire thugs to rescue a bag that one of his "shoppers" held for ransom; and the story of the Oscar-worthy performances that allowed him to snag "reserved" bags from other, less dogged Birkin seekers. .... The result is a memoir that is distinctive, fun, page-turning, and as addictive as its namesake. Click the book cover to read more.
by Elinor Burkett
May 2008, HarperCollins
The first female head of state in the Western world and one of the most influential women in modern history, Golda Meir was a member of the tiny coterie of founders of the State of Israel, the architect of its socialist infrastructure, and its most tenacious international defender. Her uncompromising devotion to shaping and defending a Jewish homeland against dogged enemies and skittish allies stunned political contemporaries skeptical about the stamina of an elderly leader, and transformed Middle Eastern politics for decades to follow.
A blend of Emma Goldman and Martin Luther King Jr. in the guise of a cookie-serving grandmother, Meir was a tough-as-nails politician who issued the first prescient warnings about the rise of international terrorism, out-maneuvered Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger at their own game of realpolitik, and led Israel through a bloody war even as she eloquently pleaded for peace. A prodigious fundraiser and persuasive international voice, Golda carried the nation through its most perilous hours while she herself battled cancer.
In this masterful biography, critically acclaimed author and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Elinor Burkett looks beyond Meir's well-known accomplishments to the complex motivations and ideals, personal victories and disappointments, of her charismatic public persona. Beginning with Meir's childhood in virulently anti-Semitic Russia and her family's subsequent relocation to the United States, Burkett places Meir within the framework of the American immigrant experience, the Holocaust, and the single-mindedness of a generation that carved a nation out of its own nightmares and dreams. She paints a vivid portrait of a legendary woman defined by contradictions: an iron resolve coupled with magnetic charm, an utter ordinariness of appearance matched to extraordinary achievements, a kindly demeanor that disguised a stunning hard-heartedness, and a complete dedication to her country that often overwhelmed her personal relationships.
To produce this definitive account of Meir's life, Burkett mined historical records never before examined by any researcher, and interviewed members of Meir's inner circle, many going on record for the first time. The result is an astounding portrait of one of the most commanding political presences of the twentieth century-a woman whose uncompromising commitment to the creation and preservation of a Jewish state fueled and framed the ideological conflicts that still define Middle Eastern relations today.
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N O W I N P A P E R B A C K
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
by Michael Chabon
Spring 2008, Harper
From Publishers Weekly. Starred Review. Chabon's storytelling, in this alternate history of a world where Jews were settled in Alaska after World War II, is vivid enough, with inventive metaphors packed in like tapestry threads, but Peter Riegert's versatile voice makes the invented society even more tangible. Told through the eyes of Meyer Landsman, a police detective investigating a murder, the novel occurs in a strange time to be a Jew, as several characters ruefully put it: the special Jewish district will soon be controlled by Alaska again. In a bonus interview on the last disc, Chabon relates his desire to write about a place where Yiddish was an official language. The book is shot through with Yiddish phrases and names, which melodically roll off Riegert's tongue. He gives Landsman and his tough but warmhearted partner Berko similar yet distinct gruff voices that contrast well with the effeminate-sounding sect leader and the Southern-accented Americans who come to start the land reversion process. Riegert's pacing increases the enjoyment of this expertly spun mystery. Click the book cover to read more.
Introduction to Islam for Jews
by Reuven Firestone
May 2008, JPS
Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States, Israel, and Europe are tenuous. Jews and Muslims struggle to understand one another and know little about each other's traditions and beliefs. Firestone explains the remarkable similarities and profound differences between Judaism and Islam, the complex history of Jihad, the legal and religious positions of Jews in the world of Islam, how various expressions of Islam (Sunni, Shi`a, Sufi, Salafi, etc.) regard Jews, the range of Muslim views about Israel, and much more. He addresses these issues and others with candor and integrity, and he writes with language, symbols, and ideas that make sense to Jews. Exploring these subjects in today's vexed political climate is a delicate undertaking. Firestone draws on the research and writings of generations of Muslim, Jewish, and other scholars, as well as his own considerable expertise in this field. The book's tone is neither disparaging, apologetic, nor triumphal. Firestone provides many original sources in translation, as well as an appendix of additional key sources in context. Most importantly, this book is readable and reasoned, presenting to readers for the first time the complexity of Islam and its relationship toward Jews and Judaism. Click the book cover to read more.
We Plan, God Laughs
Ten Steps to Finding Your Divine Path When Life is Not Turning Out Like You Wanted
by Rabbi Sherre Hirsch
May 2008, Doubleday
From Publishers Weekly: Hirsch, a rabbi who has counseled many individuals over the years, puts their stories to good use as she proffers 10 steps to self-improvement and spiritual health. In addition to everyday stories from Hirsch's work life, as well as personal reflections (for example, to illustrate the idea of step seven, the divine spark, Hirsch tells the story of how she decided to become a rabbi), Hirsch draws on familiar figures from the Bible. She uses Jacob and Esau in step three to demonstrate how to forget past hurts and fears in order to become present in the here and now, and Jacob's ladder to illustrate step eight's instruction to be adventurous and take leaps of faith. Hirsch writes fluidly and makes readers feel as if she's speaking directly to them and never patronizes. Anyone who can advise readers to [t]ake your chicken, put all your 'oopses' on it, swing it around a few times, and call it a day in a way that makes complete sense is worth reading.
The old Yiddish proverb, "We Plan, God Laughs," expresses a truth everyone can relate to. At every stage of life we make plans, setting out where we want to go and imagining what we will be like when we have "arrived." But things have a way of turning out not quite as we hoped or expected.
In WE PLAN, GOD LAUGHS, Sherre Hirsch argues that too often our plans are limited to ones we think up at bedtime, or are devised by our parents, or by what looks good on a résumé. Addressing serious spiritual issues, Hirsch explains how to formulate a plan that reflects who we are now and who we want to be-a plan that is alive, organic, and in sync with God. Hirsch teaches the importance of letting go and recognizing that even the most ordinary life is extraordinary in the eyes of God. She makes no foolish promise that life will turn out as we plan, but shows that with hope, faith, and belief, we can change our lives for the better and make a positive difference in the lives of others
Rabbi Sherre Zwelling Hirsch was ordained at JTS, and also has an MHL from University of Judaism in LA, and a BA from Northwestern. One of very few female rabbis in the country - and only the 60th woman ordained in the Conservative movement - Rabbi Hirsch is someone you instantly connect with and would like to invite to your house for coffee. Rabbi Hirsch served one of the largest synagogues in the United States, Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, and during her eight-year tenure was instrumental in its growth from 900 to nearly 2,000 families. Maybe you have seen her on The Today Show or on Naomi Judd's weekly New Morning show on the Hallmark Channel or The Tyra Banks Show. Click the book cover to read more.
CITY OF THIEVES
by David Benioff
May 2008, Viking
David Beniott (Friedman), novelist and screenwriter, Dartmouth grad and husband to Amanda Peet, has written the Russia based novel based on the stories of his grandfather. Lev Beniov, 17, is arrested during WW2 in Leningrad for looting a dead German soldier. Rather than execute Lev, Colonel Grechko sends him on a quest to find a dozen eggs which will be used to make a wedding cake for the colonel's daughter. And so the adventure begins.
Lev Beniov considers himself "built for deprivation." He's small, smart, and insecure, a Jewish virgin too young for the army, who spends his nights working as a volunteer firefighter with friends from his building. When a dead German paratrooper lands in his street, Lev is caught looting the body and dragged to jail, fearing for his life. He shares his cell with the charismatic and grandiose Kolya, a handsome young soldier arrested on desertion charges. Instead of the standard bullet in the back of the head, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful colonel to use in his daughter's wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt to find the impossible. A search that takes them through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and the devastated surrounding countryside creates an unlikely bond between this earnest, lust-filled teenager and an endearing lothario with the gifts of a conman. Set within the monumental events of history, City of Thieves is an intimate coming-of-age tale with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men. Click the book cover to read more.
A MEMOIR OF FAT CAMP
BY STEPHANIE KLEIN
May 2008, William Morrow
With her signature acerbic wit and captivating insight, the author of the wildly popular Straight Up And Dirty offers a powerful and beautifully stark portrait of adolescence. While pregnant with twins, one sentence uttered by her doctor sends Stephanie Klein reeling: "You need to gain fifty pounds." Instantly, an adolescence filled with insecurity, disappointment, and embarrassment comes flooding back. Though she is determined to gain the weight for the health of her babies-even if it means she'll "weigh more than a Honda" -she can only express what deep fear this causes by telling her doctor simply, "I used to be fat." Stephanie was a seventh-grader with a weight problem. It was a problem at school, where the boys called her "Moose" and her only friends were the nerds and misfits, and it was a problem at home, where her father reminded her, "No one likes fat girls." After several unsuccessful attempts at dieting and many frustrating sessions with a nutritionist known as the Fat Doctor of Roslyn Heights, Long Island, Stephanie's parents enrolled her for a summer at fat camp. Determined to return to school thin and popular, without her "lard arms" and "puckered ham," Stephanie embarked on a memorable journey that would shape more than just her body. It would shape her life. In the ever-shifting terrain between fat and thin, adulthood and childhood, cellulite and starvation, Stephanie shares the cutting details of what it truly feels like to be an overweight child, from the stinging taunts of classmates, to the off-color remarks of her own father, to her thin mother's compulsive dissatisfaction with her own body. Calling upon her childhood diary entries to jog her memory, Klein opens up and uncovers her deepest thoughts and feelings from that turbulent, hopeful time, baring her soul and making her heartache palpable. Whether Klein is describing her life as a chubby adolescent camper-getting weighed on a meat scale, petting past curfew, and "chunky dunking" in the lake-or what it's like now as a fit mother, having one-sided conversations with her newborn twins about the therapy they'll one day need, this hilarious yet grippingly vulnerable book will remind you what it was like to feel like an outsider, to desperately seek the right outfit, the right slang, the best comeback, or whatever that unattainable something was that would finally make you fit in. Click the book cover to read more.
The Jewish Princess Cookbook
Having Your Cake and Eating It . . .
by Georgie Tarn and Tracey Fine
May 2008, McBooks
Perfectly attuned to today's "Jewish Princess," this practical and delightful book delivers mouth-watering recipes laced with plenty of humor and a dash of chutzpah. Contrary to popular stereotypes, the Jewish Princess is simply a woman who knows how to make the most of herself and how to enjoy life to the fullest. She also knows that good food is a large part of that enjoyment. This guide features a host of fabulous traditional as well as nouveau Jewish dishes, all featuring quick preparation, allowing plenty of time for the rest of life's pleasures. Click the book cover to read more.
175 Easy-to-Prepare Recipes for Today's Kosher Cooks
by Ronnie Fein
March 2008, De Capo
Kosher cuisine is a culinary niche that is rapidly becoming mainstream, as many home cooks outside the Jewish community, seeking more healthful and humane fare, are embracing kosher foods and Jewish dietary laws. Now, Hip Kosher provides detailed, practical resources for finding kosher items in your local stores and more than 175 recipes for every meal and occasion, showcasing contemporary American dishes rather than traditional Eastern European or Sephardic fare. Accessible, easy-to-prepare, and versatile, the recipes are perfect for busy people who don't have hours to spend in the kitchen. Many recipes include menu suggestions, while sidebars note recipe variations, updates on classics, and helpful prep hints about ingredients and tools. Fein also describes Jewish dietary laws (and halal, permitted Muslim foods) and provides comprehensive sources. Click the book cover to read more.
The Americans Who Turned Political Spin into a Global Business
by James Harding
May 2008, Farrar Straus & Giroux
My favorite book of May.
Alpha Dogs is the story of the men from a short-lived but enormously influential campaign business called Sawyer-Miller who served as backroom strategists on every presidential contest from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. David Sawyer was a New England aristocrat with dreams of a career as a filmmaker; Scott Miller, the son of an Ohio shoe salesman, had a knack for copywriting. Unlikely partners, they became a political powerhouse, directing democratic revolutions from the Philippines to Chile, steering a dozen presidents and prime ministers into office, and instilling the campaign ethic in corporate giants from Coca-Cola to Apple. Long after the firm had broken up and sold out, its alumni had moved into the White House, to dozens of foreign countries, and to the offices of America's blue-chip chief executives. The men of Sawyer-Miller were the Manhattan Project of spin politics: a small but extraordinary group who invented an American-style political campaigning and exported it around the world. In this lively and engaging narrative, James Harding tells the story of a few men whose political savvy, entrepreneurial drive, and sheer greed would alter the landscape of global politics. It is a story full of office intrigue, fierce rivalries, and disastrous miscalculations. And it is the tale of how world politics became American, and how American business became political. Click the book cover to read more.
Is There a Right to Remain Silent?
Coercive Interrogation and the Fifth Amendment After 9/11
by Alan M. Dershowitz
May 2008, Oxford
The right to remain silent, guaranteed by the famed Fifth Amendment case, Miranda v. Arizona, is perhaps one of the most easily recognized and oft-quoted constitutional rights in American culture. Yet despite its ubiquity, there is widespread misunderstanding about the right and the protections promised under the Fifth Amendment. In Is There a Right to Remain Silent? renowned legal scholar and bestselling author Alan Dershowitz reveals precisely why our Fifth Amendment rights matter and how they are being reshaped, limited, and in some cases revoked in the wake of 9/11. As security concerns have heightened, law enforcement has increasingly turned its attention from punishing to preventing crime. Dershowitz argues that recent Supreme Court decisions have opened the door to coercive interrogations-even when they amount to torture-if they are undertaken to prevent a crime, especially a terrorist attack, and so long as the fruits of such interrogations are not introduced into evidence at the criminal trial of the coerced person. In effect, the court has given a green light to all preventive interrogation methods. By deftly tracing the evolution of the Fifth Amendment from its inception in the Bill of Rights to the present day, where national security is the nation's first priority, Dershowitz puts forward a bold reinterpretation of the Fifth Amendment for the post-9/11 world. As the world we live in changes from a "deterrent state" to the heightened vigilance of today's "preventative state," our construction, he argues, must also change. We must develop a jurisprudence that will contain both substantive and procedural rules for all actions taken by government officials in order to prevent harmful conduct-including terrorism. Timely, provocative, and incisively written, Is There a Right to Remain Silent? presents an absorbing look at one of our most essential constitutional rights at one of the most critical moments in recent American history.BR>
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THE STORY OF A VERY JEWISH HOSPITAL
Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God andD iversity on Steroids
by Julie Salamon
May 2008. Penguin
Most people agree that there are complicated issues at play in the delivery of health care today, but those issues may not always be what we think they are. In 2005, Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, unveiled a new state-of-theart, multimillion-dollar cancer center. Determined to understand the whole spectrum of factors that determine what kind of medical care people receive in this country, bestselling author Julie Salamon spent one year tracking the progress of the center and getting to know the characters who make the hospital run. Located in a community where sixty-seven different languages are spoken, Maimonides is a case study for the particular kinds of concerns that arise in institutions that serve an increasingly multicultural American demographic. Granted an astonishing "warts and all" level of access by the hospital higher-ups, Salamon followed the doctors, patients, administrators, nurses, ambulance drivers, cooks, and cleaning staff. She explored not just the action on the ground-what happens between doctors and patients-but also the financial, ethical, technological, sociological, and cultural matters that the hospital community encounters every day.
She draws out the internal and external political machinations that exist between doctors and staff as well as between hospital and community. And she grounds the science and emotion of medical drama in the financial realities of operating a huge, private institution that must contend with issues like adapting to the specific needs of immigrant groups that make up a large and growing portion of our society.
Salamon exposes struggles of both the profound and humdrum variety. There are bitter internal feuds, warm personal connections, comedy, egoism, greed, love, and loss.
There are rabbinic edicts to contend with as well as imams and herbalists and local politicians.
There are system foul-ups that keep blood test results from being delivered on time, careless record keepers, shortages of everything except forms to fill, recalcitrant and greedy insurance reimbursement systems, and the surprising difficulty of getting doctors to wash their hands.
This is the dynamic universe of small and large concerns and personalities that, taken together, determine the nature of our care and assume the utmost importance. As Martin Payson-chairman of the board at Maimonides and ex-Time-Warner vice chairman-puts it: "Hospitals have a lot in common with the movie business. You've got your talent, entrepreneurs, ambition, ego stroking, the business versus the creative part. The big difference is that in the hospital you don't get second takes. Movies are make-believe. This is real life." Click the book cover to read more.
Lodz and the Making of a Nazi City
by Gordon J. Horwitz, Illinois Wesleyan University
May 2008, Harvard University Press
PW says this is a tour de force and gives it a starred review
Under the Third Reich, Nazi Germany undertook an unprecedented effort to refashion the city of Lodz. Home to prewar Poland's second most populous Jewish community, this was to become a German city of enchantment-a modern, clean, and orderly showcase of urban planning and the arts. Central to the undertaking, however, was a crime of unparalleled dimension: the ghettoization, exploitation, and ultimate annihilation of the city's entire Jewish population. Ghettostadt is the terrifying examination of the Jewish ghetto's place in the Nazi worldview. Exploring ghetto life in its broadest context, it deftly maneuvers between the perspectives and actions of Lodz's beleaguered Jewish community, the Germans who oversaw and administered the ghetto's affairs, and the "ordinary" inhabitants of the once Polish city. Gordon Horwitz reveals patterns of exchange, interactions, and interdependence within the city that are stunning in their extent and intimacy. He shows how the Nazis, exercising unbounded force and deception, exploited Jewish institutional traditions, social divisions, faith in rationality, and hope for survival to achieve their wider goal of Jewish elimination from the city and the world. With unusual narrative force, the work brings to light the crushing moral dilemmas facing one of the most significant Jewish communities of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, while simultaneously exploring the ideological underpinnings and cultural, economic, and social realities within which the Holocaust took shape and flourished. This lucid, powerful, and harrowing account of the daily life of the "new" German city, both within and beyond the ghetto of Lodz, is an extraordinary revelation of the making of the Holocaust.
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A GENETIC VIEW OF JEWISH HISTORY
BY DAVID B. GOLDSTEIN
May 2008, Yale
Who are the Jews? Where did they come from? What is the connection between an ancient Jewish priest in Jerusalem and today's Israeli sunbather on the beaches of Tel Aviv? These questions stand at the heart of this engaging book. Geneticist David Goldstein analyzes modern DNA studies of Jewish populations and examines the intersections of these scientific findings with the history (both biblical and modern) and oral tradition of the Jews. With a special gift for translating complex scientific concepts into language understandable to all, Goldstein delivers an accessible, personal, and fascinating book that tells the history of a group of people through the lens of genetics.
In a series of detective-style stories, Goldstein explores the priestly lineage of Jewish males as manifested by Y chromosomes; the Jewish lineage claims of the Lemba, an obscure black South African tribe; the differences in maternal and paternal genetic heritage among Jewish populations; and much more. The author also grapples with the medical and ethical implications of our rapidly growing command of the human genomic landscape. The study of genetics has not only changed the study of Jewish history, Goldstein shows, it has altered notions of Jewish identity and even our understanding of what makes a people a people. Click the book cover to read more.
True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad
by Bob Morris
May 2008, Harpers
What would you do if your eighty-year-old father dragged you into his hell-bent hunt for new love? Bob Morris, a seriously single son, tells you all about it in this warm, witty, and wacky chronicle of a year of dating dangerously. A few months after the death of his wife, Joe Morris, an affable, eccentric, bridge-obsessed octogenarian, starts flapping about for a replacement. If he can get a new hip, he figures, why not a new wife? At first, his son Bob is appalled, but suspicion quickly turns to enthusiasm as he finds himself trolling the personals, screening prospects, and offering etiquette tips, chaperoning services, and post-date assessments to his needy father. Bob hopes that Joe will find a well-heeled lady-or at least one who is very patient-to get him out of his hair. But soon they discover that finding a new mate will not be as easy as they think: one date is too morose, another too liberal; one's a three-timer, another just needs an escort until Mr. Right comes along. Dad persists and son assists. Am I pimping for my father? he begins to wonder. Meanwhile, Bob suffers similar frustrations; trying to find love isn't easy in a big-city market that has little use for a middle-aged gay man with an attitude and a paunch. But with the encouragement of his father (his biggest fan and the world's "most democratic Republican") he prevails. In the end, this memoir becomes a twin love story and a soulful lesson about giving and receiving affection with an open heart. With wicked humor and a dollop of compassion, Bob Morris gleefully explores the impact of senior parents on their boomer kids and the perils of dating at any age. Click the book cover to read more.
THE LAZARUS PROJECT
BY ALEKSANDER HEMON
May 2008, Riverhead
On March 2, 1908, nineteen-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, a recent Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe to Chicago, knocked on the front door of the house of George Shippy, the chief of Chicago police. When Shippy came to the door, Averbuch offered him what he said was an important letter. Instead of taking the letter, Shippy shot Averbuch twice, killing him. When Shippy released a statement casting Averbuch as a would-be anarchist assassin and agent of foreign political operatives, he all but set off a city and a country already simmering with ethnic and political tensions. Now, in the twenty-first century, a young writer in Chicago, Brik, also from Eastern Europe, becomes obsessed with Lazarus's story-what really happened, and why? In order to understand Averbuch, Brik and his friend Rora-who overflows with stories of his life as a Sarajevo war photographer-retrace Averbuch's path across Eastern Europe, through a history of pogroms and poverty, and through a present-day landscape of cheap mafiosi and cheaper prostitutes. The stories of Averbuch and Brik become inextricably entwined, augmented by the photographs that Rora takes on their journey, creating a truly original, provocative, and entertaining novel that will confirm Hemon once and for all as one of the most dynamic and essential literary voices of our time.
David Leavitt, writing in the Washington Post, adds, "... The Lazarus Project, the masterful new novel from the Bosnian-American writer Aleksandar Hemon, opens with a passage that recalls the invocations of epic poetry: "The time and place," Hemon tells us, "are the only things I am certain of: March 2, 1908, Chicago. Beyond that is the haze of history and pain, and now I plunge." Which muses Hemon invoked in writing this troubling, funny and redemptive novel are not named, though one supposes that Clio, the muse of history, must have had some involvement, as well as Melpomene, the muse of tragedy. If there were muses of "stolen cars and sadness" -- his country's "main exports," according to Hemon -- they would no doubt have played a role as well. ...
...At the heart of The Lazarus Project is a true story: On March 2, 1908, Lazarus Averbuch, a 19-year-old Eastern European Jewish immigrant and the survivor of an Easter 1903 pogrom in the village of Kishinev, knocked on the door of George Shippy, the Chicago chief of police. Their encounter culminated with Shippy shooting and killing Lazarus, whom he claimed was an anarchist.
Hemon imagines that a hundred years later, a non-Jewish Bosnian immigrant named Brik, who works in Chicago as a teacher and journalist, wins a grant to do research for a book on Lazarus. His plan, he says, is to "follow Lazarus all the way back to the pogrom in Kishinev, to the time before America. I needed to reimagine what I could not retrieve; I needed to see what I could not imagine."
....The structure of The Lazarus Project is ingenious. Alternating chapters give us the story of Lazarus's killing (the story Brik is writing) and the story of Brik's own journey in search of Lazarus. Then, as the novel progresses, these narratives begin, eerily, to merge. Characters from Brik's life -- or versions of them -- show up in Lazarus's story. Even Brik himself makes a brief appearance. It's a conceit that Hemon justifies through a series of meditations on the idea of resurrection that Lazarus, by his very name, evokes. Art is resurrection, but so is history, a point that Hemon drives home when he notes (ruefully) the 1908 newspaper editorials bemoaning "the weak laws that allowed the foreign anarchist pestilence to breed parasitically on the American body politic. The war against anarchism was much like the current war on terror -- funny how old habits never die."
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Memories of Babi
May 2008, FSG
Piri is a city girl, but every year she goes to visit her grandmother Babi on her farm in the Ukrainian village of Komjaty. There is a lot that Piri finds strange, even scary, in Komjaty, such as the ghost in the form of a rooster who supposedly haunts the cemetery! But Piri loves country life: making corn bread, eating plums right off the tree, venturing out with her grandmother in the early morning to hunt for mushrooms. And during her time with Babi, Piri learns lessons that will stay with her all of her life, about the importance of honest hard work, of caring for the less fortunate, and of having the courage to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. In these nine stories, Aranka Siegal paints a tender portrait of the love between a grandmother and granddaughter, inspired by her own experiences with her grandmother.
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Upon the Head of the Goat
A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944
By Aranka Siegal
Ages 12 and Up
These memoirs of a Hungarian girl liberated from Bergen-Belsen, said PW , are among "the most powerful accounts yet written by a survivor of the Third Reich." At the outbreak of World War II, 9-year-old Piri is visiting her grandmother in the Ukrainian countryside and is unable to return to her family in the Hungarian town of Beregszász. Aranka Siegal, the Piri of the narrative, finally comes home the following year but finds her life forever changed."
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The Fruit Hunters
A Story of Nature, Obsession, Commerce, and Adventure
by Adam Gollner
May 2008, Scribner
Tasty, lethal, hallucinogenic, and medicinal-fruits have led nations into wars, fueled dictatorships, and even lured us into new worlds. Adam Leith Gollner weaves business, science, and travel into a riveting narrative about one of earth's most desired foods. Readers will discover why even though countless exotic fruits exist in nature, only several dozen varieties are vailable in supermarkets. Gollner explores the political machinations of multinational fruit corporations, exposing the hidden alliances between agribusiness and government and what that means for public health. He traces
the life of mass-produced fruits-how they are created, grown, and marketed, and he explores the underworld of fruits that are inaccessible, ignored, and even forbidden in the Western world. Gollner draws readers into a Willy Wonka-like world with mangoes that taste like piña coladas, orange cloudberries, peanut butter fruits, and the miracle fruit that turns everything sour sweet, making lemons taste like lemonade. Peopled with a varied and bizarre cast of characters-from smugglers to explorers to inventors-this extraordinary book unveils the hidden universe of fruit.
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A Choice of Enemies
America Confronts the Middle East
by Sir Lawrence Freedman, Kings College
May 2008, Public Affairs
It is in the Middle East that the U.S. has been made to confront its attitudes on the use of force, the role of allies, and international law. The history of the U.S. in the Middle East, then, becomes an especially revealing mirror on America's view of its role in the wider world. In this wise, objective, and illuminating history, Lawrence Freedman shows how three key events in 1978-79 helped establish the foundations for U.S. involvement in the Middle East that would last for thirty years, without offering any straightforward or bloodless exit options: the Camp David summit leading to the Israel-Egypt Treaty; the Iranian Islamic revolution leading to the Shah's departure followed by the hostage crisis; and the socialist revolution in Afghanistan, resulting in the doomed Soviet intervention. Freedman makes clear how America's strategic choices in those and subsequent crises led us to where we are today. A Choice of Enemas is essential reading for anyone concerned with the complex politics of the region or with the future of American foreign policy. Click the book cover to read more.
If I'd Known Then
Women in Their 20s and 30s Write Letters to Their Younger Selves
by Ellyn Spragins
Spring 2008, Da Capo
If you could send a letter back in time to yourself, what would it say? Following in the tradition of the bestselling What I Know Now(tm) comes a new collection that will speak directly to young women. Editor Ellyn Spragins asked women under forty to write letters to the girls they once were, filled with the advice and insights they wish they'd had when they were younger. Readers will recognize familiar names as well as meet new voices in these wonderfully candid missives, including: author Hope Edelman; actress Jessica Alba; Olympic soccer gold medalist Julia Foudy; activist Zainab Salbi; actress Danica McKellar; and author Plum Sykes. A perfect gift at graduation or for any important young woman in your life, If I'd Known Then offers rare glimpses into the personal stories of extraordinary young women-and will inspire readers to live their best lives.
Also entries from Ssha Cohen, Misty Copeland, Minday Lam, Sonya Kitchell, Lisa Loeb, Plum Sykes, Ariel Schrag, Dany Levy, and more. Click the book cover to read more.
FOOLING SOME OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME
A LONG SHORT STORY
BY DAVID EINHORN
May 2008, Wiley
In 2002, David Einhorn, the President of Greenlight Capital, gave a speech at a charity investment conference to benefit a children's cancer hospital. He was asked to share his best investment idea, so he did. He described his reasons why Greenlight had sold short the shares of Allied Capital, a leader in the private finance industry. Greenlight bet that the stock would decline because the company's business was in trouble and its accounting was corrupt. Einhorn's speech was so compelling that the next day, when the New York Stock Exchange opened for trading, Allied's shares remained closed. So many investors wanted to sell or short the stock that the NYSE could not balance all the sell orders to open Allied's trading in an orderly fashion.
What followed was a firestorm of controversy. Allied responded with a Washington, D.C.-style spin-job- attacking Einhorn and disseminating half-truths and outright lies. Rather than protect investors by reviewing Einhorn's well-documented case against Allied, the SEC-at the behest of the politically connected Allied- instead investigated Einhorn for stock manipulation. Over the ensuing six years, the SEC allowed Allied to make the problem bigger by approving more than a dozen additional stock offerings that raised over $1 billion from new investors. Undeterred by the spin-job, lies, and investigations, Greenlight continued its research after the speech and discovered Allied's behavior was far worse than Einhorn ever suspected- and, shockingly, it continues to this day.
Fooling Some of the People All of the Time is the gripping chronicle of this ongoing saga. Page by page, it delves deep inside Wall Street, showing how the $6 billion hedge fund Greenlight Capital conducts its investment research and detailing the maneuvers of an unscrupulous company. Along the way, you'll witness feckless regulators, compromised politicians, and the barricades our capital markets have erected against exposing misconduct from important Wall Street customers. You will also discover the immense difficulties that prevent the government from sanctioning politically connected companies-making future Enrons inevitable. This revealing book shows the failings of Wall Street: its investment banks, analysts, journalists, and especially our government regulators.
At its most basic level, Allied Capital is the story of Wall Street at its worst. But the story is much bigger than one little-known company. Fooling Some of the People All of the Time is an important call for effective law enforcement, free speech, and fair play.
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Who Do You Think You Are?
by Alyse Myers
May 2008, Touchstone
After her mother's death, Alyse Myers covets only one thing: a wooden box that sits in the back of a closet. Its contents have been kept from her for her entire life. When she was thirteen years old her mother promised she could have the box, "when I'm dead. In fact, it'll be my present to you." Growing up in Queens in the 1960s and '70s, Alyse always yearned for more in life, while her mother settled for an unhappy marriage, an unsatisfying job, and ultimately a joyless existence. Her father drifts in and out of their home. There are harrowing fights, abject cruelty, and endless uncertainty. Throughout her childhood Alyse adamantly rejects everything about her mother's lifestyle, leaving her mother to ask "Who do you think you are?" A personal portrait of a mother and daughter, Who Do You Think You Are? explores the profound and poignant revelations that so often can come to light only after a parent has died. Balancing childhood memories with adult observations, Alyse Myers creates a riveting and deeply moving narrative.
I didn't like my mother, and I certainly didn't love her. The only time we actually had anything in common was when I had my own daughter -- but by then it was too late, since my mother was to die before we really could compare notes.
I know she didn't like me either. I can't say whether she loved me, as I don't remember her ever telling me so. But her dislike was more about not understanding the monster she created, as she would say, the person who wanted so much more than she expected -- or was able -- to give. Or wanted to give. To me. To my sisters. And to herself.
My mother married my father when she was nineteen and was a widow at thirty-three. She told me that he was the only man she had ever been with, both before they married and after he died. Even when I was a child, I knew that theirs was a complicated marriage. I wanted to believe they were destined to be together, that their bitter fights had to do with his illness and her inability to cope with it. I didn't want to believe that my parents -- childhood sweethearts -- could end up hating each other with a passion that still frightens and saddens me to this day.
A week after her funeral in 1993, my two sisters and I were in her apartment in Queens, New York, arguing over who would get her things. I was thirty-seven and my sisters would soon be thirty-five and thirty-four. She didn't have much, and I knew we were fighting over who would get more for herself and not for who would have more of her. Who would get the ugly blue and white crystal bowl that a neighbor's daughter had given my mother after a trip to Germany as thanks for looking in on her elderly mother? Or the Lladró porcelain statue of a milkmaid that came from Spain, a gift from that same neighbor's daughter? Or the framed painting of a Moorish castle that she bought at a Greenwich Village art show and was so proud that it perfectly matched the green and gold motif of her living room?
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HOLLYWOOD'S VERDICT ON ARABS AFTER 9/11
BY JACK G. SHAHEEN
May 2008. Interlink
"Nothing will be the same again." Americans scarred by the experience of 9/11 often express this sentiment. But what remains the same, argues Jack G. Shaheen, is Hollywood's stereotyping of Arabs. Before 9/11, Shaheen dissected Hollywood's equation of Islam and Arabs with violence in Reel Bad Arabs, his comprehensive study of over a thousand movies. Arabs and Muslims, he showed, were used as shorthand for the "Enemy" and the "Other." In his new book about films made after 9/11, Shaheen finds the same malevolent stereotypes at play. Nearly all of Hollywood's post-9/11 films legitimize a view of Arabs as stereotyped villains--sheikhs, Palestinians, or terrorists. And this happens in every type of film imaginable: one out of four of the movies profiled here have absolutely nothing to do with the Middle East, yet producers toss in weird, shady, unscrupulous Arabs. Along with an examination of a hundred recent movies, Shaheen addresses the cultural issues at play since 9/11: the government's public relations campaigns to win "hearts and minds" and the impact of 9/11 on citizens and on the imagination. He suggests that winning the "war on terror" would take shattering the century-old stereotypes of Arabs. He calls for speaking out, for more Arab Americans in the film industry, for fresh films, and for a serious effort on the part of our government to tackle this problem.
Jack G. Shaheen is the author of the bestselling encyclopedia of Arabs in Hollywood, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. Click the book cover to read more.
A Tale of Impossible Love (Jewish Women Writers)
by Judith Katzir. Translated by Dalya Bilu
May 2008. Feminist Press CUNY
Written by best-selling Israeli author Judith Katzir, Dearest Anne is a stirring record of an artist's coming-of-age during the 1970s and the story of a hidden, erotic love affair between a teenaged girl and her married teacher, Michaela.
After reading Anne Frank's diary, young Rivi starts a series of writing notebooks that document the angst of growing up in rural Israel. The entries reveal how her crush on her literature teacher develops into a poignant and turbulent love affair that lasts for years before its scandalous end. Decades later, the grown Rivi, now a mother, wife, and established author, comes to terms with the forbidden love that shaped her future. Click the book cover to read more.
My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever
by Joel Derfner
May 2008, Broadway
Joel Derfner is gayer than you. Don't feel too bad about it, though, because he has made being gayer than you his life's work. At summer day camp, when he was six, Derfner tried to sign up for needlepoint and flower arranging, but the camp counselors wouldn't let him, because, they said, those activities were for girls only. Derfner, just to be contrary, embarked that very day on a solemn and sacred quest: to become the gayest person ever. Along the way he has become a fierce knitter, an even fiercer musical theater composer, and so totally the fiercest step aerobics instructor (just ask him-he'll tell you himself). In Swish, Derfner takes his readers on a flamboyant adventure along the glitter-strewn road from fabulous to divine. Whether he's confronting the demons of his past at a GLBT summer camp, using the Internet to "meet" men-many, many men-or plunging headfirst (and nearly naked) into the shady world of go-go dancing, he reveals himself with every gayer-than-thou flourish to be not just a stylish explorer but also a fearless one. So fearless, in fact, that when he sneaks into a conference for people who want to cure themselves of their homosexuality, he turns the experience into one of the most fascinating, deeply moving chapters of the book. Derfner, like King Arthur, Christopher Columbus, and Indiana Jones-but with a better haircut and a much deeper commitment to fad diets-is a hero destined for legend. Written with wicked humor and keen insight, Swish is at once a hilarious look at contemporary ideas about gay culture and a poignant exploration of identity that will speak to all readers-gay, straight, and in between. Click the book cover to read more.
UP TILL NOW
By William Shatner with David Fisher
May 2008, Thomas Dunne
After almost sixty years as an actor, William Shatner has become one of the most beloved entertainers in the world. And it seems as if Shatner is everywhere. Winning an Emmy for his role on Boston Legal. Doing commercials for Priceline.com. In the movie theaters. Singing with Ben Folds. He's sitting next to Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel, and he's practically a regular on Howard Stern's show. He was recently honored with election to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. He was a target on a Comedy Central's Celebrity Roast entitled "The Shat Hits the Fan." In Up Till Now, Shatner sits down with readers and offers the remarkable, full story of his life and explains how he got to be, well, everywhere... William Shatner has always been willing to take risks for his art. What other actor would star in history's first---and probably only---all-Esperanto-language film? Who else would share the screen with thousands of tarantulas, release an album called Has Been, or film a racially incendiary film in the Deep South during the height of the civil rights era? And who else would willingly paramotor into a field of waiting fans armed with paintball guns, all waiting for a chance to stun Captain...er, Shatner? In this touching and very funny autobiography, William Shatner reveals the man behind these unforgettable moments, and how he's become the worldwide star and experienced actor he is today. Click the book cover to read more.
Hitler, the Germans, and the Final Solution
by Ian Kershaw
May 2008, Yale
This book is the culmination of more than three decades of meticulous historiographic research on Nazi Germany by one of the period's most distinguished historians. The volume brings together the most important and influential aspects of Ian Kershaw's research on the Holocaust for the first time. The writings are arranged in three sections-Hitler and the Final Solution, popular opinion and the Jews in Nazi Germany, and the Final Solution in historiography-and Kershaw provides an introduction and a closing section on the uniqueness of Nazism. Kershaw was a founding historian of the social history of the Third Reich, and he has throughout his career conducted pioneering research on the societal causes and consequences of Nazi policy. His work has brought much to light concerning the ways in which the attitudes of the German populace shaped and did not shape Nazi policy. This volume presents a comprehensive, multifaceted picture both of the destructive dynamic of the Nazi leadership and of the attitudes and behavior of ordinary Germans as the persecution of the Jews spiraled into total genocide. Click the book cover to read more.
By DAVID DOWNING
May 2008, SoHo
Summer, 1939. British journalist John Russell has just been granted American citizenship in exchange for agreeing to work for American intelligence when his girlfriend Effi is arrested by the Gestapo. Russell hoped his new nationality would let him safely stay in Berlin with Effi and his son, but now he's being blackmailed. To free Effi, he must agree to work for the Nazis. They know he has Soviet connections and want him to pass them false intelligence. Russell consents, but secretly offers his services to the Soviets instead-not for anything too dangerous, though, and only if they'll sneak him and Effi out of Germany if necessary. It's a good plan, but soon things become complicated. A Jewish girl has vanished, and Russell feels compelled to search for her. A woman from his past, a communist, reappears, insisting he help her reconnect with the Soviets, who turn out to demand more than Russell hoped. Meanwhile, Europe lurches toward war, and he must follow the latest stories-to places where American espionage assignments await him. Click the book cover to read more.
Until Our Last Breath
A Holocaust Story of Love and Partisan Resistance
by Michael Bart and Laurel Corona
May 2008, St. Martin's Press
At Leizer Bart's funeral, one of the mourners told his son Michael that the gravestone should include a reference to the Freedom Fighters of Nekamah, to honor his late father's involvement in the Jewish resistance movement in Vilna (now Vilnius), Lithuania, at the end of World War II. Michael had never heard of the Freedom Fighters. Following his father's death, and with his mother in failing health, Michael embarked on a ten-year research project to find out more details about his parents' time in the Vilna ghetto, where they met, fell in love, and married, and about their activities as members of the Jewish resistance. Until Our Last Breath is the culmination of his research, and his parents' story of love and survival is seamlessly tied into the collective story of the Vilna ghetto, the partisans of Vilna, and the wider themes of world history. Zenia, Bart's mother, was born and raised in Vilna. Leizer fled there to escape the Nazi invasion of his hometown of Hrubieshov in Poland. They were married by one of the last remaining rabbis ninety days before the liquidation of the ghetto. Leizer was friends with Zionist leader Abba Kovner and became a member of the Vilna ghetto underground. Shortly before the total liquidation of the ghetto, Zenia and Leizer, along with about 120 members of the underground, were able to escape to the Rudnicki forest, about 25 miles away. They became part of the Jewish partisan fighting group led by Abba Kovner-known as the Avengers-which carried out sabotage missions against the Nazi army and eventually participated in the liberation of Vilna. Until Our Last Breath is intensely personal and painstakingly researched, a lasting memorial to the Jews of Vilna, including the resistance fighters and the author's family. Click the book cover to read more.
FLOWERS OF PERHAPS
By Rahel Bluwstein /
BY RA'HEL. Translated by Robert Friend.
May 2008, Toby Press
What may be most remarkable about the poetry of Rachel is that it has remained fresh in its simplicity and inspiration for more than 70 years. Now, because of Robert Friend's own ability as a poet and a temperment congenial with hers, his translations allow English readers to understand why Rachel is so highly esteemed. This classic is now reissued in a new bilingual edition, the original Hebrew poems appearing next to Friend's superlative translations. Click the book cover to read more.
Save the Last Dance
by Gerald Stern
May 2008, Norton
The fifteenth collection by a celebrated poet whose "terrific, boisterous energy has never flagged" (Megan Harlan, San Francisco Chronicle). In Save the Last Dance, Gerald Stern gives us a stunning collection of his intimately personal-yet always universal, and always surprising-poems, rich with humor and insight. Shorter lyric poems in the first two parts continue the satirical and often redemptive vision of his last collection, Everything Is Burning, while never failing to carve out new emotional territory. In the third part, a long poem called "The Preacher," Stern takes the book of Ecclesiastes as a starting point for a meditation on loss, futility, and emptiness, represented here by the concept of a "hole" that resurfaces throughout. Gerald Stern has won the National Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award, among others, and has taught at many universities. He lives in Lambertville, New Jersey, where they sell a really good grilled cheese sandwich near the New Hope bridge. Click the book cover to read more.
JUNE 2008 BOOKS
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HOLD ON TO YOUR SEAT FOR THIS ONE
The Girl from Foreign
A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors, Lost Loves, and Forgotten Histories
by Sadia Shepard
July 31, 2008, Penguin
In this beautifully crafted memoir, a young Muslim-Christian woman travels to an insular Jewish community in India to unlock her family's secret history. Sadia Shepard grew up in a happily complicated family just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, her father a white Protestant from Colorado and her mother a Muslim from Pakistan. It was always a joyful home, full of stories and storytellers, where the cultures and religions of both her parents were celebrated and cherished with equal enthusiasm throughout her childhood. But Sadia's cultural legacy grew more complex when she discovered that there was one story she had never been told. Her beloved maternal grandmother was not the Muslim woman, Rahat Quraeshi, Sadia had always known her to be, but in fact was born Rachel Jacobs, a descendant of the Bene Israel, a tiny Jewish community whose members believe they are one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, shipwrecked in India two thousand years ago.
What was complicated had become downright confusing; Sadia was now intimately linked to the faiths of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity and the customs of Pakistan, India, and the United States. At her grandmother's deathbed, Sadia promised to begin the process of filling in the missing pieces of her family's fractured mosaic, and with the help of a Fulbright scholarship, she set off for Bombay. Sadia's search to connect with the Bene Israel community led her to discover more about India's tumultuous history and the haunting legacy of Partition, and she was forced to examine what it means to lose one's place, one's homelands, and one's history.
Weaving together humorous tales from her crosscultural childhood with an evocative account of a small Jewish community in transition, The Girl from Foreign is Sadia's poetic and touching attempt to reconcile with her past and help determine her future-when offered the choice, will she be able to decide between the religious and cultural identities that have shaped her? It is the stunningly written and unforgettably evocative story of family secrets, forgotten roots, forbidden love, and, above all, eye-opening self-discovery. Sadia
Sadia Shepard is a documentary filmmaker whose work on the Bene Israel community of Western India includes a photo-essay and documentary film, made possible by a Fulbright Scholarship and grants from the Jeremiah Kaplan Foundation and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Click the book cover to read more.
by Daniel Silva
July 2008, Putnam
The extraordinary new Gabriel Allon novel from the "gold standard" (The Dallas Morning News) of thriller writers. Over the course of ten previous novels, Daniel Silva has established himself as one of the world's finest writers of international intrigue and espionage- "a worthy successor to such legends as Frederick Forsyth and John le Carré" (Chicago Sun-Times)-and Gabriel Allon as "one of the most intriguing heroes of any thriller series" (The Philadelphia Inquirer). Now the death of a journalist leads Allon to Russia, where he finds that, in terms of spycraft, even he has something to learn. He's playing by Moscow rules now. This is not the grim, gray Moscow of Soviet times but a new Moscow, awash in oil wealth and choked with bulletproof Bentleys. A Moscow where power resides once more behind the walls of the Kremlin and where critics of the ruling class are ruthlessly silenced. A Moscow where a new generation of Stalinists is plotting to reclaim an empire lost and to challenge the global dominance of its old enemy, the United States. One such man is Ivan Kharkov, a former KGB colonel who built a global investment empire on the rubble of the Soviet Union. Hidden within that empire, however, is a more lucrative and deadly business: Kharkov is an arms dealer-and he is about to deliver Russia's most sophisticated weapons to al- Qaeda. Unless Allon can learn the time and place of the delivery, the world will see the deadliest terror attacks since 9/11-and the clock is ticking fast.
Filled with rich prose and breathtaking turns of plot, Moscow Rules is at once superior entertainment and a searing cautionary tale about the new threats rising to the East-and Silva's finest novel yet.
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