CHUTZPAH by Alan M. Dershowitz


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 Flamboyant Harvard Law professor and appellate advocate Dershowitz (The Best Defense, Reversal of Fortune, etc.) writes engagingly and bluntly of the unique problems and challenges of being Jewish in general, and being Jewish in America in particular. With all the persuasiveness and ``chutzpah'' for which he has become renowned in his criminal-defense work, Dershowitz assails the view (which he contends is current among both Jews and gentiles of his generation) that American Jews are merely ``guests'' in a predominantly Christian America, and that American Jews must defer to views and sensibilities of non-Jewish citizens. He also rejects the notion that American Jews are ``second-class Jews'' simply because they live in the heterodox US and have not made aliyah (i.e., migrated to Israel). American Jews, he says, ``need not compromise either...Americanism or...Jewishness.'' Using as starting points personal anecdotes of his own childhood in the Orthodox community of Brooklyn, his education at Brooklyn College and Yale Law School, his brief period of law-firm practice, his Supreme Court clerkship, his academic career, and his involvement with such cases as the Jonathan Pollard spy case and a libel case against the anti- Semitic Polish Cardinal Glemp, Dershowitz explores issues of anti-Semitism, discrimination against Jews, and loyalty to Israel. Proudly, he urges American Jews to assert their own self- interest without guilt or fear. Occasionally, he exhibits an unfortunate tendency to vilify those who disagree with him (Noam Chomsky, Norman Podhoretz, Patrick Buchanan), but his narrative is absorbing, his discussions lively, and his arguments often convincing. An energetic and stimulating exposition of the primary political and cultural issues confronting Jewish Americans.

Pub Date: May 31st, 1991
ISBN: 0-316-18137-4
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1991


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