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Welcome to our pages of Winter2009 and Fall 2008 Book Suggestions. For our Home Page, Please visit MyJewishBooks.com
SOME SPRING 2009 BOOK READINGS
March 1, 2009: Celebrate the 150th Birthday of Sholem Aleichem. National Yiddish Book Center, Amherst MA
March 5, 2009: National Jewish Book Awards, NYC
March 6-7, 2009: Limmud FSU celebrates Sholem Aleichem with a keynote by Bel Kaufman, his granddaughter. The NY Synagogue, NYC
March 9, 2009: Slumdog Megillah. The NY Synagogue, NYC
March 18, 2009: Human Dignity As A Norm of Jewish Law. A lecture on Jewish Law with Dr. Gerald Blidstein, Cardozo School of Law, 6:30 PM, NYC
March 22, 2009: Torah for Troubled Times: Jewish Values and the Financial Crisis. Featuring Scott Shey (Signature Bank), Ace Greeberg (formerly Bear Stearns), Professor Michael Chernick (HUC JIR), and Shifra Broznick. Bank Bailouts of Joseph, Can You Pray for your 401K?, News Ways of Giving in lean times, and The Blame Game, Money and Scapegooating. Skirball NYC 3-6PM,
March 25, 2009: Limmud NY, Spring sampler, LimmudNY.org 7-10:30PM, NYC
April 08, 2009: The Blessing of the Sun: A mitzvah once every 28 years. Chabad USA 7:45 AM
May 28-31, 2009: Book Expo America, NYC
Aug 19-20, 2009. Tanglewood. Michael Tilson Thomas performs The Thomashefskys, a Yiddish piece in honor of his grandparents, the famous Yiddish impresarios.
From the co founder of Elat Chaim
Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life
Awakening Your Heart, Connecting with God
by Rabbi Jeff Roth
March 2009, Jewish Lights
Awaken your heart and mind to see your own capacity for wisdom, compassion, and kindness. "When we awaken to our own light, it becomes possible to develop real wisdom about our life. As wisdom allows us to see clearly, our hearts break open with compassion for the struggles of our own lives and the lives of all beings. Awakened with wisdom and compassion, we are impelled to live our lives with kindness, and we are led to do whatever we can to repair the brokenness of our world." -from the Introduction
At last, a fresh take on meditation that draws on life experience and living life with greater clarity rather than the traditional method of rigorous study. Based on twenty-five years of bringing meaningful spiritual practice to the Jewish community, well-known meditation teacher and practitioner Rabbi Jeff Roth presents Jewish contemplative techniques that foster the development of a heart of wisdom and compassion. This contemporary approach to meditation-accessible to both beginners and experts alike-focuses on using the distilled wisdom of Buddhism and Judaism as a way to learn from life experience. By combining these two traditions, he presents a model that allows westerners-both Jews and non-Jews-to embrace timeless Eastern teachings without sacrificing their birth traditions.
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AND FROM THERE YOU SHALL SEEK
by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Translated by Naomi Goldblum
This book is a translation of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's classic essay, _U-Vikkashtem mi-Sham._ Drafted in the 1940_s as a companion to his earlier treatise Halakhic Man, this powerful and wide-ranging work was published in Hebrew only in 1978. Drawing its title from Deuteronomy 4:29 _ _And from there you shall seek the Lord your God, and you shall find Him if you search for Him with all of your heart and all of your soul_ _ and framed by the evocative metaphors of the Song of Songs, the essay charts the individual_s search for God, a quest which culminates in the stage of devekut, cleaving to Him. The human being initially seeks God by examining the natural and spiritual worlds. But this search fails; hence God must reveal Himself and express His will. Rabbi Soloveitchik explicates the contrast between these two different modes of experiencing the divine: the natural consciousness, marked by freedom and creativity, and the revelational consciousness, marked by compulsion and discipline. The remainder of the work elaborates on this dialectic, exploring such themes as the imitation of God, devekut, mercy and justice, trust and fear, love and awe, the rule of intellect, elevation of the body, the perpetuity of God_s word, and creation and revelation. And From There You Shall Seek is Rabbi Soloveitchik_s fullest and most elaborate examination of religious consciousness and the dynamics of religious experience. Its presentation of the challenging interplay between cultural creativity, religious practice, and spiritual quest is sure to enrich the contemporary reader.
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Yes, Rashi was a Man and his commentaries were MALE, but these perspectives are "modern;"
The Modern Men's Torah Commentary
New Insights from Jewish Men on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions
Edited by Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin (Director of Kol Echad)
March 2009, Jewish Lights
What Rabbi Elyse Goldstein has done for women, Rabbi J. Salkin might accomplish for Jewish men. Salkin asks, HOW CAN WE GET JEWISH MEN BACK INTO SERIOUS, ENGAGING RELIGIOUS LIFE?
His answer is ...TORAH
A first-of-its-kind collection that will remind Jewish men of the power and promise of engagement with Torah and Jewish life. This major contribution to modern biblical commentary addresses the most important concerns of modern men-issues like relationships, What it means to be a father, son, husband, partner, lover; Balancing work, career, community, and family; avoiding burnout; the meaning of self-sacrifice as a man; How to reclaim the virtue of masculine patience in a hurried world; The meaning of materialism in our lives as men; Ethical struggles in interpersonal relationships; Men's health, body image and sexuality issues; Dealing with aging, fragility, death, and mortality as a man;
sexuality, ambition, work and career, body image, aging, and life passages-by opening them up to the life of Torah. It includes commentaries by the most creative and influential rabbis, leaders, and teachers in contemporary Jewish life, and represents all denominations in Judaism. Featuring poignant and probing reflections on the weekly Torah portions, this collection teaches readers how the life of Torah intersects with their own lives by focusing on men's issues that can be found within the text. Ideal for anyone wanting a new, exciting view of Torah, this rich resource offers new perspectives to inspire all of us to gain deeper meaning from the Torah and a heightened appreciation of Judaism.
Contributors include: Rabbi Howard A. Addison; Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson; Doug Barden; Rabbi Tony Bayfield, DD; Ariel Beery; Rabbi Joseph Black; Rabbi Mitchell Chefitz; Dr. Norman J. Cohen; Rabbi Mike Comins; Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff PhD; Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz; Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins; Rabbi Edward Feinstein; Rabbi Mordecai Finley, PhD; Wayne L. Firestone; Rabbi David J. Gelfand; Dr. Sander L. Gilman; Ari L. Goldman; Rabbi Daniel Gordis, PhD; Rabbi Arthur Green; Rabbi Steven Greenberg; Joel Lurie Grishaver; Rabbi Donniel Hartman, PhD; Rabbi Hayim Herring, PhD; Peter Himmelman; Rabbi Walter Homolka, PhD; Rabbi Reuven Kimelman; Rabbi Elliott Kleinman; Cantor Jeff Klepper; Rabbi Peter S. Knobel; Rabbi Harold S. Kushner; Rabbi Daniel Landes (Pardes Inst.); Rabbi Steven Z. Leder; Prof. Julius Lester; Rabbi Robert N. Levine, DD; Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler; Rabbi John Moscowitz; Rabbi Perry Netter; Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky; Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, PhD; Rabbi Daniel F. Polish; Dennis Prager; Rabbi Jack Riemer; Rabbi Stephen B. Roberts; Rabbi David B. Rosen; Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin; Rabbi Sidney Schwarz, PhD; Rabbi Rami Shapiro; Rabbi Charles Simon; Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz; Craig Taubman; Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman; Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub; Rabbi Avraham (Avi) Weiss; Dr. Ron Wolfson; Rabbi David J. Wolpe; Rabbi David Woznica; Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman; and Rabbi Daniel G. Zemel
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And Identity Though The Ages
By David Kraemar
This book explores the history of Jewish eating and identity, from the Bible to the present. It pays attention to Jewish eating laws (halakha) in each time and place, but also looks at Jews who eat like Romans or Christians regardless of the law. This book explores the history of Jewish eating and Jewish identity, from the Bible to the present. The lessons of this book rest squarely on the much-quoted insight: 'you are what you eat.' But this book goes beyond that simple truism to recognise that you are not only what you eat, but also how, when, where and with whom you eat. This book begins at the beginning - with the Torah - and then follows the history of Jewish eating until the modern age and even into our own day. Along the way, it travels from Jewish homes in the Holy Land and Babylonia (Iraq) to France and Spain and Italy, then to Germany and Poland and finally to the United States of America. It looks at significant developments in Jewish eating in all ages: in the ancient Near East and Persia, in the Classical age, throughout the Middle Ages and into Modernity. It pays careful attention to Jewish eating laws (halakha) in each time and place, but it does not stop there: it also looks for Jews who bend and break the law, who eat like Romans or Christians regardless of the law and who develop their own hybrid customs according to their own 'laws', whatever Jewish tradition might tell them. In this colourful history of Jewish eating, we get more than a taste of how expressive and crucial eating choices have always been. Dr. Kraemer is the Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary. In his scholarship, Dr. Kraemer is particularly interested in literary analysis of rabbinic literature, rabbinic ritual, and the social and religious history of Jews in late antiquity.
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THE LIFE WORTH LIVING
FAITH IN ACTION
BY BYRON L. SHERWIN (Rabbi, Spertus)
Over four decades ago, the pre-eminent Jewish theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel, warned of a "second Holocaust" - a spiritual genocide against Judaism that American Jews were perpetrating on themselves. By engaging in assimilation and secularization, he argued, Jews were losing their religious identity and, through it, their identity as a people. In Faith Finding Meaning, Byron L. Sherwin makes the case for a return to Jewish theology as a foundation for restoring Jewish authenticity and for reversing self-destructive assimilationist trends.
Rather than focusing on the abstract theological concepts presented by Judaism, such as the existence and nature of God, Sherwin shifts the center of the discussion to the quest for individual meaning. As more Jews seek to affirm Judaism as a faith, they are increasingly asking two questions: What is Judaism? How does Judaism address my quest for meaning? This volume constructs a portrait of the Jewish faith that is deeply rooted in both classical and modern sources of Jewish thought. Jewish theological thinking can be understood as a response to such visceral existential issues as living in a covenantal relationship, finding God in the world, approaching sacred scripture, and committing ethical deeds. Finding this sort of individual meaning through Jewish theology is, Sherwin argues, the viable path by which Jews in the contemporary world can maintain identity amid assimilation.
Faith Finding Meaning will engage anyone seeking a refreshing new approach to interpreting Jewish theology and a guide for faithful living as the Jewish people move into the future.
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THE END OF THE JEWS
BY ADAM MANSBACH
March 2009, Spiegel & Grau
From Publishers Weekly: The lives of a young Jewish man in the 1930s and a young Czech woman in the 1980s echo across generations in Mansbach's (Angry Black White Boy) continuing investigations into ethnic identity. Tristan Brodsky, the son of New York Jewish immigrant parents, is introduced to pre-WWII jazz and African-American culture by a City College professor who mentors him into a mostly successful, though often controversial, career as a novelist. Tristan's grandson and namesake, known as Tris, is a suburban teen in thrall to hip-hop culture who becomes a novelist himself. (Tris's writerly angst provides some of the funniest scenes in the book.) Then there's Nina Hricek, a talented young Czech photographer who is all but adopted by a touring American jazz group passing through Prague: the black band members affectionately dub her Pigfoot and insist that she must be part Creole. Nina becomes a sort of apprentice to the group's tour photographer. One night, when covering a gig at New York's Blue Note, she locks eyes with a man working at the club-Tris. Mansbach moves effortlessly between U.S. jazz clubs of different eras and Communist Prague, and his dialogue rings true. Believably eccentric characters and an inventive cross-generational plot make this novel of immigration's vicissitudes a delight. Click the book cover to read more.
HOW GOD CHANGES YOUR BRAIN
BY ANDREW NEWBERG, MD AND MARK ROBERT WALDMAN
March 2009, V
God is great-for your mental, physical, and spiritual health. That's the finding of this startling, authoritative, and controversial book by the bestselling authors of Born to Believe. Based on new evidence culled from their brain-scan studies on memory patients and meditators, their Web-based survey of people's religious and spiritual experiences, and their analyses of adult drawings of God, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, therapist Mark Robert Waldman, and their research team have concluded that active and positive spiritual belief changes the human brain for the better. What's more, actual faith isn't always necessary: atheists who meditate on positive imagery can obtain similar neurological benefits. Written in an accessible style-with illustrations highlighting how spiritual experiences affect the mind-How God Changes Your Brain offers the following breakthrough discoveries:
Not only do prayer and spiritual practice reduce stress and anxiety, but just twelve minutes of meditation per day may slow down the aging process. Contemplating a loving God rather than a punitive God reduces anxiety, depression, and stress and increases feelings of security, compassion, and love. Fundamentalism, in and of itself, is benign and can be personally beneficial, but the anger and prejudice generated by extreme beliefs can permanently damage your brain. Intense prayer and meditation permanently change numerous structures and functions in the brain-altering your values and the way you perceive reality.
How God Changes Your Brain is both a revelatory work of modern science and a practical guide for readers to enhance their physical and emotional health and to avoid mental decline. Newberg and Waldman explain the eight best ways to "exercise" your brain and guide readers through specific routines derived from a wide variety of Eastern and Western spiritual practices that improve personal awareness and empathy. They explain why yawning heightens consciousness and relaxation, and they teach "Compassionate Communication," a new mediation technique that builds intimacy with family and friends in less than fifteen minutes of practice. Unique in its conclusions and innovative in its methods, How God Changes Your Brain is a first-of-a-kind book about faith that is as credible as it is inspiring.
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THE MURMURING DEEP
REFLECTIONS ON THE BIBLICAL UNCONSCIOUS
BY AVIVAH GOTTLIEB ZORNBERG
March 2009, Schocken
From one of the most innovative and acclaimed biblical commentators at work today: a revolutionary analysis of the intersection between religion and psychoanalysis in the stories of the men and women of the Bible.
For centuries scholars and rabbis have wrestled with the biblical narrative, attempting to answer the questions that arise from a plain reading of the text. In The Murmuring Deep, Avivah Zornberg informs her literary analysis of the text with concepts drawn from Freud, Winnicott, Laplanche, and other psychoanalytic thinkers to give us a new understanding of the desires and motivations of the men and women whose stories form the basis of the Bible. Through close readings of the biblical and midrashic texts, Zornberg makes a powerful argument for the idea that the creators of the midrashic commentary, the medieval rabbinic commentators, and the Hassidic commentators were themselves on some level aware of the complex interplay between conscious and unconscious levels of experience, and used this knowledge in their interpretations. In her analysis of the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah, Abraham, Rebecca, Isaac, Joseph and his brothers, Ruth, and Esther-how they communicate with the world around them, with God, and with the various parts of their selves-Zornberg offers fascinating insights into the interaction between consciousness and unconsciousness. In discussing why God has to "seduce" Adam into entering the Garden of Eden or why Jonah thinks he can hide from God by getting on a ship, Zornberg enhances our appreciation of the Bible as the foundational text in our quest to understand what it means to be human.
NOTE: Publishes' Weekly's review of this book said it was "hard to read" and makes use of odd English words that may cuase you to run for a dictionary (or clikc for one). But you can decide for yourself..
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THE KINDLY ONES
BY JONATHAN LITTELL, translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell
March 2009, Harper
A literary prize-winning epic novel that has been a record-breaking bestseller in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, and is keenly anticipated in the English-speaking world.
The Kindly Ones won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award, as well as the Académie Française's Prix de Littérature. It has sold more than one million copies in Europe alone. The Kindly Ones is the fictional memoir of Dr. Max Aue, a former Nazi officer who survived the war and has reinvented himself, many years later, as a middle-class entrepreneur and family man in northern France. Max is an intellectual steeped in philosophy, literature, and classical music. He is also a cold-blooded assassin and the consummate bureaucrat. Through the eyes of this cultivated yet monstrous man, we experience the horrors of the Second World War and the Nazi genocide of the Jews in graphic, disturbingly precise detail. During the period from June 1941 through April 1945, Max is posted to Poland, the Ukraine, and the Caucasus; he is present at the Battle of Stalingrad, at Auschwitz and Cracow; he visits occupied Paris and lives through the chaos of the final days of the Nazi regime in Berlin. Although Max is a totally imagined character, his world is peopled by real historical figures, such as Eichmann, Himmler, Göring, Speer, Heydrich, Höss, and Hitler himself. Massive in scope, horrific in subject matter, and shocking in its protagonist, Littell's masterpiece is intense, hallucinatory, and utterly original. Critics abroad have compared this provocative and controversial work of literature to Tolstoy's War and Peace, a classic epic of war that, like The Kindly Ones, is a morally challenging read. Click the book cover to read more.
CITY OF THIEVES
by David Benioff
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.
FIVE MINUTES ON MONDAYS
Finding Unexpected Purpose, Peace, and Fulfillment at Work
by Rabbi Alan Lurie
Imagine the leaders of one of New York City's top real-estate firms coming together every Monday morning to hear...the moral and spiritual thoughts of a Rabbi. Imagine them returning, week after week...coming to eagerly anticipate those five minutes as a moment of uncommon peace in the world's most brutally competitive environment.
Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall? To hear the paths Alan Lurie traced for his listeners, how he helped them bring together their spiritual and business lives, the sacred and the profane? Five Minutes on Mondays compiles these talks for the first time, sharing Lurie's deep and profound inspiration on the challenges we all face-at work, and in life.
Lurie draws on millennia of philosophy, theology, and science to help us answer our deepest questions, comfort our deepest yearnings, and become better people-more connected to each other, and to the Greater Purpose. Prosper while keeping your integrity Balance faith, honor, and ambition Use your workplace as your moral and spiritual "gymnasium" Find deeper meaning and purpose in your work Face your fears and failures, and keep going
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CHOICES CHOICES... DO YOU GO TO SHUL FOR ROSH HASHANA, or the concert, or both?
UNDER THEIR THUMB
HOW A NICE BOY FROM BROOKLYN
GOT MIXED UP WITH THE ROLLING STONES
(AND LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT)
BY BILL GERMAN
PW: For 17 years, German recorded the comings and goings of the Rolling Stones in his fanzine Beggars Banquet; in this surprisingly lifeless memoir, he documents his relationship with the band. German's fandom with the Stones began when he was 12. When he heard songs like Bitch and Sweet Virginia, he was inexplicably hooked on the band's music, and he envied the DJs who got to play their music and the journalists who covered the band. By the time he was 16, German had decided to produce a newsletter devoted to his favorite group, printing the first 100 copies of Beggars Banquet on his Brooklyn high school's mimeograph machine in 1978. Although his classmates were unenthusiastic (they were more interested in disco and Saturday Night Fever than Exile on Main Street), the Stones and their management eventually became aware of German's efforts. By 1983, the Stones wanted to make Beggars Banquet the official fanzine of their fan club and stuffed the record sleeves of their new release, Undercover, with it. When the Stones' manager reneged on his promise of payment, German learned a hard business lesson and ended the arrangement, but he never lost his affection for the band. He chronicles his close relationships with Keith Richards and Ron Woods (with whom he coauthored a book) as well as his lukewarm relationship with Mick. Richards emerges from German's memoir as a sweet and loving guy, while Jagger appears an arrogant prima donna who has little time for his band mates or his family. Click the book cover to read more.
MAINLY ON DIRECTING
GYPSY, WEST SIDE STORY, AND OTHER MUSCIALS
BY ARTHUR LAURENTS
From Arthur Laurents, playwright, screenwriter, director-a mesmerizing book about theater, the art, the artist, the insider, the outsider-and the making of two of the greatest musicals of the American stage, West Side Story and Gypsy. It is a book profoundly enriched by the author's two loves, love for the theater and love for his partner of fifty-two years, Tom Hatcher, who shared and inspired every aspect of his life and his work. Laurents writes about the musicals he directed, I Can Get It for You Wholesale, its producer David Merrick (the "Abominable Showman"), and its (very young) stars Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould . . . He writes about Stephen Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle, which starred Angela Lansbury and Lee Remick, marking the debut for each in musical theater. He summons up the challenges and surprises that came with the making of La Cage aux Folles, the first big Broadway musical that was gay and glad to be. He writes in rich detail about his most recent production of Gypsy, how it began as an act of love, a love that spread through the entire company and resulted in a Gypsy unlike any other. And about his new bilingual production of West Side Story. And he talks, as well, about the works of other directors-Fiddler on the Roof; Kiss Me, Kate; Spring Awakening; Street Scene; The Phantom of the Opera; LoveMusik; Sweeney Todd. Moving, exhilarating, provocative-a portrait of an artist working with other artists; a unique close-up look at today's American musical theater by a man who's been at its red-hot center for more than five decades. Click the book cover to read more.
LIES WILL TAKE YOU SOMEWHERE
BY SHEILA SCHWARTZ
March 2009, Etruscan Paperback
In a voice reminiscent of Cynthia Ozick, this Jewish/Gothic novel renders the fracture and healing of the Rosen family. Jane Rosen leaves her three daughters and husband Saul, a rabbi, to care for her mother in Florida. In Jane's absence, Saul cares for the daughters, especially Malkah, who is troubled, and Saul discovers-through the deathbed confession of a man in his congregation-that his wife had an affair ten years earlier. Enraged, he ostracizes Jane from the family and strands her in Florida with her grief. At the same time, Jane is discovering more about her mother which was never known. As Malkah falls into depression, and Saul festers with anger, Jane gets deeper in a trap of problems and lies with the gardener.
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NOW IN PAPERBACK
DREAMS AND SHADOWS
THE FUTURE OF THE MIDDLE EAST
BY ROBIN WRIGHT
March 2009, Penguin
Wright explains the history and future of the Middle East from her perspective as a reporter for the LA Times and Washington Post and other media. Journalist Robin Wright has witnessed and reported on thirty years of Middle East politics and events. Her knowledge and personal contacts are woven into a substantial text that does not translate easily into an audio experience. Narrator Laural Merlington keeps her reading carefully neutral and changes her delivery style to distinguish dialogue from narrative. But Merlington's delivery doesn't quite match Wright's scholarly tone or savvy political analysis. Wright is sending a clear message about the United States' current occupation of Iraq, but Merlington doesn't deliver the message with the same force. Furthermore, the number of countries covered and sources quoted requires access to a map and to the extensive footnotes in order to make sense of the political picture Wright describes.
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A NOVEL OF JIHAD
BY JEFFREY FLEISHMAN
March 2009, Little Brown
From Kirkus Reviews: A debut novel set in Kosovo in the 1990s, from seasoned war correspondent Fleishman. Narrator Jay Morgan is a grizzled war reporter who in his career has seen enough violence--including the death of his photographer wife--to make him disillusioned and cynical. In Kosovo he becomes embroiled in the ferocity of ethnic hostilities ("Yugoslavia's unfinished chapter") between the Serbs and the Albanians. He links up with Alija, a beautiful young translator who's looking for her brother Ardian, a university student who disappeared months before. One of the first images of the novel sets the grim tone: Jay and Alija checking mass graves to see whether Ardian is among the victims. Both of them move uneasily among the brutal and brutish Serbs, especially the MUP, the Serb interior police. The MUP control the checkpoints and inflict daily violence on the towns and villages. The rebels, in contrast, occupy the mountains and use guerrilla tactics to destroy Serb soldiers and Jeeps before melting back into their hiding place. Jay has heard rumors of a mysterious, charismatic Muslim leader now living among the rebels and training them in tactics that include suicide bombing--or glorious martyrdom, depending on whose side the description is emanating from. (The "promised virgins" of the title refers to the ultimate reward of those willing to sacrifice themselves.) After much searching, and with help from those sympathetic to the rebel cause, Jay succeeds in having a brief and enigmatic interview with the shadowy figure known as Abu Musab. Jay has found out--though he keeps his knowledge from Alija--that among those Abu Musab is training in suicide tactics is Ardian. Fleishman, who is currently serving as the Cairo bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, writes in a telegraphic, staccato style, reminiscent of Hemingway and well suited to the stark realities he depicts. A harsh, impressive work Click the book cover to read more.
WELL... I WOULD NOT CALL IT THE HOLIEST UNIVERSITY....
A liberal Quaker among the Baptists
The Unlikely Disciple
A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University
by Kevin Roose
March 2009, Grand Central
No drinking. No smoking. No cursing. No dancing.
No R-rated movies.
Kevin Roose wasn't used to rules like these. As a sophomore at Brown University, he spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an a cappella group, and fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional. Liberty is the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals, his training ground for the next generation of America's Religious Right. Liberty's ten thousand undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101, hear from guest speakers like Sean Hannity and Karl Rove, and follow a forty-six-page code of conduct that regulates every aspect of their social lives. Hoping to connect with his evangelical peers, Roose decides to enroll at Liberty as a new transfer student, leaping across the God Divide and chronicling his adventures in this daring report from the front lines of America's culture war. His journey takes him from an evangelical hip-hop concert to choir practice at Falwell's legendary Thomas Road Baptist Church. He experiments with prayer, participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach (where he learns to preach the gospel to partying coeds), and pays a visit to Every Man's Battle, an on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. He meets pastors' kids, closet doubters, Christian rebels, and conducts what would be the last print interview of Rev. Falwell's life. Funny, respectful, and thought-provoking, THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE will inspire and entertain believers and nonbelievers alike.
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BY SUSAN GUBAR
March 2009, Norton
Comprehensive exploration of how Christ's betrayer has been portrayed throughout history. There are only 22 references to Judas Iscariot in the New Testament, notes Gubar (English and Women's Studies/Indiana Univ.). Despite this paucity of material, artists and writers over the centuries have repeatedly redefined and reinvented him. The author sets out to explore these many facets of Judas's identity by sketching his "evolving incarnations" during the course of 2,000 years. The range of attitudes is at times mind-boggling: Judas, Gubar shows, has been portrayed as everything from a dung-eating monster to the moral superior to Jesus himself. In an overly lengthy introduction, the author explains that she has identified five personae of Judas: "anomaly, pariah, lover, hero, savior." Each chapter explores one of these characterizations. During the Middle Ages, portrayals of Judas became increasingly demonic and disturbing; he is shown in art and poetry as a subhuman prone to vile and disgusting habits, or punished by eternal ailments and abuse of the most horrific kind. The Renaissance began to redeem Judas by focusing on his closeness to Christ in art depicting the kiss of betrayal and his inclusion at the Last Supper. Some modern writers and artists have offered even more favorable views; a few dubbed him the true savior of humanity. This was sparked in part by revulsion against Nazi propaganda, which Aryanized Christ and depicted Judas as the quintessential money-grubbing, hypocritical and untrustworthy Jew. Gubar compares her subject to figures as diverse as Oedipus and German anti-Hitler activist Dietrich Bonhoeffer, spotlighting imagery that reimagined Judas over the centuries as everything from a tormented sinner to a heroic rebel. The text's vast scope at times blurs its focus. Presenting "a kaleidoscope of perspectives," the author draws them together in a hasty summing-up ("Judas is our mirror") not adequate to the richness of her material.Impressive and wide-ranging, if somewhat scattershot. (Kirkus Reviews)
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NOW IN PAPERBACK
THE JEWISH MESSIAH
BY ARNON GRUNBERG
March 2009, Penguin
Mockingly irreverent and verging on the fantastical, Grunberg's satirical comedy featuring a contemporary messiah will amuse some readers and offend others. When Swiss teenager Xavier Radek meets Awromele Michalowitz, a rabbi's son, decides it is his life's mission to comfort the Jews to atone for their suffering. Idealistic and naďve to the point of foolishness, Xavier is a contemporary version of the Jewish folkloric character Gimpel the Fool. Never mind that his grandfather was a superzealous Nazi, and his mother thinks that You-Know-Who had the right idea in exterminating the Jews. Both young men acknowledge the erotic bond between them, first evidenced when Xavier undergoes a botched circumcision. As the action moves from Basel to Amsterdam to Tel Aviv in a series of farcical adventures involving violence, brutality, lust and jealousy, the novel reveals a world made up of bigots and complacent hypocrites. Grunberg's iconoclastic novels are bestsellers in Europe, where they have won numerous literary awards. He has a fine touch for the ridiculous and the macabre, but by the time Xavier becomes the corrupt prime minister of Israel and metamorphoses into a modern Hitler, this abrasive satire becomes an open wound. Click the book cover to read more.
The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible
by David Plotz
March 2009, Harper Collins
David Plotz was bored at a Bat Mitzvah. So he picked up a Humash, turned randomly to the story of Dinah and her brothers, and was shocked to read about her rape, the forced circumcision of her attacker and his tribe, and the mass murder of all of them as they lay in pain from their cuttings. Like many Jews and Christians, David Plotz long assumed he knew what was in the Bible. He read parts of it as a child in Hebrew school, then attended a Christian high school where he studied the Old and New Testaments. In this book, he decides to re-edit the Bible stories with a sense of humor
Many of the highlights stuck with him-Adam and Eve, Cain versus Abel, Jacob versus Esau, Jonah versus whale, forty days and nights, ten plagues and commandments, twelve tribes and apostles, Red Sea walked under, Galilee walked on, bush into fire, rock into water, water into wine. And, of course, he absorbed from all around him other bits of the Bible-from stories he heard in churches and synagogues, in movies and on television, from his parents and teachers. But it wasn't until he picked up a Bible at a cousin's bat mitzvah-and became engrossed and horrified by a lesser-known story in Genesis-that he couldn't put it down. At a time when wars are fought over scriptural interpretation, when the influence of religion on American politics has never been greater, when many Americans still believe in the Bible's literal truth, it has never been more important to get to know the Bible. Good Book is what happens when a regular guy-an average Job-actually reads the book on which his religion, his culture, and his world are based. Along the way, he grapples with the most profound theological questions: How many commandments do we actually need? Does God prefer obedience or good deeds? And the most unexpected ones: Why are so many women in the Bible prostitutes? Why does God love bald men so much? Is Samson really that stupid? Good Book is an irreverent, enthralling journey through the world's most important work of literature.
David Plotz is the editor of Slate. He is the author of The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank. Click the book cover to read more.
NASTY BRUTISH AND LONG
ADVENTURES IN OLD AGE OF THE WORLD OF ELDERCARE
BY IRA ROSOFSKY
March 2009, Avery
In nursing homes across the country, members of the Greatest Generation are living out their last days. No matter how exciting or mundane their lives, they're now occupying a hospital-style room-a public space where you can't lock your door and strangers come and go. Life is a succession of pokes and prods, medications, TV, bingo, and, possibly, talking to Ira Rosofsky. Nasty, Brutish, and Long is a candid, humane, and improbably humorous look at the world of eldercare. With a compassionate eye but mordant wit, Rosofsky, a psychologist charged with gauging the mental health of his elders, reveals a culture based not in the empathy of caretaking, but rather in the coolly detached bureaucracy of Medicare and Medicaid. A portrayal of what is increasingly becoming the last slice of life for many, Nasty, Brutish, and Long is also a baby boomer's poignant meditation on mortality, a reflection on his caregiving for his parents' final days, and an examination of the choices that we, as a society, have made about healthcare for the elderly who are no longer of sound mind and body.
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Holocaust Refugees in Cuba
by Margarita Engle
2009, Henry Holt
Grades 7 - 11
As in The Poet Slave of Cuba (2006) and The Surrender Tree (2008), both selected as Booklist Editors' Choice titles, Engle's latest book tells another story set in Cuba of those left out of the history books. In fluid, clear, free verse, two young people speak in alternating personal narratives. Daniel, 13, is a German Jewish refugee whose ship is finally allowed entry in Cuba after being turned away from both the U.S. and Canada. He longs to be reunited with his parents, who sent him away after Kristallnacht. Paloma, 12, discovers that her father is getting rich selling visas to refugees and then selling refugees to the Cuban authorities. She and Daniel help hide a Jewish woman and her Christian husband, who is suspected of being a Nazi spy. When adult narrators fill in background, the voices become diffused. But the international secrets make for a gripping story about refugees that becomes sharply focused through the viewpoint of the boy wrenched from home, haunted by the images of shattered glass and broken family.
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LIVES OF HITLER'S JEWISH SOLDIERS
UNTOLD TALES OF MEN OF JEWISH DESCENT
WHO FOUGHT FOR THE THIRD REICH
BY BRYAN MARK RIGG
March 2009, Kansas
Didn't he already write this book twice before??
Well this is an update with more tales
They were foot soldiers and officers. They served in the regular army and the Waffen-SS. And, remarkably, they were also Jewish, at least as defined by Hitler's infamous race laws. Pursuing the thread he first unraveled in Hitler's Jewish Soldiers, Bryan Rigg takes a closer look at the experiences of Wehrmacht soldiers who were classified as Jewish. In this long-awaited companion volume, he presents interviews with twenty-one of these men, whose stories are both fascinating and disturbing. As many as 150,000 Jews and partial-Jews (or Mischlinge) served, often with distinction, in the German military during World War II. The men interviewed for this volume portray a wide range of experiences--some came from military families, some had been raised Christian--revealing in vivid detail how they fought for a government that robbed them of their rights and sent their relatives to extermination camps. Yet most continued to serve, since resistance would have cost them their lives and they mistakenly hoped that by their service they could protect themselves and their families. The interviews recount the nature and extent of their dilemma, the divided loyalties under which many toiled during the Nazi years and afterward, and their sobering reflections on religion and the Holocaust, including what they knew about it at the time. Rigg relates each individual's experiences following the establishment of Hitler's race laws, shifting between vivid scenes of combat and the increasingly threatening situation on the home front for these men and their family members. Their stories reveal the constant tension in their lives: how some tried to hide their identities, and how a few were even "Aryanized" as part of Hitler's effort to retain reliable soldiers--including Field Marshal Erhard Milch, three-star general Helmut Wilberg, and naval commander Bernhard Rogge. Chilling, compelling, almost beyond belief, these stories depict crises of conscience under the most stressful circumstances. Lives of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers deepens our understanding of the complex intersection of Nazi race laws and German military service both before and during World War II. Click the book cover to read more.
THE FAILED MOSSAD ASSASSINATION OF KHALID
MISHAL AND THE RISE OF HAMAS
BY PAUL MCGEOUGH
March 2009, New Press
Little public notice was taken of a 1997 attempt on the life of the Hamas leader Khalid Mishal by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency-even though the audacious hit took place in broad daylight in the streets of Amman, and even though the bungled poisoning immediately set into motion a flurry of international diplomacy, culminating in the direct intervention of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Jordanian King with PM Netanyahu. A series of tense, high-level negotiations saved Mishal's life, as the Israelis reluctantly handed over the antidote. But Hamas was saved as well. With his new lease on life, Khalid Mishal became the architect of the Hamas organization's phenomenal ascendancy in the intervening decade. Israel, by attempting to kill him, helped Hamas gain credibility and win its war against Fatah for control of Gaza
Mishal orchestrated the deadly bombings on targets in Israel and, from his bunker in exile in the Syrian capital of Damascus, continues to pull in donations and support from the Islamic world while directing Hamas's vital social welfare programs. In a headlong narrative-with high-speed car chases, negotiated prisoner exchanges, and an international scandal that threatened to destabilize the entire region-acclaimed reporter Paul McGeough uses unprecedented, extensive interviews with Khalid Mishal himself and the key players in Amman, Jerusalem, and Washington to tell the definitive, inside story of the rise of Hamas. Paul McGeough is the former executive editor of Australia's Sydney Morning Herald and the author of three books on the Middle East. He has twice been named Australian Journalist of the Year and in 2002 was awarded the Johns Hopkins University-based SAIS Novartis Prize for excellence in international journalism. He lives in Sydney, Australia. Click the book cover to read more.
CROSSING THE HUDSON
BY PETER STEOHEN JUNGK
March 2009, Other Press
From Publishers Weekly A Viennese fur dealer confronts his lifes failures in this pleasantly bizarre novel from the author of The Perfect American. Gustav Rubin, a historian turned fur dealer, has returned from Europe to Manhattan to fetch his mother for a vacation at his lake house, but the trip goes awry at every turn, culminating in an epic traffic jam on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Lending a note of urgency is Gustavs need to arrive at his lake house by dusk; as an Orthodox Jew (a faith his mother neither shares nor much respects), he must cease driving before the Sabbath begins. Mother and son bicker and reminisce about Ludwig Rubin, the familys recently deceased patriarch, until Ludwigs gigantic body appears beneath the bridge, lolling in the Hudson River. Marveling at his fathers enormous presence as he and his mother hammer out the many disappointments of his life, Gustav becomes increasingly aware of his parents power over his life. An unusual and inventive work, Jungks refreshingly strange images give some air to the otherwise claustrophobic narrative confines. Click the book cover to read more.
Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way
A Comprehensive Guide for Candidates and Campaign Workers
by Jeff Blodgett, Bill Lofy, Ben Goldfarb, Erik Peterson, and Sujata Tejwani
University of Minnesota Press
As the 2008 presidential race dominates political discussion and media coverage worldwide, thousands of lesser-known local contests are being hard-fought in our neighborhoods, cities, and states. Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way is based on the work of Wellstone Action, a leading-edge progressive training center that has instructed thousands of political activists, campaign managers, and volunteers, of whom more than two hundred have gone on to run for office and win. Jeff Blodgett and Bill Lofy analyze the crucial lessons learned from many successful (and several losing) campaigns and demystifies what it takes to run for-and win-a political seat. This companion guide to Politics the Wellstone Way, the best-selling introduction to political action, features the in-depth knowledge that campaigns need to take energy and engagement to the next level-getting elected. With detailed and informative examples from progressive campaigns at every level throughout the United States, Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way combines grassroots organizing with political strategy, articulating a bold populist agenda. If you have ever considered volunteering for a political candidate, working for a campaign, or even running for public office yourself, Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way is the key resource you need to devise a sophisticated, progressive, and successful strategy and, ultimately, affect people's lives for the better.
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MY LIFE WITH SDS AND THE WEATHERMEN
BY MARK RUDD
March 2009, William Morrow
Growing up as the son of a career Army father, the grandon of immigrants, not only did the Holocaust hang like a cloud over Rudd's childhood, but he was shocked by the red-diaper kids he met as a freshman at Columbia. He had a heightened sense of justice, and had no plans to wear a freshman beanie when he arrived on campus. College was his true bar mitzvah, where he became a man by standing up for what he believed. He was a Jewish pisher from Philip Roth's New Jersey, wearing a blue blazer to class, reading history and biographies. He was ripe for a freshman identity crisis... or rebellion
Booklist writes: "With the war in Iraq provoking memories of Vietnam, Rudd gave up a 25-year silence on his role in the radical student movement of the 1960s when he lead the Weathermen. The group grew out of the Student for Democratic Society behind massive anti-war and social-justice protests at Columbia University. Rudd recalls his personal journey from idealistic freshman to student radical and the escalating violence that led to the riot during the 1969 Democratic party convention in Chicago and the bombing of a townhouse in Greenwich Village. Rudd spent seven years, from 1970 until 1977, living underground as a federal fugitive before turning himself in. Rudd writes from the perspective of a middle-aged teacher living in New Mexico, still concerned about social justice and heartened by the new administration and growing involvement of young people in politics and civic engagement. He admits shame and guilt about some of the excesses and violence of the radical 1960s, but maintains an enduring pride in the passion and idealism of the time. An engrossing look back at a turbulent time by an iconic figure." Click the book cover to read more.
A SEAT AT THE TABLE
BY JOSHUA HALBERSTAM (PhD)
Yes, the author's surname is Halberstam, as in Rabbi(s) Halberstam. He is a scion of that Boro Park rabbinical dynasty
A Seat at the Table tells the story of the young man, Elisha, who grows up in post-war Brooklyn in a family of Chassidim, a Jewish sect with one hundred thousand people in America. A cipher to most Amercans and even to most Jews who live blocks away, the movement's renaissance after near total extinction in the fires of the Holocaust is a remarkable achievement not only in Jewish history but for America as well. Elisha is a scion of the major Chassidic rabbinical dynasties, the Rebbes charged with nurturing the spiritual life of their followers. The novel depicts the profound - and largely unknown - social network of this resurgent, still traumatized community, into which Elisha is born. Every member is every member's responsibility: the sick and elderly are visited daily, the poor are fed and clothed, the unemployed given work, and the children taught in bustling Chassidic schools. The central, sustaining focus of this faith community is its devotion to the Chassidic mystical movement that originated in the Carpathian mountains in the eighteenth century. At the fulcrum of this voyage is Elisha's bittersweet relationship with his father, a Chassidic leader, Holocaust survivor, sophisticated and learned, determined to chart a course for himself, his family and community in modern America but confronted now with the stirrings of his son whom he loves with such devotion and anxiety. As Elisha explores the world beyond the closed and isolated Chassidic community, he presents the most difficult of all challenges to his father: he has fallen in love with a non-Jewish girl, Katrina, whom he met in college, an almost stereotypical "shiksa," a vivacious blond, from the heartland of the Midwest. She and her world are as foreign to him as he and his world are to her, and the two learn to navigate across their mutual planets, zigzagging between the promise of their relationship and its seeming impossibility. Elisha at first toggles between solace in her embrace and the tears on his father's face. But there are limits to tradition's tolerance, and Elisha must finally choose. His estrangement from his father becomes a bitter sore that festers and contorts his spirit. And it is, finally, the alien Katrina who shows him how to overcome alienation, how to recoup his sense of joy, how to make peace with his heritage and his father, how to reclaim his legacy. She will become his full partner as he returns to his waiting seat at the table.
Because this is a Chassidic novel, it is also a novel about storytelling itself. Chassidism teaches that a story is a form of prayer; Elisha's tales are his prayers both for and to his son. These fables (Chassidic legends translated from the Yiddish by the author) challenge and soothe Elisha - and the reader - as he forays into his new world. In the novel, he must somehow embrace and refashion these ancient legends to help him along his own, different path. Unlike the Chassidim of Chaim Potok's popular The Chosen, published forty years ago, the Chassidic world of A Seat at the Table has already taken deep roots in this country. And unlike that pioneering novel in which the lure confronting the protagonist was modern Orthodoxy, the alternatives in this novel are the far more enticing yet far more transgressive -- secularism and its pivotal values of individual choice and individual love. The conflict here is starker, the stakes more heartbreaking.
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A LUCKY CHILD
A MEMOIR OF SURVIVING AUSCHWITZ AS A YOUNG BOY
BY THOMAS BUERGENTHAL
FOREWORD BY ELIE WIESEL
April 20 2009, Little, Brown
Thomas Buergenthal, now a Judge in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, tells his astonishing experiences as a young boy in his memoir A LUCKY CHILD. He arrived at Auschwitz at age 10 after surviving two ghettos and a labor camp. Separated first from his mother and then his father, Buergenthal managed by his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck to survive on his own. Almost two years after his liberation, Buergenthal was miraculously reunited with his mother and in 1951 arrived in the U.S. to start a new life. Now dedicated to helping those subjected to tyranny throughout the world, Buergenthal writes his story with a simple clarity that highlights the stark details of unimaginable hardship. A LUCKY CHILD is a book that demands to be read by all. Thomas Buergenthal is a judge at the International Court in The Hague. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he served as the first US Judge and later, President, of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He has also served as a member of the UN Human Rights Committee. He has authored over a dozen books on international law, and is the subject of a biography, entitled Tommy, by the Norwegian humanitarian and UNICEF founder, Odd Nansen. Judge Buergenthal was also the co-recipient of the 2008 Gruber Foundation International Justice Prize. Click the book cover to read more.
ONE GIRL'S STORY OF SURVIVAL
BY CLARA KRAMER
April 21 2009, ECCO
Polish born Kramer, president of the Holocaust Resource Foundation at Kean University, was a teenager when she and her family hid in a secret bunker from Nazis. They were rescued by her family's housekeeper and her drunken husband, a reputed anti-Semite, who turned out to be an avenging angel. Her sister was turned in by a neighboring boy in exchange for some vodka. This is a vivid account of fear and survival. Click the book cover to read more.
JEWISH MUSICAL MODERNISM
OLD AND NEW
EDITED BY PHILIP V. BOHLMAN
FOREWORD BY SANDER L. GILMAN
2009, University of Chicago
Tackling the myriad issues raised by Sander Gilman's provocative opening salvo-"Are Jews Musical?"-this volume's distinguished contributors present a series of essays that trace the intersections of Jewish history and music from the late nineteenth century to the present. Covering the sacred and the secular, the European and the non-European, and all the arenas where these realms converge, these essays recast the established history of Jewish culture and its influences on modernity. Mitchell Ash explores the relationship of Jewish scientists to modernist artists and musicians, while Edwin Seroussi looks at the creation of Jewish sacred music in nineteenth-century Vienna. Discussing Jewish musicologists in Austria and Germany, Pamela Potter details their contributions to the "science of music" as a modern phenomenon. Kay Kaufman Shelemay investigates European influence in the music of an Ethiopian Jewish community, and Michael P. Steinberg traces the life and works of Charlotte Salomon, whose paintings staged the destruction of the Holocaust. Bolstered by Philip V. Bohlman's wide-ranging introduction and epilogue, and featuring lush color illustrations and a complementary CD of the period's music, this volume is a lavish tribute to Jewish contributions to modernity.
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FLIGHT FROM THE REICH
REFUGEE JEWS, 1933-1946
BY DEBORAH DWORK AND ROBERT JAN VAN PELT
April 2009, NORTON
A bold, groundbreaking work that provides the definitive answer to the persistent question: Why didn't more Jews flee Nazi Europe? Flight from the Reich is a story about people at a time of crisis. As persecution, war, and deportation savaged their communities, Jews tried to flee Nazi Europe through legal and clandestine routes. In their multifaceted tale of Jewish refugees during and after the Nazi era, Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt braid the private and public realms, personal memory and official history. They probe the challenges faced by German Jewish refugees; the dispute among the Swiss on allowing Jews to cross their border; the dangers braved by covert guides who helped the hunted out of occupied France; and the creation of postwar displaced person camps, which have much to tell us about refugee camps today. Grounded in archival research throughout Europe and America, hundreds of oral histories, and thousands of newly discovered letters, Flight from the Reich shows how the lives of people thread together to form history. Debórah Dwork is co-author of Auschwitz and Holocaust. Dwork, who lives in New Haven, is director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University. Click the book cover to read more.
THE SHAME OF SURVIVAL
WORKING THROUGH A NAZI CHILDHOOD
BY URSULA MAHLENDORF
April 2009, Penn State University Press
The Shame of Survival is a compelling memoir of a girl s experiences growing up in Nazi Germany that analyzes the life-long implications of Nazi indoctrination on a sensitive, thoughtful young woman. It shows how a reluctant, shy, frightened, and naĂÂŻve bdm member becomes swept up in Nazi ideology and documents the life-long psychic ramifications of living with that legacy: feelings of guilt and shame, a need to work through these experiences and to take responsibility for and mourn the past. Focusing on both class and gender, Mahlendorf s memoir offers a unique and valuable perspective on a growing body of emergent belated narratives on Nazi Germany by German academics. -Anna Kuhn, University of California, Davis
While we now have a great number of testimonials to the horrors of the Holocaust from survivors of that dark episode of twentieth-century history, rare are the accounts of what growing up in Nazi Germany was like for people who were reared to think of Adolf Hitler as the savior of his country, and rarer still are accounts written from a female perspective. Ursula Mahlendorf, born at the height of the Great Depression in 1929 to a middle-class family, was for a long while during her childhood a true believer in Nazism, the daughter of a man who was a member of the SS at the time of his early death in 1935-and a leader in the Hitler Youth herself. This is her vivid and unflinchingly honest account of her indoctrination into Nazism and of her gradual awakening to all the damage that Nazism had done to her country. It reveals why Nazism initially appealed to people from her station in life and how Nazi ideology was inculcated into young people. The book recounts the increasing hardships of life under Nazism as the war progressed and the chaos and turmoil that followed Germany s defeat. In the first part of this absorbing narrative, we see the young Ursula as she becomes an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth and then goes on to a Nazi teacher training school at age 15. In the second part, which traces her growing disillusionment with and anger at the Nazi leadership, we follow her story as she flees from the Russian army s advance in the spring of 1945, works for a time in a hospital caring for the wounded, returns to Silesia when it is under Polish administration, and finally is evacuated to the West, where she begins a new life and pursues her dream of becoming a teacher. In a moving Epilogue, Mahlendorf discloses how she learned to accept and cope emotionally with the shame that haunted her from her childhood allegiance to Nazism and the self-doubts it generated. Ursula Mahlendorf earned her Ph.D. in German Literature from Brown University in 1958 and spent the rest of her professional life teaching in the German Department and Women s Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara
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A HIDDEN LIFE
A MEMOIR OF AUGUST 1969
BY JOHANNA REISS
"The Dutch American author of the young-adult Holocaust novel The Upstairs Room (1972) recounts the unexpected, devastating suicide of her husband. Before she wrote her Newberry Honor-winning book based on her real-life story, Reiss resolved, at the urging of her American husband, to return to Holland and face her memories of that painful time. In the summer of 1969, she traveled to Holland, accompanied by her two school-age daughters. Intending to stay several weeks, she alternately visited her sisters, Sini and Rachel, and the Oostervelds, who sheltered Sini and the author for two-and-a-half years in their house in Usselo. Jim, Reiss' American husband of nearly 11 years, joined the family as planned after two weeks, and together they criss-crossed Holland. But Jim--a well-educated, non-practicing Jew from Philadelphia who worked at a retail firm in New York City, where the Reisses lived--seemed distracted and distressed, and his wife sensed 'something was off.' After returning home alone, he killed himself in their apartment off Second Avenue. The author, shocked and angry at what seemed a betrayal, rushed back to arrange a funeral. Reiss's recreation of this wrenching period is somewhat scattershot, no doubt reflecting her emotional turmoil. There are moments of strenuous clarity, such as when she and Jim returned together to the hiding room upstairs for him to hold her, 'to extinguish other people's heat that I'd been carrying around ever since the war,' though he stood oblivious, 'appearing undone.' The author attempts to make sense of his seemingly senseless death, yet the focus is narrow, the ending abrupt and the emotion still raw. Readers of this troubling account will be eager to rediscover The Upstairs Room." --KIRKUS
Johanna Reiss is the author of the classic young adult title The Upstairs Room, which Elie Wiesel praised in The New York Times Book Review as an "admirable account . . . as important in every respect as the one bequeathed to us by Anne Frank." She is the winner of the Newbery Honor, the Jewish Book Council Children's Book Award, and the Buxtehuder Bulle. She lives in New York City.
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BY JESSICA HANDLER
April 2009, PublicAffairs
When Jessica Handler was eight years old, her younger sister Susie was diagnosed with leukemia. To any family, the diagnosis would have been upending, but to the Handlers, whose youngest daughter Sarah had been born with a rare congenital blood disorder, it was an unimaginable verdict. By the time Jessica Handler turned nine, she had begun to introduce herself as the "well sibling;" and her family had begun to come apart. Invisible Sisters is Handler's powerfully told story of coming of age-as the daughter of progressive Jewish parents who move south to participate in the social-justice movement of the 1960s; as a healthy sister living in the shadow of her siblings' illness; and as a young woman struggling to step out of the shadow of her sisters' deaths, to find and redefine herself anew. With keen-eyed sensitivity, Handler's brave account explores family love and loss, and what it takes not just to survive, but to keep living.
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A FORTUNATE AGE
BY JOHANNA SMITH RAKOFF
April 2009, Scribner
From Publishers Weekly: Rakoff's debut novel is a ponderous, meandering and nostalgic portrait of a postcollegiate (OBERLIN) group of Gen-Xers awkwardly navigating weddings, pregnancies, betrayals and funerals in pre- and post-9/11 New York City. At the center of the group is Sadie Peregrine, a rising book editor who is having trouble reconciling her personal and professional ambitions. Rounding out her circle is Lil, a depressed and flailing scholar; Emily, a starving actress; Tal, a successful actor; Beth, a would-be English prof; and Dave, an enigmatic musician and Beths ex-boyfriend. The writing is episodic and relies heavily on exposition, and many character interactions and plot developments occur off the page and are referred to only indirectly. At her best, Rakoff offers a carefully studied glimpse into her characters minds. Too often, though, the large cast and the hopscotch chronology come at the expense of narrative tension, of which there isn't much. Thirty-somethings looking back wistfully on their 20s and their struggles with the vicissitudes of adulthood might get a bang out of this. Click the book cover to read more.
ALL OTHER NIGHTS
BY DARA HORN
April 2009, Norton
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. A Civil War spy page-turner meets an exploration of race and religion in 19th-century America in Horn's enthralling latest. Jacob Rappaport, the 19-year-old scion of a wealthy Jewish import-export family, flees home and enlists in the Union army to avoid an arranged marriage. When his superiors discover his unique connections, he is sent on espionage missions that reveal an American Jewish population divided by the Mason-Dixon line, but united by business, religious and family ties. After being sent to assassinate his uncle in New Orleans on Passover, Jacob's next assignment proves even more daunting: marry the feisty Confederate spy Eugenia Levy. What starts out as a dangerous game for both Jacob and Eugenia ends up being a genuine romance, fraught with the potential for peril, betrayal, tragedy and redemption. Horn propels the love story at a thriller's pace; the mix of love and loyalty played out in a divided America is sublime
From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com: On the eve of Passover in 1862, Jacob Rappaport finds himself "inside a barrel in the bottom of a boat, with a canteen of water wedged between his legs and a packet of poison concealed in his pocket." A Union soldier in New Orleans, Jacob has been ordered to murder his uncle, who his superior officers say is involved in a plot to assassinate President Lincoln. Killing Uncle Harry "would do honor to your race," they tell Jacob. In their eyes Jacob is first and foremost a Jew, tainted by his ethnic kinship with Judah Benjamin, the Confederacy's secretary of state. In the slam-bang opening pages of her superb third novel, Dara Horn masterfully establishes both a gripping plot premise and a fascinatingly conflicted protagonist. She sends Jacob roaming across a war-torn landscape to encounter a marvelous variety of characters, each imagined with empathy and depth. The relatively conventional storytelling here is quite different from the kaleidoscopic narrative techniques Horn employed in her previous books, "In the Image" and "The World to Come," but her scope is just as ambitious, her talents as prodigious as ever. The author sets up a complex web of metaphors by launching Jacob's torturous odyssey at Passover, the feast celebrating the children of Israel's liberation from slavery. Images of confinement and escape suffuse the text, and oppression is not a distant memory for immigrants from the Old World such as is his father. Yet Southern Jews see no irony in their support for a society that enslaves Africans. Jacob is appalled by their blindness, particularly after he observes a slave auction where a young couple cling to each other, pleading not to be separated. But he does come to some understanding of his fellow Jews when, while in flight from Confederate authorities, he takes refuge in a Jewish cemetery in Virginia. All his ancestors are buried in Europe: "He had grown up in a world without graves -- and in a land, he now knew, that wasn't yet fully his, unsanctified by death." Looking at gravestones stretching back over generations, he sees "the first Hebrew glory since ancient times . . . the glory of their finding their own promised land." That cemetery contains the forebears of Jeannie Levy, the Confederate agent Jacob has been sent to Virginia to marry and betray. For a writer who previously displayed little interest in traditional plotting, Horn goes at it with gusto here. An intricate chain of circumstances takes Jacob to Richmond, armed with a letter from the actor Edwin Booth (brother of future Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth) that enables him to gain the confidence of Judah Benjamin in the war's final months. The coincidences and fortuitous encounters might seem a bit much, but they work because they're enfolded in the compelling depiction of a man who goes astray and must decide if there's any way he can atone for his actions. Slavery is monstrous, Jacob is sure, and the society built on it is cruel and delusional.... CLICK THE BOOK COVER TO READ MORE
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BY AHARON APPELFELD
Spring 2009, Schocken
PW: Concentration camp survivor Appelfeld delivers a beautifully written, deeply disturbing tale of pilgrims en route to Jerusalem in pre-WWII Eastern Europe. Narrator Laish is a 15-year-old orphan employed by Fingerhut, a sickly and unpleasant "man of means." But when Fingerhut dies, Laish is forced to fend for himself among the pilgrims, finding work with the pious "old men" who teach him the Torah; Ploosh, a driver who kills one of the other members of the convoy; and Sruel, a former inmate who has a special connection with animals. As the journey wears on and the elements and sickness take their toll, the pilgrims reveal themselves to be a gallery of grotesques: they steal from each other, keep a mentally ill woman in a cage (and drive her out when she becomes too much trouble), sell one another out and are brutes in general. Appelfeld's gorgeous writing creates a stirring atmosphere, while Laish's observations and experiences illustrate some harsh truths about survival. Click the book cover to read more.
How did a Jewish woman become the mother of what Christians believe is god?
MOTHER OF GOD
A HISTORY OF THE VIRGIN MARY
BY MIRI RUBIN
April 2009, Yale
How did the Virgin Mary, about whom very little is said in the Gospels, become one of the most powerful and complex religious figures in the world? To arrive at the answers to this far-reaching question, one of our foremost medieval historians, Miri Rubin, investigates the ideas, practices, and images that have developed around the figure of Mary from the earliest decades of Christianity to around the year 1600. Drawing on an extraordinarily wide range of sources-including music, poetry, theology, art, scripture, and miracle tales-Rubin reveals how Mary became so embedded in our culture that it is impossible to conceive of Western history without her.
In her rise to global prominence, Mary was continually remade and reimagined by wave after wave of devotees.
Rubin shows how early Christians endowed Mary with a fine ancestry; why in early medieval Europe her roles as mother, bride, and companion came to the fore; and how the focus later shifted to her humanity and unparalleled purity. She also explores how indigenous people in Central America, Africa, and Asia remade Mary and so fit her into their own cultures. Beautifully written and finely illustrated, this book is a triumph of sympathy and intelligence. It demonstrates Mary's endless capacity to inspire and her profound presence in Christian cultures and beyond.
Little is said of Mary in the New Testament. Luke and Matthew give a long genealogy, so that Jesus can be said to have been born to the House of David. But stories of Mary's early life were written as later narratives, there are papyri versions datings as far back as 150 AD. By the Year 500, there were stories in Armenian, Coptic Syriac and other Near Eastern languages on what happened to Mary after the crucifixion. Some paint her as leading the ministry, others have her doing miracles, and some have her battling the Jews who harassed her son and her. The stories have her ascending to heaven instead of dying. Surprisingly, the Koran discusses Mary more than the Christian bible. The great part of this book is that it shows the European monasteries, these medieval places that were filled with boys torn from their mothers, who take up othe cause of Mary, and focus on her role as playful mother figure and consoler. In the 13th century, as the monastic orders go out to teach the masses of peasants, Mary is painted as the woman next door. Then with martin Luther and the Reformation, however, Mary's image was changed. She was not a saint or intercessor and had no power over death. In later Protestant movements, the role of Mary is even more lessened. Click the book cover to read more.
FRED ASTAIRE WAS JEWISH??
FRED ASTAIRE WAS JEWISH???
FRED ASTAIRE WAS JEWISH????
SO... Jews have rhythm?
PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ
FRED ASTAIRE AND THE FINE ART OF PANACHE
BY PETER LEVINSON
April 2009, St. Martin's
Fred Astaire defined elegance on the dance floor. With white tie, tails and a succession of elegant partners - Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse, Rita Haworth, Eleanor Powell, Judy Garland and others - he created an indelible image of the Anglo bon vivant. His origins, though, were far more humble: Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Fred Astaire came from Midwestern stock that partially had its origin in the late nineteenth century Jewish communities of Austria. At first, he played second fiddle in Vaudeville to his sister, Adele; however, once he learned how to tap and bought his first Brooks Brothers suit, the game changed. How did he transform himself from a small town Nebraska boy into the most sophisticated man ever to dance across a Mylar floor? In this comprehensive new book about the life and artistry of Fred Astaire, Peter Levinson looks carefully at the entirety of Astaire's career from vaudeville to Broadway to Hollywood to television. He explores Astaire's relationships with his vivacious dance partners, his friendship with songwriters like George Gershwin and Irving Berlin and his relationship with choreographers like Pandro S. Berman to discover how Astaire, in effect, created his elegant persona. Astaire put his mark on the Hollywood musical, starting his career at RKO and then moving to MGM and the famous Freed Unit. From his long list of films, certain classics like "Swing Time", "Top Hat", "Royal Wedding" and "The Bandwagon." revolutionized the presentation of dance on film; but, he also revolutionized the television variety special with the Emmy-Award-Winning "An Evening With Fred Astaire". For 'Puttin' on the Ritz", veteran Hollywood insider, Peter Levinson interviewed over two hundred people who worked closely with Astaire such as Debbie Reynolds, Dick Van Dyke, Artie Shaw, Bobby Short, Oscar Peterson, Mel Ferrer, Betty Garrett, Joel Grey, Arlene Dahl, Michael Kidd, Betty Comden, Onna White, Margaret Whiting, Andy Williams to provide an intimate window on to his professional as well as his personal life. His new biography of Astaire is a celebration of the great era of sophistication on Broadway and in Hollywood as seen through the life of a man who learned how to put on the Ritz and become America's premiere song-and-dance-man: Fred Astaire. Click the book cover to read more.
HOW TO WIN A COSMIC WAR
CONFRONTING RADICAL ISLAM
BY REZA ASLAN
April 2009, Random House
The New Yorker: "Aslan's thoughtful analysis of America's war on terror argues that the nation's jihadist enemies believe the conflict is taking place on a spiritual, "cosmic" plane and thus cannot be lost. Only by denying the terrorists their good-versus-evil religious narrative can the United States keep the war grounded and winnable. Certainly this is good advice, although, given President Obama's abandonment of his predecessor's Manichaean foreign policy, it may have been overtaken by recent events. Far more interesting is Aslan's agreement with Bush on the question of democracy. He distinguishes Islamist nationalist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah from global jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda, and contends that recognizing the former as legitimate participants in the democratic process will undermine support for unyielding war. It's an appealing, if unproved, claim." Click the book cover to read more.
Fame, Oblivion, and the Furies of Writing
by Steven J. Zipperstein, Stanford
April 2009, Yale
Born in Chicago in 1918, the prodigiously gifted and erudite Isaac Rosenfeld was anointed a "genius" upon the publication of his "luminescent" novel, Passage from Home and was expected to surpass even his closest friend and rival, Saul Bellow. Yet when felled by a heart attack at the age of thirty-eight, Rosenfeld had published relatively little, his life reduced to a metaphor for literary failure. In this deeply contemplative book, Steven J. Zipperstein seeks to reclaim Rosenfeld's legacy by "opening up" his work. Zipperstein examines for the first time the "small mountain" of unfinished manuscripts the writer left behind, as well as his fiercely candid journals and letters. In the process, Zipperstein unearths a turbulent life that was obsessively grounded in a profound commitment to the ideals of the writing life. Rosenfeld's Lives is a fascinating exploration of literary genius and aspiration and the paradoxical power of literature to elevate and to enslave. It illuminates the cultural and political tensions of post-war America, Jewish intellectual life of the era, and-most poignantly-the struggle at the heart of any writer's life. Click the book cover to read more.
A Jewish Writer Returns to the World His Parents Escaped
By Lev Raphael
April 2009, Wisconsin
Lev Raphael grew up loathing everything German. A son of Holocaust survivors, haunted by his parents' suffering and traumatic losses under Nazi rule, he was certain that Germany was one place in the world he would never visit. Those feelings shaped his Jewish and gay identity, his life, and his career.
Then the barriers of a lifetime began to come down, as revealed in this moving memoir. After his mother's death, while researching her war years, Raphael found a distant relative living in the very city where she had been a slave laborer.
What would he learn if he actually traveled to the place where his mother had found freedom and met his father? Not long after that epochal trip, a German publisher bought several of his books for translation. Raphael was launched on book tours in Germany, discovering not so much a new Germany, but a new self: someone unafraid to face the past and transcend it. Click the book cover to read more.
Rhyming Life and Death
A novel By Amos Oz. Translated from Hebrew
April 2009, Houghton Mifflin
An ingenious, witty, behind-the-scenes novel about eight hours in the life of an author. A literary celebrity is in Tel Aviv on a stifling hot night to give a reading from his new book.While the obligatory inane questions ("Why do you write? What is it like to be famous? Do you write with a pen or on a computer?) are being asked and answered, his attention wanders and he begins to invent lives for the strangers he sees around him. Among them are Yakir Bar-Orian Zhitomirski, a self-styled literary guru; Tsefania Beit-Halachmi, a poet (whose work provides the novel's title); and Rochele Reznik, a professional reader, with whom the Author has a brief but steamy sexual skirmish; to say nothing of Ricky the waitress, the real object of his desire. One life story builds on another-and the author finds himself unexpectedly involved with his creations. Click the book cover to read more.
VALLEY OF STRENGTH
A NOVEL BY SHULAMIT LAPID
April 2009, TOBY PRESS
This scenic, moving novel, set at the end of the 19th Century, in the Galilee, follows the life-altering trials and experiences of a pioneer woman in pre-state Israel. Fania, a 16 year old survivor of a pogram in the Ukraine, arrives in Israel with her uncle, her deranged brother, and her unwanted baby a product of rape. She meets Yehiel, a 26 year old widower and father of two. Fania moves in with Yehiel and throws herself into the life of a peasant woman, trying to squeeze a living out of the stony ground despite hunger and disease. Wearing Arab robes, she breaks into the male-dominated world of commerce, politics, and even defense. Click the book cover to read more.
NOT BECOMING MY MOTHER:
AND OTHER THINGS SHE TAUGHT ME ALONG THE WAY
BY RUTH REICHL
April 2009, Penguin
None of the women in Ruth Reichl's family were good cooks, neither her grandmothers nor her mother-the "Queen of Mold"-who was notorious in family lore for preparing the food that sent guests at her son's engagement party to the hospital with food poisoning. Yet, from early childhood, Reichl loved to eat and prepare food. That love has helped shape her life. Reichl joined Gourmet as editor in 1999 after serving six years as restaurant critic for the New York Times. She previously worked as food editor and restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times.
In this new book, Ruth Reichl examines her mother's life, giving voice to the universal unarticulated truth that we are grateful not to be our mothers. In Not Becoming My Mother, bestselling author Ruth Reichl embarks on a clear-eyed, openhearted investigation of her mother's life, piecing together the journey of a woman she comes to realize she never really knew. Looking to her mother's letters and diaries, Reichl confronts the painful transition her mother made from a hopeful young woman to an increasingly unhappy older one and realizes the tremendous sacrifices she made to make sure her daughter's life would not be as disappointing as her own.
Growing up in Cleveland, Miriam Brudno dreamed of becoming a doctor, like her father. But when she announced this, her parents said, "You're no beauty, and it's too bad you're such an intellectual. But if you become a doctor, no man will ever marry you." Instead, at twenty, Miriam opened a bookstore, a profession everyone agreed was suitably ladylike. She corresponded with authors all over the world, including philosophers such as Bertrand Russell, political figures such as Max Eastman, and novelists such as Christopher Marlowe. It was the happiest time of her life. Nearly thirty when she finally married, she fulfilled expectations, settled down, left her bookstore behind, and started a family. But conformity came at a tremendous cost. With labor-saving devices to aid in household chores, there was simply not enough to do to fill the days. Miriam-and most of her friends-were smart, educated women who were often bored, miserable, and silently rebellious. On what would have been Miriam's one hundredth birthday Reichl opens up her mother's diaries for the first time and encounters a whole new woman. This is a person she had never known. In this intimate study Reichl comes to understand the lessons of rebellion, independence, and self-acceptance that her mother-though unable to guide herself-succeeded in teaching her daughter.
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Thanks for Coming
One Young Woman's Quest for an Orgasm
by Mara Altman
April 2009, Harper Perennial
AT 26, Mara has had a lot of sex, but no orgasm.. She even worked in Thailand, the world's sex capital, where expats catch Chlamydia like it is drinking water. She even dated an attentive muslim from Mysore India, but to no avail.. no orgasm. The idea of female masturbation grosses her out.. This is her self focused story of trying to achieve an orgasmClick the book cover to read more.
A NOVEL BY JERRY STAHL
April 2009, William Morrow
From the acclaimed and controversial author of Permanent Midnight comes one of the most vividly subversive, savagely funny, and explosive novels yet unleashed in our tender century. Pain Killers is a violent and mind-wrenching masterpiece in the gonzo noir style that has earned Jerry Stahl his legion of avid fans. Down-and-out ex-cop and not-quite-reformed addict Manny Rupert accepts a job going undercover to find out if an old man locked up in a California prison is who he claims to be: the despicable-and allegedly dead-Josef Mengele, aka the Angel of Death. What if, instead of drowning thirty years ago, the sadistic legend whose Auschwitz crimes still horrify faked his own death and is now locked up in San Quentin, ranting and bitter about being denied the adulation he craves for his contribution to keeping the Master Race pure-if no longer masterful? After accidentally reuniting with ex-wife and love of his life, Tina, at San Quentin-they first met at the crime scene where Tina murdered her first husband with Drano-laced Lucky Charms-Manny spends a bad night imbibing boxed wine and questionable World War One morphine, hunched over a trove of photos showing live genital dissections that plant him in the middle of a conspiracy involving genocide, drugs, eugenics, human experiments, and America's secret history of collusion with German believers in Nordic superiority.
Manny's quest sends him careening from one extreme of apocalypse-adjacent reality to the other: from SS-inked Jewish shotcallers to meth-crazed virgin hookers, from Mexican gangbangers to Big Pharma-financed prison research to an animal shelter that gasses more than stray dogs and cats . . . Pain Killers captures one man's struggle against a perverse and demented scheme of global proportions, in a literary tour de force as outrageous, compelling, and dangerous as history itself. Not for the faint of heart, the novel hurtles readers into a disturbing, original, and alarmingly real world filled with some of the kinkiest sex, most horrific violence, and screaming wit ever found on the page-proving yet again that Stahl is, as The New Yorker described him, "a better-than-Burroughs virtuoso."
. Click the book cover to read more.
THERE SHALL BE NO NEEDY
PURSUING SOCIAL JUSTICE THROUGH JEWIHS LAW AND TRADITION
BY RABBI JILL JACOBS
April 2009, Jewish Lights
How can a Jewish approach to social justice offer positive change for America? Confront the most pressing issues of twenty-first-century America in this fascinating book, which brings together classical Jewish sources, contemporary policy debate and real-life stories. Rabbi Jill Jacobs, a leading young voice in the social justice arena, makes a powerful argument for participation in the American public square from a deeply Jewish perspective, while deepening our understanding of the relationship between Judaism and such current social issues as: Poverty and the Poor; Collection and Allocation of Tzedakah; Workers, Employers and Unions; Housing the Homeless; The Provision of Health Care; Environmental Sustainability; and Crime, Punishment and Rehabilitation
By creating a dialogue between traditional texts and current realities, Jacobs presents a template for engagement in public life from a Jewish perspective and challenges us to renew our obligations to each other. Rabbi Jill Jacobs is rabbi-in-residence at Jewish Funds for Justice, a national public foundation dedicated to mobilizing the resources of American Jews to combat the root causes of domestic social and economic injustice. Click the book cover to read more.
And from There You Shall Seek
by Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik. Translated from Hebrew
Published in Hebrew 3 decades ago, this is the first English translation.
Intros by David Shatz and Reuven Ziegler. The essay draws upon the Song of Songs. Click the book cover to read more.
The Seder Night
An Exalted Evening
The Passover Haggadah
With a Commentary Based on the Teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, known to all the the Rav, was one of the Torah giants and seminal Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century. For him, the Seder night was a magnificent experience, an exalted evening like no other in the year. Uplifted by the grandeur of the Seder, the Rav filled page after page of his writings and lectures with his extraordinary insights and brilliant analysis of its text, the Haggadah. In an attempt to convey the excitement and inspiration felt by the Rav on the Seder night, many of his most remarkable and penetrating commentaries have been collected in this Haggadah. It includes excerpts from his public lectures, from published works and unpublished tapes, as well as reconstructions of his lectures on the Haggadah and Pesah (the laws of Passover). The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening offers a glimpse into the originality and brilliance of the Rav s teachings as he uncovers new dimensions of meaning and significance in the Haggadah. The Rav taught the senior Talmud lectures at Yeshiva University s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary for close to fifty years, influencing thousands of students and molding generations of Jewish leaders for the Orthodox and broader Jewish community. His teaching at Yeshiva University, together with his many public lectures, published essays and leadership role in communal affairs, were a major factor in the vibrant growth of Orthodox Judaism in the United States. With his towering intellect and wide-ranging interests, the Rav was a unique figure who combined profound rabbinic scholarship and the ability to define how Torah Judaism could interact with, and confront the challenges of, the modern world. Click the book cover to read more.
WHY HE DIDN'T CALL YOU BACK
1,000 Guys Reveal What They Really Thought About You After Your Date
BY RACHEL GREENWALD
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JUDAISM DOES NOT EQUAL ISRAEL
THE REBIRTH OF THE JEWISH PROPHETIC
BY MARC H. ELLIS, Baylor University
April 2009, New Press
Edward Said said that Ellis is a brilliant, deeply thoughtful mind.
Noam Chomsky says he demonstrates great courage and integrity
This book is a challenge to Jewish support of Israel
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JOSEPHUS, MASADA, AND THE FALL OF JUDEA
BY Desmond Seward
In 66 CE, The Jewish revolted against Roman rule. Jospehus, a Jewish Jerusalem resident was made a general in the Judean army. He was captured by the Romans, and he endeared himself to emperor Vespasian. He was not killed, and became an advisor to his Roman captors. He believed that the Jews could only survive if they surrendered to Rome, and he ran a network of spies inside Jerusalem. He was the Jewish eyewitness to the Roman campaigns against the Jews.
He is our only source of information on the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Here is his story. Click the book cover to read more.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE BIBLE !
Stories by Jonathan Goldstein
April 2009, Riverhead
From a contributor to PRI's THIS AMERICAN LIFE, a collection of rewritten bible stories. Joseph writes about having a pregnant wife who was impregnanted by god or an angel. Jonah's brother Vito shares a story of guilt. David kills Goliath, but not for the reasons you think... Click the book cover to read more.
Orthodox Jews in America
(Modern Jewish Experience)
by Jeffrey S. Gurock
April 2009, Indiana University Press
Jeffrey S. Gurock recounts the history of Orthodox Jews in America, from the time of the early arrivals in the 17th century to the present, and examines how Orthodox Jewish men and women coped with the personal, familial, and communal challenges of religious freedom, economic opportunity, and social integration. His absorbing narrative portrays the varied lifestyles of Orthodox Jews and exposes the historical tensions that have pitted the pious against the majority of their co-religionists who have disregarded Orthodox teachings and practice. Exploring Orthodox reactions to alternative Jewish religious movements that have flourished in a pluralistic America, Gurock illuminates contemporary controversies about the compatibility of modern culture with a truly pious life, providing a nuanced view of the most intriguing present-day intra-Orthodox struggle - the relationship of feminism to traditional faith. Finally, the book exposes the hypocrisy of Jews who, while outwardly devout in their careful observance of religious ritual, have behaved as moral miscreants. Anyone seeking to understand the American Jewish experience will find "Orthodox Jews in America" to be essential reading. Click the book cover to read more.
SHALOM INDIA HOUSING SOCIETY
(JEWISH WOMEN WRITERS)
BY ESTHER DAVID
April 2009, Feminist Press
Over two thousand years ago, remnants of one of the lost tribes of Israel appeared on the shores of India. They became known in India as the Bene Israel and nothing has been the same since. After religious riots break out in modern Ahmedabad, a handful of the tribe's descendants band together to live in a communal housing complex: the Shalom India Housing Society. Nestled amidst their Hindu and Muslim neighbors, the residents of these charming apartments find ways to laugh (the laughing club meets every morning on the lawn) and love, whether it is a crush next door or an Internet date with a distant Israeli. Writing with wit and an artist's eye for detail, Esther David vividly portrays a resilient group who share a fondness for the liquor-loving Prophet Elijah and costume parties. These true-to-life stories depict the joys and conflicts of a people continually choosing between the Indian traditions of their homeland and their Jewish heritage. Esther David was born into a Bene Israel Jewish family in Ahmedabad, India, and she grew up in a zoo created by her father. She is the author of six novels and is also a sculptor, art critic, and columnist for The Times of India. Click the book cover to read more.
THE DANCE OF THE DEMONS
BY ESTHER SINGER KREITMAN (1891-1954)
Translated from Yiddish
April 2009, Feminist Press
"I do not know of a single woman in Yiddish literature who wrote better than she did." -- Isaac Bashevis Singer
"The reappearance of this novel will be welcomed by students of Jewish and Yiddish literature and 20th-century feminist writing. Summing up: Recommended. All levels." -- Choice
Kreitman's writing is clear, marvellously descriptive and occasionally evocative of ... her brother, Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer... A wonderful introduction by Ilan Stavans and comprehensive afterword by Anita Norich draw the parallels with Esther Kreitman's life and place the book in historical perspective." -- Jewish Book World
"Above all, the sheer story-telling skill of Kreitman's prose reminds us how past worlds are evoked through detail, practical reminders of daily lives and customs which no longer exist." -- The Jewish Quarterly
"[Kreitman] clearly has the same deep, haunting literary storyteller's gifts as her siblings." -- Lilith.
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JEWS, GOD, AND VIDEOTAPE
RELIGION AND MEDIA IN AMERICA
BY JEFFREY SHANDLER
April 2009, NYU Press
Engaging media has been an ongoing issue for American Jews, as it has been for other religious communities in the United States, for several generations. Jews, God, and Videotape is a pioneering examination of the impact of new communications technologies and media practices on the religious life of American Jewry over the past century. Shandler's examples range from early recordings of cantorial music to Hasidic outreach on the Internet. In between he explores mid-twentieth-century ecumenical radio and television broadcasting, video documentation of life cycle rituals, museum displays and tourist practices as means for engaging the Holocaust as a moral touchstone, and the role of mass-produced material culture in Jews' responses to the American celebration of Christmas. Shandler argues that the impact of these and other media on American Judaism is varied and extensive: they have challenged the role of clergy and transformed the nature of ritual; facilitated innovations in religious practice and scholarship, as well as efforts to maintain traditional observance and teachings; created venues for outreach, both to enhance relationships with non-Jewish neighbors and to promote greater religiosity among Jews; even redefined the notion of what might constitute a Jewish religious community or spiritual experience. As Jews, God, and Videotape demonstrates, American Jews' experiences are emblematic of how religious communities' engagements with new media have become central to defining religiosity in the modern age. Click the book cover to read more.
CONVERSATIONS WITH FRANK GEHRY
BY BARBARA ISENBERG
April 2009, Knopf
From Booklist: *Starred Review* Arguably today's best-known North American architect and certainly the most influential, Frank Gehry (born Goldberg), 80, continues to challenge everyday thoughts about what a building can become. His iconic art museum in Bilbao, Spain, has made every community yearn for a structure that can so instantly become a landmark. In this oral history, Isenberg converses with Gehry about his life and his groundbreaking aesthetic. Gehry describes his origins, his Toronto upbringing, his decision to change his surname from Goldberg, his stint in the army, his education at Harvard under the GI bill, and his encounters with other architects and artists who opened his eyes to new and wondrous possibilities. He credits Los Angeles' surging growth in the 1950s and 1960s for many of his innovations. He admits to prending to be humble prior to Bilbao; it was just a pose.
Born in Toronto, his Jewish family moved to LA when Gehry was 18. He studied at USC, which looked to the East to Asia, and not just to the European architecture forms. Illustrations bloom throughout the text. Gehry's drawings look like particularly inspired doodles. Photographs of Gehry in his offices and of his planned and completed structures help the reader visualize the physical ideas latent in the architect's articulate and disarmingly unpretentious discussions. Click the book cover to read more.
PS - In the book, Gehry is offended when questioned why he chnaged his name from Goldberg. Didn't Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier and Mies Van Der Rohe create their names as well?
How a Second Grader Beats Wall Street
Golden Rules Any Investor Can Learn
by Allan S. Roth
Spring 2009, Wiley
Investing is simple, but never easy. We carry a lot of investment baggage, including hot tips from friends and the financial media, as well as complicated financial recommendations from Wall Street "experts." Yet, the biggest obstacle we face is the tendency to outsmart ourselves. In order to overcome that obstacle, you need to follow straightforward strategies that will consistently push your portfolio ahead of the pack by an additional 3 to 4 percent annually. These are strategies that work in up markets, and especially in times of market crisis and panic. Most importantly, these strategies are basic enough for even a kid to understand. In How a Second Grader Beats Wall Street, you'll follow the story of Kevin Roth-an eight-year-old who was schooled in simple approaches to sound investing by his father, seasoned financial planner Allan Roth-and discover exactly how simple it can be to become a successful investor. Page by page, you'll learn how to create a portfolio with the widest diversification and lowest costs; one that can move up your financial freedom by a decade and dramatically increase your spending rate during retirement. And all this can be accomplished by using some commonsense techniques. Along the way, Kevin and his dad discuss fresh new approaches to investing, and detail some tried-and-true but lesser-known approaches. They also take the time to debunk the financial myths and legends that many of us accept as true and show you what it really takes to build long-term wealth with less risk. You'll also learn how not to confuse the unlikely with the impossible.
Whether you're young or young-at-heart, the straight-talking advice found here will help you:
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RHYMING LIFE AND DEATH
BY AMOS OZ
Spring 2009, Houghton Mifflin
From Booklist: In this work of precision satire, Oz, one of Israel's most prominent writers, portrays a prominent Israeli writer, The Author, and cannily mocks the celebrity status writers acquire. What does a writer know? Why trust him? Stories, after all, possess strange, even dangerous powers. This particular Author is enthralled by his rogue imagination. He's late to his reading at the "refurbished Shunia Shor and the Seven Victims of the Quarry Attack Cultural Center" because a waitress' derriere sparks his storytelling impulse, and soon the reader becomes wholly engrossed in her disastrous love affair. Finally onstage, The Author begins to make up stories about people in the audience, all the while wondering about the fate of the revered poet everyone insists on quoting. Hilarious and profound, Oz's tale of a mischievous tale-teller ponders the eroticism of stories and the mysterious ways language and literature bridge the divide between inner and outer worlds; and it helps us make some sense, however gossamer, of life and death. A slyly philosophical novel.
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The Confessions of Noa Weber
A novel by Gail Hareven and Translated from Hebrew by Dalya Bilu
Spring 2009, Melville House
From Publishers Weekly: Noa Weber is the complex narrator of Hareven's moving love story, the first of her works to be translated into English. In 1972, Noa is wrapping up her final exams and preparing to be drafted into the Israeli army when she meets a Russian student named Alek. They promptly sleep together, and Noa is transfixed by her paramour. She's helpless to resist her compulsive love and sexual addiction for Alek, and fantasizes about marrying him, even though she claims he doesn't love her. In fact, her love is so strong, it remains unwavering throughout various life changes and occupations-the birth of her daughter, Hagar; a stint in law school; and a career as an author of feminist thrillers-causing Noa to wonder if her love isn't part of some larger yearning. She's a likable character, and Hareven pulls off the difficult task of allowing the reader to evaluate Noa and Alek's relationship from both inside it and outside of it. This contemplative inquiry into the nature of love speaks across cultures and introduces a compelling new Israeli voice to English-speaking readers.
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THE AMOS OZ READER
BY AMOS OZ.
Edited by Dr. Nitza Ben Dov
Foreword by Robert Alter
Spring 2009, Houghton Mifflin
From Booklist: The son of a doomed storytelling mother and a citizen of a nation conceived as a lifeboat in a sea of genocide become a state that engenders statelessness, celebrated Israeli writer Oz is acutely sensitive to the paradoxes of language and the imagination. Bringing the same intensity of engagement and passion for poetic expression to fiction and nonfiction alike, he articulates the psychological complexity beneath the armor of Israel's bellicose politics and the tragedy of its geopolitical predicament. This well-organized volume reaches back to the 1960s, mixes genres, and showcases Oz's beautifully mythic prose. He vigorously dissects Israel's history, kibbutz life, and the unique ambiance of Jerusalem, the "gloomy capital of an exuberant state." Deeply attuned to "primeval hatred," the emotional valence of nature, the conflict between community demands and private dreams and sorrows, he writes with great insight about "identity and identification." Fluent in social matters, Oz finds meaning in the lives of individuals, each a cosmos of pain and love. Timely and illuminating.
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A TERRIBLE SPLENDOR
THREE EXTRAORDINARY MEN, A WORLD POISED FOR WAR, AND THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCH EVER PLAYED
BY MARSHALL JON FISHER
Spring 2009, Crown
Before Federer versus Nadal, before Borg versus McEnroe, the greatest tennis match ever played pitted the dominant Don Budge against the seductively handsome Baron Gottfried von Cramm. This deciding 1937 Davis Cup match, played on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon, was a battle of titans: the world's number one tennis player against the number two; America against Germany; democracy against fascism. For five superhuman sets, the duo's brilliant shotmaking kept the Centre Court crowd-and the world-spellbound. But the match's significance extended well beyond the immaculate grass courts of Wimbledon. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the brink of World War II, one man played for the pride of his country while the other played for his life. Budge, the humble hard-working American who would soon become the first man to win all four Grand Slam titles in the same year, vied to keep the Davis Cup out of the hands of the Nazi regime. On the other side of the net, the immensely popular and elegant von Cramm fought Budge point for point knowing that a loss might precipitate his descent into the living hell being constructed behind barbed wire back home.
Born into an aristocratic family, von Cramm was admired for his devastating good looks as well as his unparalleled sportsmanship. But he harbored a dark secret, one that put him under increasing Gestapo surveillance. And his situation was made even more perilous by his refusal to join the Nazi Party or defend Hitler. Desperately relying on his athletic achievements and the global spotlight to keep him out of the Gestapo's clutches, his strategy was to keep traveling and keep winning. A Davis Cup victory would make him the toast of Germany. A loss might be catastrophic. His secret was that he was gay, and that his doubles partner was a Jew. His lover was also Jewish. His doubles partner fled Hitler's Germany Watching the mesmerizingly intense match from the stands was von Cramm's mentor and all-time tennis superstar Bill Tilden-a consummate showman whose double life would run in ironic counterpoint to that of his German pupil. Set at a time when sports and politics were inextricably linked, A Terrible Splendor gives readers a courtside seat on that fateful day, moving gracefully between the tennis match for the ages and the dramatic events leading Germany, Britain, and America into global war. A book like no other in its weaving of social significance and athletic spectacle, this soul-stirring account is ultimately a tribute to the strength of the human spirit.
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Hold Love Strong
by Matthew Aaron Goodman
Spring 2009, Touchstone
From Publishers Weekly: Goodman delivers a commanding investigation of love, family and freedom set in a New York City housing project. Abraham Singelton, born in 1982 to a 13-year-old mother, comes of age in the Ever Park projects, watching The Cosby Show and dreaming about a future in Brooklyn as a Huxtable. The generous narrative features a cast of deftly drawn characters: Lyndon Gaines, a former boxer turned community activist who courts Abraham's grandmother with a cage full of lovebirds; Lindbergh, a damaged Vietnam vet, now turning trash into elaborate models of helicopters; and cousin Donnel, whose one constant is the pledge, made at Abraham's birth, to hold love strong. A keen observer and deeply empathetic young man, Abraham grapples with the inescapable truths of his childhood yet understands the promise contained in education, love and personal expression. Though the narrative features its share of urban fiction tropes (crack-addicted mother, an uncle with NBA potential doomed by the allure of quick money, a series of senseless deaths), Goodman manages to pull together a vibrant canvas of project life, perfectly capturing the pain and magic of living despite narrow opportunities. Click the book cover to read more.
BUILT BY ANGELS
THE STORY OF THE OLD NEW SYNAGOGUE
THE STORY OF THE ALT NEU SYNAGOGUE
BY MARK PODWAL, MD
April 2009, Harcourt
Ages 9 12
As legend tells it, the Old-New Synagogue in Prague was built by angels, and later was home to a golem who remains locked away in the building to this day. In lyrical prose, Mark Podwal shares the story of the world's oldest active synagogue, which was completed in 1270. Throughout the years, this sacred place of prayer and celebration has endured plagues, wars, and the Nazi regime. Its story is part legend, part history, and one that stands as a testament to the perseverance of the Jewish people. Includes an author's note and bibliography. Click the book cover to read more.
It Happened in Italy
Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust
By Elizabeth Bettina
One woman's discovery---and the incredible, unexpected journey it takes her on---of how her grandparent's small village of Campagna, Italy, helped save Jews during the Holocaust. Take a journey with Elizabeth Bettina as she discovers much to her surprise, that her grandparent's small village, nestled in the heart of southern Italy, housed an internment camp for Jews during the Holocaust, and that it was far from the only one. Follow her discovery of survivors and their stories of gratitude to Italy and its people. Explore the little known details of how members of the Catholic church assisted and helped shelter Jews in Italy during World War II. Click the book cover to read more.
MAY 2009 BOOKS
THE KOREN SACKS SIDDUR
A HEBREW/ENGLISH PRAYERBOOK, STANDARD SIZE
Edited by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, London
May 2009, Orthodox Union
The Koren Sacks Siddur is an inspiring Hebrew/English Jewish prayerbook. The siddur marks the culmination of years of rabbinic scholarship, exemplifies the tradition of textual accuracy and innovative graphic design of the renowned Koren Publishers Jerusalem publishing house, and offers an illuminating translation, introduction and commentary by one of the world's leading Jewish thinkers, UK Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks. Modern orthodox halakhic guides to daily, Shabbat, and holiday prayers supplement the traditional text. Prayers for the State of Israel, its soldiers, and national holidays, and for the American government and its military reinforce the siddur's contemporary relevance. Standard (Yehuda) size, Ashkenaz, with dark slate Skivertex hardcover binding. Ideal for synagogue use.
Rabbi Sacks does add a sprinkle of not just exclusively male gender language, but just a sprinkle.
The English translation, which is effective at helping one actually pray, is on the right margin side of each individual page, while the Hebrew is on the left margin. I invite you to visit the www.KorenSiddur.com webpage and load the actual sample pages to get a feel for the translation. Read the English of the Amidah and the Htazi kaddish and see if you find it easier to pray with than, say, the artscroll Orthodox Agudath style siddur.
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A JEWISH WOMAN'S PRAYER BOOK
BY ALIZA LAVIE
Spiegel & Grau, Winter 2009
A beautiful and moving one-of-a-kind collection that draws from a variety of Jewish traditions, through the ages, to commemorate every occasion and every passage in the cycle of life, including: Special prayers for the Sabbath, holidays, and important dates of the Jewish year; Prayers to mark celebratory milestones, such as bat mitzva, marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth; Prayers for companionship, love, and fertility; Prayers for healing, strength, and personal growth; Prayers for daily reflection and thanksgiving; Prayers for comfort and understanding in times of tragedy and loss; On the eve of Yom Kippur in 2002, Aliza Lavie, a university professor, read an interview with an Israeli woman who had lost both her mother and her baby daughter in a terrorist attack. As Lavie stood in the synagogue later that evening, she searched for comfort for the bereaved woman, for a reminder that she was not alone but part of a great tradition of Jewish women who have responded to unbearable loss with strength and fortitude. Unable to find sufficient solace within the traditional prayer book and inspired by the memory of her own grandmother's steadfast knowledge and faith, Lavie began researching and compiling prayers written for and by Jewish women. A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book is the result-a beautiful and moving one-of-a-kind collection that draws from a variety of Jewish traditions, through the ages, to commemorate every occasion and every passage in the cycle of life, from the mundane to the extraordinary. This elegant, inspiring volume includes special prayers for the Sabbath and holidays and important dates of the Jewish year; prayers to mark celebratory milestones, such as bat mitzva, marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth; and prayers for comfort and understanding in times of tragedy and loss. Each prayer is presented in Hebrew and in an English translation, along with fascinating commentary on its origins and allusions. Culled from a wide range of sources, both geographically and historically, this collection testifies that women's prayers were-and continue to be-an inspired expression of personal supplication and desire. Click the book cover to read more.
If you are visiting New York City this Summer, please visit the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side for the exhibit corresponding to the book below:
THEY CALLED ME MAYER
Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland before the Holocaust
By Mayer Kirshenblatt with his daughter, BKG (Barbara Kishenblatt-Gimblett)
THE MEDIA RELATION DEPARTMENT OF HIZBOLLAH WISHES YOU A HAPPY BIRTHDAY
UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTERS IN THE CHANGING MIDDLE EAST
BY NEIL MACFARQUHAR
May 2009, Public Affairs
The New York Times report's affectionate, irreverent portrait of the Middle East he has known since his childhood. Neil grew up in Libya. Despite all the bloodshed, he has sought out the warmth, generosity, and eccentricity of the Middle East. In this book, we meet the unsung pioneers. For example, a Kuwaiti sex therapist clad in leather, or a Syrian engineer who wants the Koran reinterpreted. Or a chef who is trying to reinterpret Arab cuisine.
From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com: Neil MacFarquhar is that rare and wonderful thing, a Middle East correspondent who not only speaks Arabic but also grew up in the region. This experience infuses his book -- the product of 20 years of reporting -- with the wit, insight and eye-rolling exasperation of a near-native. MacFarquhar maintains that "the constant, bloody upheaval that captures most attention has become the barrier limiting our perspective on the Middle East" and eschews the usual descriptions of violence and gore. Instead he offers a broad cultural and personal investigation into the region. The result is an intelligent and fascinating romp full of anecdotes, acid asides and conversations with everyone from dissidents to diplomats and liberal religious sheikhs, and even a Kuwaiti woman with a sex-advice column. Each chapter, set in a different country, illustrates a different facet of Middle East life: dictatorship, secret police, Islamic precept, the influence of Arabic satellite TV channels, reform, dissidence. Mercifully, the welter of facts and analysis which bogs down so many surveys of the contemporary Middle East is here kept brief and succinct. It's a testament to MacFarquhar's deep background knowledge and the lightness of his touch that complex issues like the relationship between the royal family and the religious establishment in Saudi Arabia, the Sunni-Shiite divide in Bahraini politics, the myriad ways Islam can be interpreted and the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon are distilled into clear exposition without ever being oversimplified or dumbed down. But MacFarquhar has written much more than just a very good primer to the region. His real achievement is to give the reader a window into the private debates among the intelligentsia and political classes of the Middle East. He uses the lyrics of the beloved Lebanese singer Fairuz to examine history and nostalgia from Beirut to Cairo and a bestselling cookbook as a springboard for a discussion about tradition and modernity. He addresses issues of censorship while watching a (very mildly) irreverent Saudi TV serial. Yet from Bahrain to Morocco, through Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Syria, Yemen and Egypt, the story remains depressingly the same: stymied reform and rulers governing, in essence, by proclamation without due process of law, relying on fear and their secret police. Despite the recent changes in leadership in many of the region's countries, MacFarquhar shows, the new rulers have proved only marginally less brutal than their predecessors. Despite this bleak picture, MacFarquhar, now the United Nations bureau chief at the New York Times, is a fun guide. ... Click the book cover to read more.
A mystery novel
By Keith Gilman
May 2009, Minotaur
Louis Klein P.I., ex Philly cop, gets a job from a woman, Sarah Blackwell, wife of his former partner, Sam, who wants Louis to find her missing daughter, Carol Ann Klein. The case leads to Philadelphia, where he finds himself in the middle of a Chinese drug operation. With this provocative debut, Keith Gilman joins the ranks of Private Eye Novel winners Steve Hamilton and Michael Koryta.
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THE LAST TESTAMENT
A NOVEL BY SAM BOURNE
May 2009, Harper
Bourne (aka Jonathan Freedland, a British journalist) has written a Jewish themed thriller. Maggie Costello, a disgraced U.S. diplomat, mediates the final Palestiniani-Israel peace agreement. But then Shimon Guttman, a rightist acedmic, is gunned down by accident when he tries to reach the Israeli Prime Minister during a peace rally (they thought he was an assassin). Costello musty therefore team up with Guttman's son to learn about Guttman's secrets and the information he had which can affect the negotiations. Click the book cover to read more.
A HEART AFIRE
STORIES AND TEACHINGS OF THE EARLY HASIDIC MASTERS
BY RABBI ZALMAN SCHACHTER_SHALOMI and NETANEL MILES-YEPEZ
May 2009, JPS
The latest book from the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement. The interpretations in A Heart Afire are as rich and meaningful as the teachings and tales themselves in this intimate guided tour of Hasidism and Hasidic storytelling led by Reb Zalman, an old-world Hasidic elder who is also profoundly connected to modern culture.
As a bridge between both worlds, Reb Zalman, and his student Netanel Miles-Yepez, introduce the reader to rare and unique translations of Hasidism with their own personal reflections on their meaning. This book gives the readers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of Hasidic wisdom and narrative and in the teachings of a modern Hasidic master. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, known as Reb Zalman, is the father of the neo-Hasidic Jewish Renewal movement. He was ordained by HaBaD-Lubavitch in1947, and later received his MA from Boston University and DHL from Hebrew Union College. He is professor emeritus of Psychology of Religion and Jewish Mysticism at Temple University and is World Wisdom Chair holder emeritus at Naropa University. He is the author of Spiritual Intimacy and collaborated with Miles-Yepez on Wrapped in a Holy Flame: Tales and Teachings of the Hasidic Masters.
Netanel Miles-Yepez is a teacher of Sufism and Hasidism and, with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, is the co-founder of the Sufi-Hasidic, Inayati-Maimuni Tariqat, the only Jewish order of Sufis in the world. He collaborated with Reb Zalman on Wrapped in a Holy Flame: Teachings and Tales of the Hasidic Masters and is the editor of The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue. He is also the executive director of the Reb Zalman Legacy Project. Click the book cover to read more.
HARRY S. TRUMAN AND THE FOUNDING OF ISRAEL
BY ALLIS RADOSH AND RONALD RADOSH
May 2009, Harper
On May 14, 1948, under the stewardship of President Harry S. Truman, the United States became the first nation to recognize the State of Israel-just moments after sovereignty had been declared in Jerusalem. But it was hardly a foregone conclusion that America would welcome the creation of this new country. While acknowledging this as one of his proudest moments, Truman also admitted that no issue was "more controversial or more complex than the problem of Israel." As the president told his closest advisers, these attempts to resolve the issue of a Jewish homeland had left him in a condition of "political battle fatigue." Based on never-before-used archival material, A Safe Haven is the most complete account to date of the events that led to this historic occasion. Allis and Ronald Radosh explore the national and global pressures bearing on Truman and the people-including the worldwide Jewish community, key White House advisers, the State Department, the British, the Arabs, and the representatives of the new United Nations-whose influence, on both sides, led to his decision. Impeccably researched, brilliantly told, A Safe Haven is a suspenseful, moment-by-moment re-creation of this crossroads in U.S.-Israeli relations and Middle Eastern politics.
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Do you remember getting a Hershey's Bar at Hebrew School as a child as a reward? Any book that starts out with a memory of that candy bar treat is a great read. Perhaps you hear dthe author with Ira Glass on This American Life...
GO ASK YOUR FATHER
ONE MAN's OBSESSION WITH FINDING HIS ORIGINS THROUGH DNA TESTING
BY LENNARD J. DAVID
May 2009, Bantam
Growing up, the author's parents would te;; their son, "Don't be like your Uncle Abie."
Every family has a secret. But what if that secret makes you question your own place in the family? Mixing equal parts memoir, detective story, and popular-science narrative, this is the emotionally charged account of one man's quest to find out the truth about his genetic heritage-and confront the agonizing possibility of having to redefine the first fifty years of his life. Shortly before his father's death, Lennard Davis received a cryptic call from his uncle Abie, who said he had a secret he wanted to tell him one day. When finally revealed, the secret-that Abie himself was Davis's father, via donor insemination-seemed too preposterous to be true. Born in 1949, Davis wasn't even sure that artificial insemination had existed at that time. Moreover, his uncle was mentally unstable, an unreliable witness to the past. Davis tried to erase the whole episode from his mind. Yet it wouldn't disappear. As a child, Davis had always felt oddly out of place in his family. Could Abie's story explain why? Over time Davis's doubts grew into an obsession, until finally, some twenty years after Abie's phone call, he launched an investigation-one that took him to DNA labs and online genealogical research sites, and into intense conversations with family members whose connection to him he had begun to doubt. At once an absorbing personal journey and a fascinating intellectual foray into the little-known history of artificial insemination and our millennia-long attempt to understand the mysteries of sexual reproduction, Davis's quest challenges us to ask who we are beyond a mere collection of genes. And as the possibility of finding the truth comes tantalizingly within reach, with Davis facing the agonizing possibility of having to reenvision his early years and his relationships with those closest to him, his search turns into a moving meditation on the nature of family bonds, as well as a new understanding of the significance of the swarms of chemicals that are the blueprints for our very human selves.
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The Ramen King and I
How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life
by Andy Raskin
May 2009 Gotham
Andy Raskin's uncle ran a Jewish deli in Brooklyn. Raskin grew up in Brooklyn and Long Island, and currently lives in San Francisco. In 1994, he got an MBA from the Wharton School and landed a job as a management consultant. He had lived in Japan in his mid-20s, studying Japanese and then producing whacky Japanese TV game shows, so his consulting firm sent him to Japan a lot, and on the side he would write stories for US business magazinesL Business 2.0 and Inc. In 1999, he founded a software company in San Francisco, and he was its CEO. In January 2007, MoMoFuKu Ando, age 96, passed away. He was the inventor of the instant ramen noodle. It was world news. Andy tried for three years to meet Mr. Ando; Andy was seeking advice for his love life. (How many Penn grads write to CEO's about cheating on girlfriends) The book tells the story of Raskin's struggle to confront the truth of his dating life, and how the inventor of ramen was his spiritual guru and guide. The story unfolds partly through honest, revealing letters that Raskin mailed to Ando. Raskin suffered from a Fundamental Misunderstanding of Humanity. He was a slave to his desires, and needed to learn to break free. Click the book cover to read more.
THE CRUCIAL YEAR
BY ALISTAIR HORNE
April 2009, Simon and Schuster
Sir Alistair Horne of Oxford acclaim brings readers back to 1973, the year of the Yom Kippur War, Nixon going on nuclear alert, a year of détente and becoming Secretary of State, the year that Watergate exploded and the year of the Nobel Prize. Plus, did I mention that Horne had full access to Kissinger and his papers and his archivist. Click the book cover to read more.
We Remember with Reverence and Love
American Jews and the Myth of Silence After the Holocaust, 1945-1962
By Hasia R. Diner
April 2009, New York University
An NYU professor of American Jewish history, Diner (The Jews of the United States, 1654-2000) sets out to refute what she contends is an accepted truth: that until the 1960s, American Jewry suffered from a "self-imposed collective amnesia" about the Holocaust. Diner marshals considerable evidence that American Jews were aware of the Holocaust and their culture was influenced by it, from their newspapers to youth movements, to whom speakers repeatedly invoked the Holocaust. They raised $45 million in 1945 alone to succor survivors in Europe. A 1952 commemorative Passover text from the American Jewish Congress was widely distributed and reprinted yearly in Jewish newspapers. Even Adolph Lerner's failed campaign to create a memorial in New York City demonstrates postwar American Jewish engagement with the Holocaust, Diner says. The 1961 publication of Yevtushenko's "Babi Yar" exposed both German barbarities and Soviet anti-Semitism. Diner's worthy, innovative, diligently researched work should spark controversy and meaningful dialogue among Holocaust scholars and in the Jewish community, but her vigorous defense of American Jews would pack more punch if she had devoted more space to the arguments she disputes. Click the book cover to read more.
The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler
By Anne Nelson.
April 2009, Random
In this inspiring account, noted journalist and playwright Nelson documents the wartime journey of Greta Kuckhoff, a young German, and her valiant colleagues who formed a potent resistance to the Hitler regime in its glory days. When Kuckhoff returned home from America in 1929 after university study, she joined with a band of young Communists, leftist Jews and other German antifascists to thwart the rise of Hitler at the risk of torture and death. Nelson explains in telling detail about the Nazis' tight grip on power after the 1933 Reichstag fire, eliminating all political foes, including Jews and other "non-Aryan" types, yet the Kuckhoffs, Mildred and Avrid Harnack, and other members of the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) fought fascist censorship, slid their people into Nazi ministries, helped Jews to flee and provided the Allies with vital information to aid the war effort. Nelson's riveting book speaks proudly of Greta, Mildred and all of the nearly three million Germans who resisted Hitler's iron will, and gives the reader a somber view of hell from the inside. Click the book cover to read more.
BY RAKESH SATYAL
April 2009, Kensington
Jhumpa Lahiri meets David Sedris. A 12 year old boy, Kiran Sharma, is in Cincinnati. He likes to wear his mother's makeup. He then realizes that maybe he is the reincarnation of Krishna, the gender bending Hindu god. He decides to model his life in junior high school after the life of Krishna. Click the book cover to read more.
THE JUMP ARTIST
BY AUSTIN RATNER
May 2009, Bellevue Literary Press
"A beautifully scrupulous, intricately detailed novel about joy and despair, anti-Semitism and assimilation, and like a great photograph, it seems to miss nothing, and to catch its subject in all his complexity."-Charles Baxter
Evocative psychological fiction based on the true story of renowned photographer Philippe Halsman, a man Adolph Hitler knew by name, who Sigmund Freud wrote about in 1931, and who put Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Life magazine. Surviving an episode that presages the horrors of WWII, Halsman transforms himself from a victim of rampant anti-Semitism into a purveyor of the marvelous. Click the book cover to read more.
The Story of a Business Philosophy
by Isadore Sharp, CEO Founder and Chairman of Four Seasons
May 2009, Portfolio
The founder of Four Seasons Hotels shares the philosophy and values that have made his legendary brand.
How did a child of Polish Jewish immigrants, starting with no background in the hotel business, create the world's most admired and successful hotel chain? And how has Four Seasons grown dramatically, over nearly a half century, without losing its focus on exceptional quality and unparalleled service? Isadore Sharp answers these questions in his engaging memoir, which doubles as a powerful guide for leaders in any field. He recalls the surprising history of his company, starting with its roots in his father's small construction business, which Sharp joined after getting a degree in architecture. Shifting into hotels wasn't easy, and he learned by trial and error. His breakthrough was a vision for a new kind of hotel, featuring superior design, top-quality amenities, and, above all, a deep commitment to service. Sharp realized that customers would gladly pay extra for a "home away from home" experience. But that would be possible only if everyone-from managers and supervisors to bellmen, servers, and housekeepers-was fully engaged. The front-line staff, who have the most contact with guests, can make or break a five-star reputation. Readers will be fascinated to learn how Four Seasons does it, year after year, in more than thirty countries around the world. Isadore Sharp is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels, Inc. He opened the first Four Seasons in Toronto in 1961, and the company now operates seventy-eight luxury hotels and resorts around the world, with more than twenty-five additional properties under development. He and his wife are prominent philanthropists. Click the book cover to read more.
TRANSFORMING AMERICA'S ISRAEL LOBBY
THE LIMITS OF ITS POWER AND THE POTENTIAL FOR CHANGE
BY DAN FLESHLER
May 2009, Potomac Books
The war in Iraq, the war on terror, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are among the most daunting foreign policy dilemmas of our time, and they are interrelated in a complex web of ideology, myth, and fact. When it comes to who influences American foreign policy on these issues, the Israel lobby--especially the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)--is thought to have an inordinate amount of power. Fans and detractors alike have overstated the extent of its power, according to Dan Fleshler, who puts it in perspective for the first time as only an insider can.
Why have American Jews--one of the most liberal communities in the United States--allowed hawks and neo-conservatives to define their global image? How did AIPAC and other right-of-center American Jewish groups convince most of Washington that, on issues related to Israel, they are the only American Jews of any political consequence? What can be done to counteract their influence and to give American diplomats more political leeway to press both Israelis and Palestinians to make the compromises necessary for peace? Fleshler is in a unique position to answer these questions; he does so here with cogent analysis, innovative thinking, and a surprising lack of polemics in such fraught, and usually partisan, territory. An American Jew, he advocates a Middle East policy that will help both Palestinians and Israelis awaken from their shared nightmare. Dan Fleshler is a media and public affairs consultant based in New York City. He is a member of the American Jewish Press Association and the Public Relations Society of America. A board member of Americans for Peace Now and of Ameinu, he is also a member of Brit Tzedek v' Shalom and a former media strategist for Israel Policy Forum. Click the book cover to read more.
THE SCENIC ROUTE
By Binnie Kirschenbaum
May 2009, Ecco Harper Perennial
It takes skill and assurance to pull off this beguiling narrative-by-digression, a love story-cum-family history-cum-confession of sins, and Kirshenbaum (An Almost Perfect Moment) has both in plentiful supply. A romantic affair begins in Fiesole when narrator Sylvia Landsman, an out-of-work, 42-year-old New York divorcée, meets debonair Henry Stafford, a Southern-born expatriate with expensive tastes and a good nose for wine. At the outset, Henry reveals that he is married to a rich woman who permits his lavish expenditures, and yet Sylvia-cynical, wry and imbued with Jewish guilt-dares to hope that Henry will be the man who changes her life. While the lovers enact a contemporary Two for the Road in his green Peugeot, Sylvia entertains Henry with stories about her eccentric family, meanwhile disclosing her own foibles and hang-ups-including some portents about betraying her best friend, Ruby. Sylvia segues from comedic quips to sad aperçus, and from cultural markers to historical vignettes, finally confessing the sin of omission that ended her friendship with Ruby. What's crushing isn't Sylvia's secret-it's how knowledge hasn't made her wiser. There are no happy endings here; instead, Kirshenbaum delivers capital-T truths. Click the book cover to read more.
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx
by Sally Koslow
May 2009, Ballantine
The circumstances of Molly Marx's death may be suspicious, but she hasn't lost her joie de vivre. Newly arrived in the hereafter, aka the Duration, Molly, thirty-five years old, is delighted to discover that she can still keep tabs on those she left behind: Annabel, her beloved four-year-old daughter; Lucy, her combustible twin sister; Kitty, her piece-of-work mother-in-law; Brie, her beautiful and steadfast best friend; and, of course, her husband, Barry, a plastic surgeon with more than a professional interest in many of his female patients. As a bonus, Molly quickly realizes that the afterlife comes with a finely tuned bullshit detector. As Molly looks on, her loved ones try to discern whether her death was an accident, suicide, or murder. She was last seen alive leaving for a bike ride through New York City's Riverside Park; her body was found lying on the bank of the Hudson River. Did a stranger lure Molly to danger? Did she plan to meet someone she thought she could trust? Could she have ended her own life for mysterious reasons, or did she simply lose control of her bike? As the police question her circle of intimates, Molly relives the years and days that led up to her sudden end: her marriage, troubled yet tender; her charmed work life as a magazine decorating editor; and the irresistible colleague to whom she was drawn. More than anything, Molly finds herself watching over Annabel--and realizing how motherhood helped to bring out her very best self. As the investigation into her death proceeds, Molly will relive her most precious moments--and take responsibility for the choices in her life.
Exploring the bonds of fidelity, family, and friendship, and narrated by a memorable and endearing character, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a hilarious, deeply moving, and thought-provoking novel that is part mystery, part love story, and all heart.
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From Paula Froelich, a NY Post gossip editor. Watch for a future animated tv show based on her life as a Jewish girl growing up in Kentucky in a convent school.
And now for something different
Mercury in Retrograde
by Paula Froelich (
Spring 2009, Atria
From Publishers Weekly: Three down-on-their-luck Manhattan women form an unlikely fellowship in Page Six deputy editor Froelich's formulaic-though sometimes funny-debut. Anxious socialite Lena Lippencrass, smalltown transplant-cum-intrepid reporter Penelope Mercury and high-powered lawyer Dana Gluck end up in the same former SoHo tenement building at low points in their lives: Lena, cut off by her wealthy parents, is slumming it on Sullivan Street; Penelope is out of a job after accidentally damaging her office's property; and Dana lives on Weight Watchers while obsessing over her divorce. But once they band together, they right themselves while helping each other. After an initial barrage of New York names and places (and an abundance of parenthetical asides), the novel eventually finds a breezy groove as it traipses through TV newsrooms, high-stakes partnership meetings and a fashion gala at the Met, leading to comically fitting results-and new love interests-for each. Froelich takes a few light shots at socialite Web sites, politicians in prostitution scandals, fashion magazines and drug-addled young celebrities, and the book's message of rejecting gossip and hierarchy is sweetly unexpected, even if everything else is by the numbers.
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Beverly Hills Adjacent
A novel by
Jennifer Steinhauer and Jessica Hendra.
May 2009, St. Martin's Griffin
Steinhauer and Hendra's debut casts a reproachful gaze on the television industry as hopeful actor Mitch Gold stumbles from audition to audition. It's pilot season, and as Mitch fails to land a role and his career woes burden his marriage, his wife, UCLA poetry professor June Dietz, begins to lose sight of tenure and catch the eye of a television writer. Though Mitch is affable and insecure, there's a predictable rhythm to his troubles: first, he auditions, then he panics. Hendra and Steinhauer are at their best when they stick to June, who is lovable and sympathetic: an amateur gourmet with a caustic wit and a longing for New York, she loves her daughter and despises the mommy politicking that runs rampant at preschool, providing a rich line of comedy as svelte mommies say they love cupcakes before cutting them into bits and spitting them out, and ostracize June for having a career. The marriage and Hollywood troubles will be familiar to fans of light Tinseltown fare, but the authors' sense of humor gives this book plenty of pep. Click the book cover to read more.
A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace
By Ayelet Waldman.
May 2009, Broadway
Having aroused the ire of righteous mothers with her confession to loving her husband more than her children, Waldman (Love and Other Impossible Pursuits) offers similar boldface opinions in 18 rather defensive essays. The mother of four, living in Berkeley and married for 15 years to an ideal partner who told her on their first date that he wanted to be a stay-at-home husband and father (he also happens to be novelist Michael Chabon), Waldman was a Jewish girl who grew up in 1970s suburban New Jersey, where her mother introduced her to Free to Be You and Me and instilled in her the importance of becoming a working mother. With her supportive husband to manage the domestic drudgery, Waldman did pursue a law career, until she quit to be with her growing family. As a champion of "bad mothering," that is, dropping the metaphorical ball-making mistakes and forgiving yourself for it-Waldman writes in these well-fashioned essays how a mother's best intentions frequently go awry: she really meant to breastfeed, until one of her children was bottle-fed because of a palate abnormality; she denounced the playing of dodgeball in her children's school, out of her own memories of schoolyard humiliations; and she confesses to aborting a fetus who suffered a genetic defect. Her determinedly frank revelations are chatty and sure to delight the online groups she frequents. Click the book cover to read more.
After the Party
Corruption and the ANC
By Andrew Feinstein
May 2009, Verso
Former South African Member of Parliament Feinstein delivers a damning portrait of the African National Congress in this lacerating political memoir. The author, who won a seat in the provincial legislature in South Africa's first democratic elections, affectionately recounts the tenure of Nelson Mandela as president, reserving his criticism for Mandela's successor, Thabo Mbeki, whom he excoriates repeatedly-and sometimes repetitiously-for his denial of the country's AIDS crisis and failure to exert political pressure on Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. The book's central narrative hinges on an investigation into an arms deal that revealed the depth of corruption in the Mbeki-led ANC. The text follows the investigation and the changing fortunes of the ANC through Mbeki's resignation in September of 2008, concluding at a moment of uncertainty for the country and the party. The author occasionally digresses from his compelling history of South African politics to reflect on his own Jewish-African identity and his philosophical approach to government-influenced by the writings of Vaclav Havel. Charged with passionate conviction, this book is a deeply personal but far-reaching insider's account of a political party losing its way. Click the book cover to read more.
Kidnapped and Other Dispatches
By Alan Johnston
May 2009, Profile
BBC correspondent Johnston really gets involved in the story in this absorbing collection of reports, originally for broadcast, from Gaza and other Middle East hotspots. In 2007, he was seized in Gaza by an obscure Palestinian militia and held for 114 days by moody guards who subjected him to death threats and occasional violence; he persevered with a determined, positive-thinking regimen and support from an international campaign. It's a tale that Americans who think of Gaza only as an incomprehensible hellhole might expect, except that Johnston embeds his ordeal amid nuanced, sympathetic reporting that makes the region's travails all too understandable. He introduces Palestinians and Israelis hardened in their hatreds of each other, observes families grieving over children caught in the crossfire and takes us to a beach where Gazans get a break from Gaza. Johnston includes dispatches from Afghanistan under Taliban rule, in which he elegizes Kabul's once vibrant university and dodges Taliban beard inspectors. And he reports from Central Asia on Samarkand's architectural splendors and Mongolia's undying nomad culture. These radio pieces are a bit slender and out of date, but they intimately convey the human reality behind the dire headlines. Photos Click the book cover to read more.
The Food of a Younger Land
A Portrait of American Food-Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation's Food Was Seasonal, Regional, and Traditional-from the Lost WPA Files
by Mark Kurlansky.
May 2009, Riverhead
A genuine culinary and historical keepsake: in the late 1930s the WPA farmed out a writing project with the ambition of other New Deal programs: an encyclopedia of American food and food traditions from coast-to-coast similar to the federal travel guides. After Pearl Harbor, the war effort halted the project for good; the book was never published, and the files were archived in the Library of Congress. Food historian Kurlansky (Cod; The Big Oyster) brought the unassembled materials to light and created this version of the guide that never was. In his abridged yet remarkable version, he presents what some of the thousands of writers (among them Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston and Nelson Algren) found: America, its food, its people and its culture, at the precise moment when modernism and progress were kicking into gear. Adhering to the administrators' original organization, the book divides regionally; within each section are entries as specific as "A California Grunion Fry," and as general and historical as the one on "Sioux and Chippewa Food." Though we've become a fast-food nation, this extraordinary collection-at once history, anthropology, cookbook, almanac and family album-provides a vivid and revitalizing sense of the rural and regional characteristics and distinctions that we've lost and can find again here. Click the book cover to read more.
THE RED SQUAD
BY E. M. BRONNER
May 2009, Pantheon
From Booklist: The arrival of an envelope, mailed anonymously, forces Professor Anka Pappas to recall the "thrilling and terrible time" when she and five mismatched colleagues taught English composition in a Detroit university and occupied a shared office known as the Bullpen. The envelope's contents show that she and other Bullpenners were under surveillance for antiwar activities during the late 1960s. The Red Squad is an insightful, affecting, and often funny tale of higher education, as seen by "academic Okies"-adjunct faculty-struggling to finish their PhDs while America was engaged in another war disapproved of by many and enduring ham-handed repression of dissent. It's also an engaging tale of a small group of lonely young people whose shared experiences bind them for a lifetime. Broner's writing is concise yet pithy, as she limns Anka's interest in fellow Bullpenner Kevin, a Jesuit seeking release from his priestly vows, and charts the decline of Detroit. This is one of those books that will grow in readers' estimation long after they've finished reading
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THENTIETH CENTURY TRACK & FIELD AND THE MELTING POT
BY ALAN S. KATCHEN
Spring 2009, Syracuse
Abel Kiviat (1892-1991) was one of track and field's legendary personalities, a world record-holder and Olympic medalist in the metric mile. A teenage prodigy, he defeated Hall of Fame runners before his twentieth birthday. Alan S. Katchen brings Kiviat's fascinating story to life and re-creates a lost world, when track and field was at the height of its popularity and occupying a central place in America's sporting world. The oldest of seven children of Moishe and Zelda Kiviat, Jewish immigrants from Poland, Abel competed as "the Hebrew runner" for New York's famed Irish-American Athletic Club and was elected its captain. Katchen's engaging biography centers Abel Kiviat's life and his sport firmly in the context of American social history. As a quintessential New Yorker, Kiviat embodies the urban and ethnic roots of American track. From his first schoolboy competitions on city playgrounds, to his world records at Madison Square Garden, to his pioneering role as track's press steward in the age of emerging media, Kiviat's life reveals how his sport was shaped by the culture of the emerging metropolis. New York City is not only the setting for these developments but also a subject of the book. The narration is enriched with brief portraits of celebrated track athletes including Kiviat's Olympic roommate, Jim Thorpe. In addition, Katchen offers a detailed account of the I-AAC's evolution, including its close ties to the Tammany Hall political machine, and sheds light on the rapid modernization of the sport and the ways it provided a vehicle for the assimilation of working-class, immigrant athletes. Finally, Katchen explores the social origins of the ideology of amateurism and its devastating impact on Kiviat's career.
Kiviat died at ninety-nine, just months short of carrying the torch for the opening ceremonies of the Barcelona Olympics. Abel Kiviat, National Champion pays tribute to a remarkable athlete and the sport during its most dynamic and celebrated era.
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AND THE DREAM OF PALESTINE
AN INSIDER'S ACCOUNT
BY BASSAM ABU SHARIF, Terrorist and Author
May 2009, Palgrave MacMillan
From the cover: Bassam Abu Sharif was one of the most notorious and dangerous terrorists in the sixties and seventies, acting as "minister of propaganda" for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and as a recruiter for terrorists (including Carlos the Jackal). In 1972, a bomb was placed in a book (the memoirs of Che Guevara) and sent to him, leaving him half-blind, deaf in one ear, and almost fingerless. He later became one of Arafat's closest advisers and one of the minds behind the Oslo Peace Treaty between Israel and the PLO. This is his first-hand account of the inner-working of Arafat's regime, the PLO, Fatah and the relationship that allowed Abu Sharif to encourage important strides toward peace. In taking readers behind the scenes of all the major events in thirty years of Middle East politics, Abu Sharif delivers a unique living history of Palestine.
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GERMAN FOR TRAVELLERS
A NOVEL IN 95 LESSONS
BY NORA LABINER
May 2009, Coffee House Press
From Publishers Weekly: Labiner (Miniatures) delves into the life of Dr. Jozef Apfel, a renowned German psychoanalyst who never solved the mysterious case of his patient, Elsa Z, in the years leading up to WWII. A few generations later, the doctor's Jewish descendants are scattered across America: Hollywood starlet Lemon Leopold; her psychiatrist brother, Ben; their romance novelist cousin, Eliza. When Eliza is summoned to Berlin by a distant aunt to delve into the family's past, Lemon comes along and winds up finding meaning in her life. Elsa Z's traumas are mirrored by the sorrows of generations of Apfel women, most notably Eliza, whose own recent past is entangled with Berlin. Labiner toys with both psychoanalysis and its history: Elsa Z's hysteria is reminiscent of Freud's Dora (she even has her own Herr K), and Dr. Apfel's triangular seduction theory ends up causing problems in his own love life. But while this intricate family saga has definite potential, it's thrown off course by the novel's frustrating structure, where seemingly random chapters devolve into pseudo-existential travel advice and Labiner's heavy-handed poetic intentions.
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JUNE 2009 BOOKS
The Shocking Demise of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street
by Kate Kelly
June 2009, Portfolio
A WSJ reporter reports on the downfall of this firm. Click the book cover to read more.
THE RISE AND FALL OF BEAR STEARNS
BY ALAN "ACE" GREENBERG
June 2009, Simon and Schuster
Tell all, or tell what he wants to tell, by the firm's former CEO. Click the book cover to read more.
REPEAT AFTER ME
BY RACHEL DeWOSKIN
June 2009, Overlook Press
Rachel DeWoskin is a writer who has been lauded for her "razor-sharp descriptions" (The Wall Street Journal), her considerable cultural and linguistic resources" (The New Yorker), and her rare ability to offer a "real insider's look at life in modern China" (The Economist). Now DeWoskin, author of the laughout-loud funny and poignant Foreign Babes in Beijing, returns with a new novel about modern China and one American girl's struggle to find herself there.
Aysha is a twenty-two-year-old New Yorker putting the pieces of her life back in place after her parents' divorce and her own nervous breakdown when a young Chinese student named Da Ge flips her world upside-down. In a love story that spans decades and continents, from the Tiananmen Square incident to 9/11, New York City's Upper West Side to the terraced mountains of South China, Repeat After Me gives readers an alternately funny and painful glimpse of life and loss in between languages. Click the book cover to read more.
NOW IN PAPERBACK
LORDS OF THE LAND
THE WAR OVER ISRAEL'S SETTLEMENTS IN
THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES, 1967-2007
BY IDITH ZERTAIL and AKIVA ELDAR
June 2009, Nation Books
Zertal will work at NYU in 2009, and Eldar writes for Ha'aretz. A bestseller in Israel and translated into over half-a-dozen languages, this highly-acclaimed book is the definitive history of the settlements in Israel. The 1967 Arab-Israeli War, a brief battle whose effects was a devastating triumph for Israel, which immediately began to establish settlements in the newly conquered territories. These settlements and the movement that made them possible, have utterly transformed Israel, and yet until now the full history of the occupation has never been told. An international bestseller, "Lords of the Land" is the first book to tell that tragic story, revealing what a catastrophe it has been for both Israel and the Palestinians.Based on years of research, and written by one of Israel's leading historians and one of its best-known journalists, this compelling narrative focuses on the settlers themselves - their messianic religious zeal, their politics and their cult of death. It shows also how they were inspired and empowered by the earlier, secular Zionist movement, and it demonstrates the deep involvement of the State of Israel and its most sacred institutions in this illegal endeavour. Click the book cover to read more.
NOW IN PAPERBACK
NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD WINNER
The paperback comes with a reading group guide and Author Q&A
SONGS FOR THE BUTCHER'S DAUGHTER
BY PETER MANSEAU
June 2009, Free Press
From Publishers Weekly: Known for Vows, his memoir of growing up the son of a former priest and nun, Manseau uses an alter ego to tell the story of fictional Yiddish poet Itsik Malpesh, born in the Moldovan city of Kishinev in 1903. Itsik's story is told through his Yiddish memoirs, which he helps a young American Catholic (working, like Manseau once did, as a Yiddish archivist) translate. Inspired by the image of Sasha, the brave butcher's daughter who was present at his birth, Itsik reaches America in young adulthood through haphazard luck, a taste for troublemaking and the inventiveness of a printer. Sasha continually inspires and confounds Itsik throughout his life, becoming an apt symbol for Yiddish humor, sorrow and idealism. As Itsik's darkly picaresque immigrant narrative unfolds, it competes with the translator's modern romance and with insights into the art of translation and the history of Yiddish. Occasional narrative missteps are not enough to undercut this rich, often ironic homage to Yiddish culture and language. Click the book cover to read more.
A CHOICE OF ENEMIES
AMERICA CONFRONTS THE MIDDLE EAST
BY LAWRENCE FREEDMAN
July 2009, 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 Enemies 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.
ISRAEL IS REAL
An OBSESSIVE Quest to UNDERSTANDING the JEWISH NATION and its PEOPLE
BY RICH COHEN
July 2009, FS&G
I read several books by Rich Cohen: Tough Jews, The Avengers, Sweet and Low and even the story about his father and the lake house. He has a thing for those tough Jews and former mobsters, in a nostaligic way, like Larry King, but in a good way. And now the cover blurb: .....(And now) he looks to Israel. Israel Is Real is a fresh voice, a tale of people and ideas, of the background of present-day Israel. Cohen relates Israel's story as that of a place long ago destroyed and transformed into an idea . . . and which, sixty years ago, was retransformed into a place, and therefore into something that can once again be destroyed. From the medieval false prophets, to the nineteenth-century Zionists, and on to presentday figures like Ariel Sharon, Cohen tells the stories of the people obsessed with this fine line between place and idea, creation and destruction. He reclaims from obscurity a multitude of figures marginalized by history, but whose lives are key to any real understanding of Israel. Unlike dozens of books about Israel published each year, Israel Is Real won't be irrelevant a month after it comes out. Indeed, it promises to be an instant classic: a rich, strange, moving masterpiece. Click the book cover to read more.
I used to have a moustache
I used to look like Dore Gold
I once went to a Mimouna party where the host expected Ambassador Gold to arrive
At first, in my suit and tie, they thought I was he
I wasn't; I'm not; but they sure did treat me well for a few minutes
How Western Diplomacy With Iran Is Failing to Halt Its Race for a Nuclear Weapon
by Dore Gore
July 2009, Regnery
Across the Western alliance, liberal politicians and pundits are calling for renewed diplomatic engagement with Iran, convinced that Tehran will respond to reason and halt its nuclear weapons program. Yet, according to bestselling author and former U.N. Ambassador Dore Gold, countries have repeatedly tried diplomatic talks--and utterly failed. In Deadly Engagement, Gold traces these past failures and explains why diplomacy will continue to backfire--no matter who is president or which party is in power. Deadly Engagement also shows how:
Western policymakers underestimate Iran's hostility towards the U.S. and Europe; Iran employed strategic deception to hide its intentions from the West; Iran played for time while completing critical aspects of its nuclear program. As the U.S. changes administrations, Obama will inherit the problem of Iran's nuclear program. In his shocking new book, Gold shows why engaging Iran through diplomacy is not only futile, but could also be deadly. Dore Gold is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Hatred's Kingdom and The Fight for Jerusalem. From 1997 through 1999 he served as Israel's U.N. ambassador. Gold was also a foreign policy advisor and diplomatic envoy to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. He has written numerous articles on the Middle East,which have appeared in leading publications such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Gold lives in Jerusalem with his wife and two children. Click the book cover to read more.
DRAWING IN THE DUST
BY ZOE KLEIN
July 2009, Pocket
Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone is convinced bones speak, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed during her twelve years of toiling at Israel's storied battlegrounds of Megiddo has delivered the life-altering message she so craves. Which is why the story of Ibrahim and Aisha Barakat, a young Arab couple who implore Page to excavate the grounds beneath their house in Anatot, instantly intrigues her. The Barakats claim the ghosts of two lovers haunt their home, overwhelming everyone who enters with love and desire. Ignoring the scorn of her peers, Page investigates the site, where she is seduced by an undeniable force. Once Ibrahim presents Page with hard evidence of a cistern beneath his living room, she has no choice but to uncover the secret of the spirits. It is not long before Page makes miraculous discoveries -- the bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah locked in an eternal embrace with a mysterious woman named Anatiya. Buried with the entwined skeletons is a collection of Anatiya's scrolls, whose mystical words challenge centuries-old interpretations of the prophet's story and create a worldwide fervor that threatens to silence the truth about the lovers forever. Caught in a forbidden romance of her own, and under constant siege from religious zealots and ruthless critics, Page risks her life and professional reputation to deliver Anatiya's passionate message to the world. In doing so, she discovers that to preserve her future in the land of the living, she must shake off the dust of the dead and let go of her own painful past. As poignant and thought-provoking as the beloved bestsellers The Red Tent and People of the Book, Zoë Klein's historically rich debut novel is a lyrical and unexpected journey that will stay with readers forever. Click the book cover to read more.
THE DEAD OF WINTER
BY RENNIE AIRTH
July 2009, Viking
The murder of a young Polish girl in wartime London puts John Madden on the trail of a ruthless hired killer
On a freezing London night in 1944, Rosa Novak is brutally murdered during a blackout. The police suspect she was the victim of a random act of violence and might have dropped the case if former police investigator John Madden hadn't been the victim's employer. Madden's old colleagues at Scotland Yard are working on it, but their scant clues lead them to Europe, where the ravages of the war halt their inquiries. Madden feels he owes it to Rosa to find her killer and pushes the investigation until he stumbles upon the dead girl's connection to a murdered Parisian furrier, a member of the Resistance, and a stolen cache of diamonds. With rich psychological insights and vivid historical details, this riveting third novel in the Madden series promises to expand Airth's readership among discerning fans of crime fiction.
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SAVE THE DELI
BY DAVID SAX
In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen
As a journalist and life-long deli obsessive, David Sax was understandably alarmed by the state of Jewish delicatessen-- a cuisine that once sat at the very center of Jewish life had become endangered by assimilation, homogenization, and health food trends. He watched one beloved deli after another shut down, one institution after another shutter only to be reopened as some bland chain-restaurant laying claim to the very culture it just paved over.
And so David set out on a journey across the United States and around the world in search of authentic delicatessen. Was it still possible to Save the Deli? Join David as he investigates everything deli-- its history, its diaspora, its next generation. He tells us about the food itself-how it's made, who makes it best, and where to go for particular dishes. And, ultimately, there there is for hope-- David finds deli newly and lovingly made in places like Boulder, traditions maintained in Montreal, and iconic institutions like the 2nd Avenue Deli resurrected in New York. So grab a pastrami on rye and sit down for a great read-- because Save the Deli is an energetic cultural history of Jewish food, a vibrant travelogue, and a rallying cry for a new generation of food lovers. David Sax is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in publications such as New York, GQ, Conde Nast Traveler, Rolling Stone, Wine Spectator, and The New Republic. He has written on everything from food, travel, and drink, to culture and politics. Sax has lived in Toronto, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro; he travels regularly and is always on the lookout for good deli. He lives in Brooklyn. Click the book cover to read more.
THE POSSIBILITY OF EVERYTHING
BY HOPE EDELMAN
September 2009, Ballantine
In the autumn of 2000, best-selling author Hope Edelman was a woman adrift in a marriage heading slowly but steadily for trouble. Into her stagnant routine dropped Dodo, the increasingly aggressive, disruptive imaginary friend of her three-year-old daughter, Maya. Forced to confront the possibility that her family's history of mental illness may be back to haunt them, they sought mainstream psychological advice. Click the book cover to read more.
BY PHILIP ROTH
Fall 2009, Houghton Mifflin
Roth's 30th published novel. An aging stage actor has his life altered by a counterplot of unusual erotic desire
BY PHILIP ROTH
Summer 2010, Houghton Mifflin
Roth's 31th published novel. Set in the summer of 1994, it tells of a polio epidemic and its effects on a closely knit Newark community and its children.
THE SABBATH WORLD
GLIMPSES OF A DIFFERENT ORDER OF TIME
BY JUDITH SHULEVITZ
March 2010, Random House
Perhaps not since Heschel's The Sabbath, has an author presented a simple deeply informative narrative on the meaning of rest and the Sabbath. Click the book cover to read more.
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