An informative drama about an important chapter of Zionism.

THE SYKES-WEIZMANN AGREEMENT

A DRAMA AND A HISTORY

In this debut play, Jensen dramatizes the efforts of a real-life American Zionist to bring the United States into World War I as part of a plan to secure British support for a Jewish state.

In 1903, Horace Kallen, a Princeton University senior and protégé of American philosopher William James, is committed to the cause of Zionism—the establishment of a Jewish homeland in British-held Palestine. Many immigrant Jews, including the Silesian-born Kallen, have become successful in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, but as an increasing number of impoverished Jews flee oppression in czarist Russia, public opinion in the West regarding their immigration is beginning to sour. With the help of his mentor, famed attorney Louis Brandeis, Kallen builds a network of prominent American Jews committed to the establishment of a Jewish Palestine. When World War I breaks out, an opportunity arises. Chaim Weizmann, a British chemist and Zionist, offers a proposition to Sir Mark Sykes, a British official: If the Zionists in the United States can bring America into the war on the side of the British, then the British could reward them with a Jewish state in Palestine: “We have connections to President Wilson’s closest advisors….We also have some friends in the American press,” Weizmann claims. “If the American newspapers were to sell the war to the public… President Wilson would be more inclined to enter the war.” This plan doesn’t please all Zionists, and it’s not the only secret plan that’s underway to try to secure a Jewish state, but it proves to be the best opportunity for Kallen to achieve his goal. One question remains: Will he put his adopted country at risk in order to achieve something—Israel—that hasn’t existed for millennia? Jensen seeks to dramatize the relatively obscure titular event, but the fact that it overlaps with a highly significant historical period means that he’s able to include a number of famous figures among the dramatis personae. In addition to Brandeis, readers encounter U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau Sr., British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. As a result, the author largely achieves his goal of presenting the era’s diversity of opinion regarding the potential future of the Jewish people: “Some of the anti-Zionists in the United States say that the ancient land of Israel is gone forever….They say that America is the new Zion,” Brandeis says at one point. The play’s scenes involve a large amount of exposition, and the work as a whole often seems aimed more at providing education than entertainment. However, Jensen manages to keep the play engaging. Two characters are particularly well-drawn: Kallen, who may be new to many readers, and Brandeis, who’s well-known but not often dramatized. Even if readers are familiar with the general sweep of this work’s history, many won’t know the specifics of its particular incidents—and they’ll likely be curious to see how they play out.

An informative drama about an important chapter of Zionism.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5496-5935-5

Page Count: 203

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2018

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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