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It doesn't matter if you spend your Summer in the Hamptons, in a cell, on a porch or tar beach. What matters is that you are accompanied by a great Jewish book.
JUNE 2001, SUMMER 2001, BEACH 2001, AND MORE 2001 JEWISH BOOKS
JUNE 2001 BOOK SELECTIONS (and some others, too)
Beach Reads new in paperback (and some hardbacks, too)
Click on a cover for a larger picture and reviews
THE GOOD PEOPLE OF NEW YORK.
a novel by Thisbe Nissen
"The Good People of New York" is Thisbe Nissen's first novel, but it's her second book. Her wonderful debut was the short-story collection "Out of the Girls' Room and Into the Night." Nissen, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop Her semiautobiographical novel follows the ups and downs of a family over the years, focusing on the relationship between a mother and daughter. The story begins in 1970, when 29-year-old Jewish New Yorker Roz Rosenzweig meets Edwin Anderson, a Nebraskan four years her junior. He is a newly practicing attorney, "fresh from the heartland," who earnestly insists that he intends to do civil rights law after his student loans are paid off. And although "he'd never really even known a Jew before Roz, let alone kissed one," somehow they hit it off. It isn't long before this comically mismatched couple decides to marry and settle in Manhattan. Soon after, Roz gives birth to their daughter, whom they decide to call Miranda after seeing "The Tempest." Becoming a mother wasn't exactly what Roz had always dreamed of. No one is more surprised than Roz when she falls in love with motherhood. Nearly 10 years later, Roz and Miranda spend most evenings alone at home while Edwin toils away at a high-powered corporate law firm. The money is good, and it's clear that he long ago abandoned any intention of venturing into civil rights law. Nissen charts the deterioration of Roz and Edwin's marriage in a subtle way that is true to life. They grew apart and didn't notice. After they divorce, Roz feels bereft and is unsure of how to deal with her daughter, who as a teenager on the cusp of sexual exploration, enjoys opposing her mother. The novel continues, as Miranda and Roz venture into love, and Edwin moves to Nebraska. Both Roz and Miranda learn to come of age.
What are your reading this Summer?
Drop us a line or post a comment to our Message Board and let us know what you're reading. To the right, Ari Fleischer, the Spokesperson for the Bush White House discusses the size of his Summer Jewish reading list.
THE FRAGILITY OF GOODNESS.
WHY BULGARIA'S JEWS SURVIVED THE HOLOCAUST
by Tzvetan Todorov, Arthur Denner (Translator)
An excellent and enlightening account of Bulgaria and its Jews during WWII. WHY DID MOST OF BULGARIA'S JEWS SURVIVE THE WAR? Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly protested the ant iJewish laws along with other Bulgarian intellectuals. Everyone ignored the laws requiring Jews to wear stars. Although its King, King xxxx, is responsible for the deaths of 12,000 Jews, most Jews were saved by him, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and the King's Justice Minister and Vice Chairman of the Assembly, Dimitur Peshev (who was later imprisoned by the Communists, his Jweish lawyer was disbarred, and two other Jewish lawyers refused to represent him). The Metropolitan Stefan housed the chief rabbi to protect him. The Bulgaria that emerges is not a heroic country dramatically different from those countries where Jews did perish. Todorov does find heroes, especially parliament deputy Dimitar Peshev, certain writers and clergy, and--most inspiring--public opinion. Yet he is forced to conclude that the "good" triumphed to the extent that it did because of a tenuous chain of events. Any break in that chain--one intellectual who didn't speak up as forcefully, a different composition in Orthodox Church leadership, a misstep by a particular politician, a less wily king--would have undone all of the other efforts with disastrous results for almost 50,000 people. The meaning Todorov settles on is this: Once evil is introduced into public view, it spreads easily, whereas goodness is temporary, difficult, rare, and fragile. And yet possible.
DOES AMERICA NEED A FOREIGN POLICY?
TOWARD A NEW DIPLOMACY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
by HENRY KISSINGER
Simon and Schuster (June 14, 2001).
Only 352 pages, in which Kissinger states that the USA has no long term vision. Foreign policy is ad hoc, and this is dangerous. Kissinger warns that we must partner and not compete with the EU. Kissinger makes recommendations for US policy in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, etc.
BREAST CANCER WARS
Hope, Fear, and the Pursuit of a Cure in Twentieth-Century America
by Barron H Lerner MD (Columbia College of Surgeons)
When Dr Lerner was an undergraduate, his mother discovered she had breast cancer. She quietly had it treated, and quietly recuperated. Lerner thought that was how it was done. When he aged and became a physician and historian, he learned that there was more to breast cancer, its treatment, its politics, and its support groups than he and his family were aware. This may be a controversial book. Survivors and physicians and families have deeply held, emotional views on the treatment of breast cancer, particularly the societal embrace of a "war on cancer" rather than an emphasis on prevention. Lerner focuses on the rise and fall of the radical mastectomy pioneered by surgeon William Halsted. To prevent what he theorized was the centrifugal spread of cancer to the lymph nodes, Halsted determined that it was necessary to remove not only the breast but also the nodes and two chest-wall muscles, leaving the patient feeling disfigured and with serious side effects. Lerner details CLEARLY the arguments that many in the scientific community made against this eventually DISCREDITED theory and against radical mastectomy, including those advanced by surgeon George Crile. Crile favored less aggressive operations and disagreed with the cancer establishment's relentless publicity campaign for early detection. He and others were convinced that it was the biology of the cancer, rather than how early it was diagnosed, that determined whether or not a tumor would metastasize. Dr. Lerner provides excellent portraits of the players in this controversy and helps you to understand why they chose their paths and beliefs. Lerner also explores the strong impact the 1970s women's movement had on cancer treatment, with women demanding more information from physicians and input into their treatment options. Pub Weekly calls it "Provocative and highly engaging."
By David Rakoff.
May 2001, Doubleday.
The preface quotes says it all: "You're maudlin and full of self-pity. You're magnificent." This is a collection of about 15 short essays and stories by David Rakoff, known for his essays and interviews in The New York Times Sunday Magazine and from his appearances on WBZ-Public Radio's This American Life with Ira Glass (or his role as moderator at a panel at NYC's JCC of a Upper West Side). A New York City-based young, gay, Jewish man who is actually Canadian (like Peter Jennings and Monty Hall, but not Andrea Martin), with a degree in Asian studies from Columbia, his stories place him in a range of activities. Each story is poignant, fresh and funny. My favorites included stories on the time he attended a survival school (I remember reading it in a Pocono area auto repair waiting room in Outside Magazine) in which he learns to skin roadkill and never to drive down the highway and look at roadkill the same way again; an essay on the day he climbed Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire on a cold stormy Christmas in a possible test of ennobling manhood; his recounting of a Toronto adolescence where he and other children of professionals sing the Internationale, commit themselves to Zionist Socialism, and do an instructional stint in a kibbutz chicken coop; and the time he played a form of Jewy McHebrew on a soap opera. Some of the other stories include the time he sat in NYC's Barney's clothing store's Christmas window as a Christmas Sigmund Freud (people tell him their wishes, and he tells them why their desires are unhealthy for them, or wished for in error); a story in which he attends a weekend Buddhist retreat, in which the aikido-fighting, aubergine and saffron wearing, actor, Steven Seagal is the guest teacher of Tibetan Buddhism; and a story that should be read by every college English major, namely the story of despair as a low-payed entry level editorial assistant (secretary) at a NYC publisher.
And now a word about the U.S. bestseller, THE PRAYER OF JABEZ...
Hi readers. Did you read that The PRAYER OF JABEZ has sold over 4 million copies in the past few months. By late-June 2001, 8.1 million copies will be in print. It is the best selling hardcover in the USA. It is a small Evangelical Christian book by a pastor famous in Promise Keepers circles. In it, he takes a four line prayer from the Book of Chronicles I, Chapter 4, and discusses why people should pray for wealth and all that is coming to them, and that it is no sin to ask for more. So why should I mention it on this site? Well, over 3% of American households have purchased or received this book, so it might be nice to know something about it, from a Jewish (or at least my) perspective (which is not mentioned in the book).
Jewish commentators, such as Rashi and Radek, have written that this character was nicknamed Yavetz (Yud, Ayin, Bet, Tzaddik) by his mother, a play on the word, meaning sadness or loss. Maybe it was the reverse of Atzev (Ayin, Tzaddik, Bet), meaning sadness. Maybe he was born after the death of his father or someone else? He was from the tribe of Judah. His name was like that of Yakov's son, Benjamin, who was named Ben-Oni, son of my painful birth. Maybe by reversing the letters, a better outcome would come from sadness. Chronicles with a sly smile had Yavetz, nicknamed sadness, pray for a life that would not be sad. The Book of Chronicles (by Ezra) is in the Jewish canon, but is looked upon by some as not as divinely inspired as Kings. The text was important to those returning from the Babylonian exile, people who wanted to redeem and resettle the Land of Israel, to reclaim it. In Jewish commentaries, Jabez is associated with Koz (or Kenaz). Jabez, it was taught, was a pious teacher with several students, so many, that the town was named for him. Either way, if someone asks you about JABEZ, you can tell them about a Jewish perspective on prayer. That you can pray for a car if you need it, but don't pray for a Land Rover or Porsche. The author of the JABEZ book may feel otherwise, but that is what makes horse races.
More on Jabez... The author, Bruce Wilkinson, spends the first chapter on the four line prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). He recites it daily, and implores Christians to use it to change their lives. In the successive chapters, Wilkinson comments on each line of Jabez's prayer. Chapter 2 is a discourse on the first line. Quoting Matthew and James, Wilkinson writes that it is okay to ask for blessings without feeling greedy and self centered (ask for the presents that are in the warehouse waiting for you). In Chapter 3, Wilkinson looks at the line of "enlarging my territory..." Taking a non-sexual approach, Wilkinson interprets it to mean that it is acceptable for Christian men to pray for more business or larger portfolios; Christian women may ask for greater influence for their households. Giving examples from his own life as a evangelist, Wilkinson writes about how the prayer allowed him to reach out to a conflicted man while on a cruise and save a woman from her fear of the Antichrist and its deceptions while on a train trip. In Chapter 4, Wilkinson directs his attention to the feeling of abandonment and fear that those Christians who do the work of God will feel. They shouldn't fear dependence, since their partner in their efforts is god. He then gives examples from his own life, such as the time he lead dozens of teens to preach on Long Island beaches to save the unchurched. In Chapter 5, Wilkinson discusses how to immunize oneself from evil through the prayer. He narrates the time he flew on a plane after preaching and counseling for a full week, and discovered that seated to his right and to his left were men reading pornographic magazines. He prayed and suddenly both men closed their magazines. In Chapter 6, Wilkinson recounts how is daily recital of the prayer aids his ministry and being a Christian messenger. Once he was in a taxi, on the way to an airport, when a accident delayed traffic. He prayed that the flight would be delayed so he would not miss it (hmmm... and you thought he would have prayed for the health of anyone injured in the accident?) Well, the flight WAS delayed, the passengers were milling about waiting, and he got to counsel a woman and convince her not to divorce her cheating husband. Finally, Wilkinson closes his slim book by recommending that the reader pray the prayer, keep a journal of their daily prayers, and record the people they influence each day.
So now you don't have to buy the book. Save your money and buy a Jewish book. Or purchase a Jewish translation of Chronicles and read it :-)
THE TEN JOURNEYS OF LIFE
WALKING THE PATH OF ABRAHAM, A GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN
by Rabbi Michael Gold
HCI Simcha Press. (June 2001).
Rabbi Gold (author of Hannah Wept) uses the story and trials of Abraham as a guide for spiritual journeys and trials (trails and trials, from doubt to faith). Rather than geing off the top of his head, this book is based on field testing.. hehe... namely, Rabbi Gold's hundreds of counseling sessions with congregants and other seekers. He uses Abraham as father, parent, shepherd, dweller, judge, husband, host, judge, uncle, lover of women, and partner. A spiritual person should not be self centered, must focus more on self control than self indulgence.
NAMING NEW YORK. Manhattan Places and How They Got Their Names
By Sanna Feirstein (New York Historical Society docent)
June 2001. Arranged by neighborhood, very brief histories of famous places. A good start. Why is Sutton Place named Sutton or Tryon Tryon, or Beekman Place for Beekman? Why isn't Madison Square garden in Madison Square? Why is Times Square named for The New York Times and Herald Square for the Herald?
HOUSE BROKEN. Three Novellas. by Yael Hedaya
This collection of three novellas is Israeli writer Hedaya's first publication to appear in English. Although all three novellas treat troubled relationships, each relies on its own distinct literary devise to illustrate the complexities, and perhaps impossibilities of a happy union. In "Housebroken," a stray dog is taken in by a couple trying to navigate their way into a stable relationship. As the relationship develops and disintegrates, the dog also thrives and sickens. In "Matti," the male protagonist, through separate story lines, is portrayed as an obsessive and self-absorbed partner in two different relationships. As he dies, both women begin to view him as who they had hoped he might be for them, rather than as he truly was. In "The Happiness Game," an elderly couple divorces and reunites as their daughter unsuccessfully attempts to create stability and happiness out of a transient affair
BEHOLD THE TREES
by Sue Alexander, Illustrated by Leonid Gore
May 2001. Scholastic/Levine. 48 pages. Not for kids only. A history of the area that is now Israel over the past 7000 years from the POV of ecology, plants and trees. A cycle of horticultural blooming, destruction, and reblooming.
WARRIORS OF GOD:
RICHARD THE LIONHEART AND SALADININ THE THIRD CRUSADE
by James Reston Jr.
240 Pages. Doubleday. I noticed this book by accident, started to read the first chapter, and was drawn into this interesting story of two men, two political leaders, and the fight for Jerusalem between Arabs and Christian Europe. The victims were of course Moslems and Jews, whose blood ran in the streets of the Middle East and Europe. Come and read this story of how Pope Urban II sought to unite the warring kings and princes of Europe by having them unite in a holy war to wrest control of Jerusalem from the infidels. What followed were years of five crusades, beginning at the end of the Eleventh Century. Along the way they killed many European Jews. At the same time, Sultan Saladin was able to unite Egypt, Syria, Arabia and Mesopotamia, and the lands in between, and bring together a holy Jihad war in defense of Arab, Islamic control of Jerusalem. In the THIRD Crusade (1187 - 1192), King Richard I of England (a pious murderer) faced off with Saladin. To this day, some Arabs pray for Saladin to return and win control of the Middle East for Arabs, so to read the actual story is quite enlightening and enjoyable
Did you hear that Barnes and Noble purchased FatBrain.com for $64 million. HEY, what are we? Chopped Liver? Will someone please make us an offer ?
By the way, BarnesandNoble.com laid-off 350 staff, and Amazon.com cut 1500. We are happy to say that MyJewishBooks.com has not cut any employees... yet.
WHAT'D I SAY. THE ATLANTIC STORY
by Ahmet Ertegun (Atlantic Records co-founder)
565 Pages and eight pounds. Ray Charles once said, "most record guys can't kep time, they just can keep money." Ertegun was different. He could keep time. In 1947, Ahmet Ertegun (the son of a Turkish ambassador to DC) co-founded Atlantic Records with Herb Abramson. Jerry Wexler joined them soon after. Together, they signed acts including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Clyde McPhatter, John Coltraine, Charles Mingus, Crosby Still and Nash, Cream, Young Rascals, Led zeppelin, the Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones, ABBA, Manhattan Transfer, Sister Sledge..., Ornette Coleman, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Dincan Shiek, to name a few. This is Ertegun auto biography and the story of the creation of American pop music.
DAVIDS SECRET DEMONS.
Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King.
by Baruch Halpern (Chairman, Jewish Studies, Penn State Univ)
June 2001. Eerdmans. A study of King David, a very complex Biblical character, based on the statements and the omissions in Samuel 1, Samuel II, and Kings I. Also quotes from writers from Agatha Christie to Disraeli to Shakespeare to Twain. Outstanding study of a villainous David, but much too academic in tone to be fun.
JUDAISM WITHIN MODERNITY:
ESSAYS ON JEWISH HISTORIGRAPHY AND RELIGION
By Michael Mayer
June 2001, Wayne State Univ Press. Checks the effects of modernization on Jewish self understanding
THE LAST PARTNERSHIPS.
Inside the Great Wall Street Money Dynasties
by Charles R. Geisst
2001, a general history of Wall Street, organized in chronological chapters, each featuring two famous houses. The first chapter covers 1812 to 1873, focusing on Clark Dodge and Jay Cooke. The last chapter runs from the 1930s to the present, featuring Lazard Freres and Goldman Sachs.
On the right: George W. checks out a Jewish book. I guess he can't be all that bad?
JEWS IN AMERICA. A CARTOON HISTORY
By David Gantz
Jewish Pub Society, June 2001. Cartoon history by a MAD MAGAZINE cartoonist.
THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM: MEDIEVAL MILLENARIANS AND THE JEWS
by Robert E. Lerner
2001. University of Pennsylvania Press. 186 pages. Millenarians, or chiliats, believe(d) that chaos and calamities would rule and bring about a Golden Age. Focusing on the discovered works of the abbot, Joachite of Fiore (1135-1202), the Joachites of Italy, the Beguins (followers of 13th Century Pierre de Jean Olivi), Nicholas of Buldersdorf (burned in Basle in 1446 for stating that Jews had a place in the future society), and Jean de Roquetaillade (1310-1365), Lerner maintains that some Millenarians were philo-Semitic, and saw a role for Jews in bringing about the Golden Age and would even serve in the messianic government.
A LETTER THAT HAS NOT BEEN READ: DREAMS IN THE HEBREW BIBLE
By Shaul Bar.
June 2001, HUC Press. Categorizes dozens of biblical dreams and visions as prophetic, symbolic or incubation dreams.
CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM. An Introduction of ISLAM for Jews.
by Khalid Duran with Abdel Wahab Hechiche
June 2001. Ktav and the American Jewish Committee.
First of all, it is a crime, outrage and shame that some followers of Islam have called for the death of this author for writing this book.
Now about the book... some write that the AJC has made a mistake.
This is an explanation of Islam for Jewish audiences. Many have criticized this book since the author does not show the many similarities between the religions, and focuses mostly on the negative interactions between the two religions in the past. Critics also state that Duran, the editor of the TransIslam journal, spends too much time on the beliefs of Islamists, a small group within Islam. He also makes outlandish assertions, which should not be appearing in a basic introduction to normative Islam.
CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM. An Introduction of Judaism for Muslims.
by Rabbi Reuven Firestone
June 2001. Ktav and the American Jewish Committee.
Well, I always thought that people following Islam were Moslem, not Muslim, but that's is just me, I guess.
This is an explanation of Judaism for those who follow Islam. It attempts to replace fear with hope.
THE SWEETHEART IS IN
By S. L. Wisenberg.
June 2001. Northwestern University Press. Wisengerg is a member of the new Jewish storytelling movement. A collection of short stories detailing both the power and the fragility of human relationships. In these edgy stories, she portrays the yearnings of a little sister, the romantic entanglements of political activists, and the hazy memories of a concentration camp liberator. "The Sweetheart Is In", the title story, is about a young tweenage girl, during the VietNam War, who tries to find her place in the world and in her Houston Jewish community. A number of Wisenberg's chracters are searching for a deep and real connection with their Jewishness.
THE GIFT OF KABBALAH. Discovering the secrets of Heaven, Renewing Your Life on Earth.
By Tamar Frankiel (UC, Riverside)
June 2001, Jewish Lights Publishing. An attempt to explain Jewish mysticism
THE JEHOVAHS WITNESSES AND THE NAZIS.
by Michel Reynaud and Sylvie Graffard
The Nazis imprisoned Jehovah Witnesses during WWII. Nearly 5000 of them died in concentration camps, about 200 Witnesses were killed by guillotine. They refused to swear allegiance to the State, and they would not give a Nazi salute. Many sang psalms on the way to the guillotine. They never tried to escape, and were not a threat, so the SS used them as household workers and domestic servants in the concentration camps. They were forced to wear violet triangles. This is the story of the treatment of Witnesses during WWII. Click to read more.
Are you in New York City this June? If yes, then take note:
June 6, B&N. Astor Place 7:30 PM. Melvin Jule Bukiet (Strange Fire)
June 7, B&N. Union Square 7:30 PM. David Rakoff (FRAUD) with David Sedaris
June 7, B&N. UWS Bway and 82nd 7:30 PM. Myla Goldberg (Bee Season), with Emma Richler and Rachel Seiffert
June 13 B&N. UWS Bway and 82nd 7:30 PM. Rabbi Shmuely Boteach (Why Can' I Fall in Love? A 12-Step Program)
June 15 B&N. UWS Bway and 82nd 7:30 PM. Henry Dunow (The Way Home: Scenes from a Season, Lessons from a Lifetime)
June 18, NYC Scribblers on the Roof, 251 W 100th St 8 PM. Reading by Binnie Kirshenbaum (Pure Poetry); and Lynne Sharon Schwartz (In the Family Way: An Urban Comedy)
June 20 B&N. Union Square 7:30 PM. Alan M Dershowitz (Supreme Injustice)
June 25, NYC Scribblers on the Roof, 251 W 100th St 8 PM. Reading by David Black (Like Father) and Myra Goldberg (Whistling and Other Stories)
July 2, NYC Scribblers on the Roof, 251 W 100th St 8 PM. Reading by Dani Shapiro (Playing With Fire; Fugitive Blue); and Helen Schulman (P.S., and The Revisionist)
July 9, NYC Scribblers on the Roof, 251 W 100th St 8 PM. Reading by Jonathan Ames (The Extra Man); and Janice Eidus (Vito Loves Geralidine)
July 16, NYC Scribblers on the Roof, 251 W 100th St 8 PM. Reading by Ben Taylor (out of school) and Pearl Abraham (Giving up America, The Romance Reader)
July 23, NYC Scribblers on the Roof, 251 W 100th St 8 PM. Reading by Josh Henkin (Swimming Across the Hudson) and Lucy Rosenthal (The Ticket Out). All are teachers at Sarah Lawrence, so one can expect some other teacher, like Bukiet, to show up.
July 30, NYC Scribblers on the Roof, 251 W 100th St 8 PM. Reading by Max Apple (Roommates, I Love Gootie) and Rebecca Goldstein (Mazel)
USE THE "SEARCH" FUNCTION BELOW
To look up the works of any of the authors from the readings listed above
WOMEN AND THE STUDY OF TORAH.
by Naomi Cohen, Editor
July 2001. Ktav. A collection of essays by Cohen, M Twersky, Warren Zev Harvey, and Arthur Silver on the extent to which women and girls should be permitted or required to study Torah, the history of such education, and discussions with those educators currently in the filed, teaching women and girls
The Holocaust Kids. Stories
By Sonia Pilcer
Persea Books. June 2001.
JULY 2001 BOOKS
MASQUERADE: Dancing Around Death in Nazi Occupied Hungary
By Tivadar Soros.
July 2001, Arcade. Jewish father of billionaire George Soros tells his CHEERFUL story of survival. Newly translated from ESPERANTO. Tivadar escaped from Hungary in 1956, and died in NYC in 1968. He learned much as an escaped WW ONE prisoner. The Nazis came late to Hungary because, until early 1944, Germany and Hungary were uneasy allies. But when they did arrive, their orders were to put the final solution into effect with all due speed. This unique account of survival, forged papers, and hiding is told by a Budapest lawyer who secured fake identities for himself and his family following the invasion of the Germans in March 1944. Soros views his experiences with a beguiling humor, deep humanity, and a wisdom that is humbling. MASQUARADE is a very personal, low-key testament of the Holocaust, of how one man managed not only to escape, but to retain his integrity, compassion, family unity, and humor by dancing around death.
The HASIDIC PARABLE.
An Anthology with Commentary
By Rabbi Aryeh Wineman
July 2001. JPS. Rabbi Wineman of Troy NY has edited this anthology of Hasidic parables (Paradox and the Unexpected; Redefinitions; Deepening the Implications of Divine Oneness; Echoes; The Transformation of Older Motifs).
THE JOYS OF YIDDISH by Leo Rosten
Leo Rosten's daughters (Madeleine Lee and Margaret Rosten Muir) have sold the rights to this 30 year old book to Crown Publishers. The text will be updated for 2001, and it will include a cross reference Yiddish English index which was badly needed. Watch for future spinoffs and brand extensions. UNTIL THEY UPDATE THE BOOK, YOU CAN STILL BUY THIS APRIL 2000 EDITION.
Click here to order this book from Amazon.com, read more reviews, or to add your own review.
THE ALGERIA HOTEL
FRANCE, MEMORY, AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR
By Adam Nossiter
July 16, 2001, Houghton Mifflin. 300 pages. Should sleeping dogs be left to lie? There are those who wish not to remember, and those who find it dificult to forget. In 1966, Adam Nossiter was 6 years of age and living in Paris' 14e with his family. His father was a reporter for The Washington Post, covering France and President de Gaulle. He was enamored with the big nosed President. It was a time that you heard "[I/He was] in the resistance" as much as you heard "bonjour." De Gaulle promoted the myth that all of France was in the Resistance against Hitler and that the Vichy government was benign. Not even Jews of France and the Marias discussed the deportations of 25% of their co-religionists. The film, The Sorrow and the Pity, was banned from French television. Why mess up a pleasant life with reality? As a child, Nossiter remembers that he stayed away from their home's sewing room. It was the place where it was said that the prior tenant, Thierry de Martel, a famed physician and brain surgeon, but a right wing, anti Semitic French nationalist, killed himself when German troops entered Paris in June 1940. The sewing room cast a shadow on the author's childhood, just a WWII, its war crimes, and its myths cast a shadow on French society to this day. In light of the recent trend of some French citizens to face the truth about not only Vichy collaboration, but Vichy's striving to do away with democracy and the republique and replace it with its authoritarian rule, Nossiter travels to three towns in France to illuminate France's population and their legacy of WWII. He lives there over 3 years. In Bordeaux, he follows the six month trial of 87 year old Maurice Papon, who stood accused of deporting 8-10 trains of 1,560 French Jews to their deaths (as the post-war head of the police in Paris under de Gaulle, dozens of Algerian protestors were murdered). In Vichy, the seat of the collaborationist government, he researches what really happened during the war, and what myths were created about collaboration and resistance. Is living in Vichy like residing in a town named Dachau? In Tulle, a town relatively shielded, he listens for the echoes of a Nazi massacre that occurred in June 1944. Nossiter, a former reporter for the NYT and the Atlanta Journal Constitution brings to French history the same keen observations that he brought to his previous work on Mississippi and the Murder of Medgar Evers. How do you live with the past? How do the victims continue to live with the persecutors? How do myths make life easier? His writing style is so well crafted the book pulls you in like a whirlpool.
Speaking of the word ALGERIA, Let me make note of the following book, below:
AN ALGERIAN CHILDHOOD
A Collection of autobiographical narratives
Edited By Leila Sebbar, translated from the French by Marjolijn de Jager
April 2001. A unique collection of 16 autobiographical recollections by male, female, settler, indigenous, Arab, Kabyle, French, and Jewish writers who grew up in Algeria. Anne Donadey, in the book's foreword, explains how the history of Algeria has influenced its writers. Sewn through some of the stories are hints at children's reactions to social distinctions, colonialism, restrictions, and war. Algeria, North Africa's largest country, has been the home to blacks, whites, Arabs, Jews, Romans, Berbers/Kabyles, Europeans, Corsicans, Christians, and Moslems. Jews moved to Algeria in the Sixth Century, the Arabs arrived in the Seventh, naming it the Maghreb for the Western setting sun of the expanding empire. More Jews and Moslems arrived during the Iberian Inquisition, the Turks arrived, and the French took over in 1830 after fighting Abdelkader for three years. Algeria's war for independence from France lasted eight years, from 1954-1962, and it and the murders that occurred before and after independence play a role in the stories. The book opens with Malek Alloula's "My Exotic Childhood" in which the Parisian poet recalls the Tekouk, that springtime season of anticipation, smelling of pine resin and paella, a time of languid craziness that preceded Easter and Summer vacation from school. Jamel Eddine Bencheikh, a Sorbonne poet from a Tlemcen family, contributes "Tlemsen Up High." In it he recalls the springtime celebrations of al-Ourit, where girls would sing tahwif, Jewish women would pass by singing Passover songs and exchange greetings and sweets, young men sought to play pranks, and his grandmother would recount her dreams. He recalls his Summer visits, the colors and smells, and the places he can recall only in dreams. Among my other favorites in the collection of 16 are the following: Mohammed Dib, who was born in Algeria over 80 years ago, recalls David with the Tunisian pastry stand, and the kids' fears of French people, and the fist of the French teacher. "By Independence Clear" by Mohamed Kacimi el Hassani of Zaouia d'El Hamel in Southern Algeria's plateau. In his story he recalls second grade and the Algeria's independence, when all the women baked cakes and sewed flags, his classmates wondered whether they would have to study French, and the author met Colonel Chaabani of the FLN (who would later be assasinated). In Albert Bensoussan's "The Lost Child", he recalls his mother's shopping trips to the market and his family's Rosh Hashana traditions in Algiers, where the ADA (tradition) was to eat fish, sweets, and go to the crowded casbah to purchase and eat jujube fruits that tasted of dates. It is there that the author, who knows little Arabic, loses sight of his mother at the age of six, and is saved by an Arab man (Sidi Lardjouz) and his 8 year old daughter. They become playmates for the next 3 years until... In "Bare Feet", Helene Cixous, a native of Oran, now a director at Paris VIII, she recalls Oran, its sailors and natives, how her doctor father became a pedicure under Vichy. The oppression makes her happy, since she no longer feels an ambiguity as to her social class. Annie Cohen, a native of Sidi-Bel-Abbes, in "Viridiana My Love", recalls housekeepers, their children, and the children of the employers. Roger Dadoun in "The Hammam" provides a story from his Shem chronicles, recalling the hammam (bath), the foods, the Sabbath shopping trips, the stores, the fritters, recipes, the backgammon at Café Benayoum, and the conversations in tetouanais/staonne. Jean Daniel, born in Blidan eighty years ago, was editor in chief of L'Express. He recalls the banality of a fun childhood, his god-like teachers, the Spanish war, and his Jewish father, a grain merchant, who could speak Berber and worshipped knowledge.
Still wondering where to go on vacation? Why not try KlezKanada: The only Annual festival of Jewish/Yiddish culture and Music in Canada, at Camp B/nai Brith in Lantier Quebec, August 22-26, 2001. Check www.Klezkanada.com
TOO MANY MEN.
By LILY BRETT
August 13, 2001, a witty, gripping, wry, and philosophical novel. It spent four months on Australia's best Sellers list. It is most likely the author's pinnacle work to date, the culmination of several novels and poems that hinted of or confronted the nazi death camps. Lily Brent is a famed and honored novelist and poet in Australia. She became a famous novelist and rock journalist (once mistaken for Mama Cass), and was a celebrity from her appearances on the live Aussie "Uptight" TV show in her youth. She was born in the German Feldafing DP Camp in 1946 and was taken to Melbourne Australia in 1948 by her parents. Her parents were separated after they were deported from the Lodz Ghetto (where they spent 5 years), and it took 6 months for them to find each other again after the war. LILY currently lives in New York.
This novel is the story of Ruth Rothwax, a comfortable, independent (single), obsessive (spend only 12 minutes on a gossip magazine, take a quick shower) New Yorker, and a daughter of Edek and Rooshka Rothwax, Polish Jews who emigrated to Australia after WWII. The daughter of survivors, although Ruth makes a living writing letters for other people, she is unable to find the words, processes, or rituals to come to terms with her parents' traumas. She needs to know her past to understand who she is. She is uncomfortable in her own skin. She must return to the scene of the crimes, and travels to Poland, the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz, and Birkenau with her 81 year old father, a man with whom she snipes. They are disgusted by the anti Jewish graffiti that abounds, and the way visitors to Auschwitz discuss Spielberg's camera angles and avoid the real message of the camp. They get served cakes and tea at a woman's home on plates that once belonged to Edek's mother. But Edek is able to be affable (and maybe even intimate) with the Polish people he meets. How can this be? Then Ruth begins to hear the voice of "R.H." - Rudolph Hoss (the Auschwitz Commandant from 1940-43) - in her mind. Will she answer his statements? What will she say? Will the trip with her father make her less angry? Will the trip comfort her? What can she learn from her father?
MOSAIC. A CHRONICLE OF FIVE GENERATIONS
By Diane Armstrong
August 1, 2001, St Martins Press. Diane Armstrong (daughter of Heneck and Bronia Baldinger) traveled to Europe from her Australian home 9 years ago to visit an uncle she hadn't seen in nearly 50 years. Her visit compelled to dig into her family history, and interview distant relatives. The book is the saga of a century of the lives of the descendents of Daniel Baldinger and his 11 children; it is a Polish-Jewish saga that takes place in Israel, France, Poland, and Australia.
COMMUNINGS OF THE SPIRIT: THE JOURNALS OF MORDECAI M KAPLAN. Vol 1: 1913-1934.
edited By Mel Scult
August 2001, Wayne State Univ Press. On Kaplan, not K*A*P*L*A*N. Comprised of diary selections by the founder of Reconstructionism.
ON BORROWED WORDS. A Memoir of Language
By ILAN STAVANS (nee Stavchansky)
August 2001, A Book About Searching, searching for a mentor or more. Did you ever wonder, if you were born in another language, maybe you would have been a great person of letters? Or with another body, maybe you would have been a great communicator through dance? Maybe had you been born in China you would be a great Chinese poet? Anyway, when does this guy find the time to write? He is giving Stephen King a run for his money. Stavans, that Mexican born Jewish American, tells the readers about his search for a place, a home language, a portable language, for a life goal. Just like Americans in Israel (they are Jews in America, but Anglo Saxons in Israel), Stavans was a Jew in Mexico, but in America he is finally seen as Mexican. Stavans, the son of a famous Mexican actor, with a Yissih speaking grandma and a brother with a speech impediment, grew up in Mexico City and its Jewish community, a Jewish community obsessed with security (and guns), played with Marxism, lived in Israel and Europe, but he felt most comfortable with English. This is a unique memoir, and with the growing Hispanization of the United States, I recommend it as a must read.
By the way, looking for some newer Spanish speaking Jewish authors? Try Ricardo Fierstein, Marcos Aguinis, Marcela Bartolo, Damian Montero, Guillermo Levy, Jorge Goldenberg, Manuela Fingueret, Rosa Nissan (Novea que te vea, Like a Bride), or Mauricio Rosencof, to name a few.
Also, if you are near a library, check out his article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (May 25, 2001) on the Holocaust, Remembrance, the Jews of Latin America, and the publication of Barbarie y Memoria, edited by Manuela Fingueret, which includes contributions from Jorge Semprun, Leon Felipe, Hector Yanover, Simja Sneh, Monica Sifrim, Leon Rozitchner, and Santiago Kavadloff..
THE AUTHOR OF HIMSELF: The Life of Marcel Reich-Ranicki
By Marcel Reich_Raniski, translated by Ewald Osers
August 2001, Marcel Reich-Ranicki writes for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and hosts the prime-time television show Das Literarische Quartett. He is the author of numerous books on German and Polish literature, including Thomas Mann and His Family. This is the erudite autobiography of Marcel Reich-Ranicki, who is Germany's foremost cultural reviewer and critic, the "pope of German letters". Born to a Jewish family in 1920, he moved to Berlin as a child, and was deported to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1938. An escapee from the ghetto, he and his wife spent two years hiding in the cellar of Polish peasants, an incident later immortalized by Gunter Grass. After liberation, he joined and then fell out with the Communist Party and was temporarily imprisoned. He began writing and soon became Poland's foremost critical commentator on German literature. Upon moving to germany in 1958, he became a celeb. Reich-Ranicki's book spent over one year on Germany's lists of best selling books (53 weeks)
HOMELANDS: Southern Jewish Identity in Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
By Leonard Rogoff
August 2001, University of Alabama Press. An excellent history of the Jewish community of Durham-Chapel Hill, beginning with the German Jewish settlers prior the Civil War, and their adaptation to Southern culture. Followed by the working class Russian Jewish settlers. Rogoff explores what it means to be Jewish and Southern.
POWER, POLITICS, AND CULTURE: Interviews with Edward W. Said
by Edited by Gauri Viswanathan (Columbia Univ)
August 2001. Interviews over 25 years with Columbia's famed intellectual, and foe of Zionism and Yasir Arafat. Includes his thoughts on literature, Marxist criticisms in literature, Salman Rushdie, Saddam Hussein, and the Middle East.
PORTRAITS OF OUR PAST: JEWS OF THE GERMAN COUNTRYSIDE
by Emily Rose
August 2001. Jewish Publication Society. A unique book that debunks many of the myths of pre War German Jews of rural Germany. Lots of maps .
THE JEWISH LIGHTS SPIRITUALITY HANDBOOK. A Guide to Undersatnding, Exploring and Living A Spiritual Life.
Edited by Stuart M. Matlins
August 2001. Jewish Lights. The founder and editor of Jewish Lights Publishing had sewn together this anthology with selections from Jack Reimer, Ira F Stone, Lawrence Kuchner, Arthur Green, Tamar Frankiel, mark Haas, David Cooper, Dannel Schwarz, Nathaniel Stampfer, and others.
LOVE AND TERROR IN THE GOD ENCOUNTER
THE THEOLOGICAL LEGACY OF RABBI JOSEPH SOLOVEITCHIK. Volume 1
by Rabbi David Hartman
August 2001. Jewish Lights. 256 pages. Rabbi Hartman of the Shalom Center in Jerusalem pays tribute to the RAV, his mentor, who was born in Poland in 1903 and earned a doctorate in philosophy from the university of berlin. He settled in Boston after arriving in the United States in 1932, but he served as the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University, commuting to Manhattan for forty years. Hartman analyzes three of Soloveitchik's works: Halakhic Man, The Lonely Man of Faith, and Confrontation. A very dense book. A very important book. A re-analysis of what The Rav really said n his books. Some believe that the Rav, had he been alive today, would advocate insularity against Western non-Jewish works. Hartman disagrees. Hartman comments on Soloveitchik's "Confrontation", and explains the reasons for Soloveitchik endorsment of LIMITED ecumenical discussions.
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