JEWISH TIMES: Voices of the American Jewish Experience by Howard Simons

JEWISH TIMES: Voices of the American Jewish Experience

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A poignant oral history of Jews in America by Simons (Curator of the Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, former managing editor of the Washington Post). The voices, drawn from 200 interviews that Simons conducted over a four-year-period, range from the homespun to the eloquent: Henry Morgenthau III recounting some of the social history of his family, a tale of high society and politics including relationships with Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt; Daniel Bell--now a Harvard professor, in his youth an impoverished, fatherless child who once worked pushing racks of dresses through the streets of New York's Seventh Avenue--recalling his coming into adult intellectual life (with colleagues Irving Howe, Melvin Lasky, Irving Kristol, and Nathan Glazer); Jews in the South, in the Midwest, in the military; butchers, bakers, and insurance salesman. There are stories of coming over from Europe--the nightmare of arriving at Ellis Island with the fear of deportation, the confusion, the delousing--and the companion tale of the founding of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Bubbe mayses (grandmother tales), yes, but schmaltz (corny), no. This is no sentimental journey, but a serious journalistic account of grappling with the forces of assimilation and anti-Semitism. There is also a common thread of affectionate humor that characterizes these memories and brings warmth and some levity as well. A valuable contribution to our understanding of the American Jewish experience.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1988
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin