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As scribe of lost days on the Lower East Side, as raconteur and crusader for worthy causes, Golden has never lost his popular glitter -- but in this scattered and badly-edited collection of history and anecdote about southern Jews he's no Birmingham. There are potentially involving but too brief case histories of early settlers in Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, etc., and a few general remarks on the modus vivendi of the three waves of immigrants -- from Spain, Germany and Eastern Europe. The most interesting commentary concerns the peculiar tendency of southern Jews to keep a ""low profile"" -- ""(they) live in deadly fear of a disturber."" Unlike the northern urban Jew who might be a factory worker, or a taxi driver, his southern counterpart was usually ""self-employed,"" on the periphery, at least, of the local power structure, dealing as he did with bankers, wholesalers, etc. Throughout the tangle of past and present biographies -- from a private in the Confederate Army to Bernard Baruch(!) -- Golden sails into contemporary Jewish communities with relish, deploring the majority tendency to ""hide in the tall com."" He reviews anti-Semitic episodes and reminds fellow Jews that they've been riding gratis on the black freedom train toward brotherhood. There are still restrictions in dub membership, but also, unhappily for the rabbis, a good deal of intermarriage. So? Nothing new or special here, but southern Jewish communities will probably be listening from that tall corn.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1974
Publisher: Putnam