A multilayered scholarly argument for the continued study of “the development of ethnic niches.”



A chronicle of the rise of Jewish editors to important positions in the literary establishment by the 1960s and how they shaped the book industry and the reading public.

On one hand, the concept of a Jewish literary mafia rings antisemitic, especially as decried by predominantly Protestant male authors like Truman Capote and Jack Kerouac. On the other hand, the fact remained that in the early 1900s, the finest publishing houses began to be led by Jews, among the first being Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., founded in 1915, and Simon & Schuster, founded in 1924. Lambert, the director of the Jewish Studies Program at Wellesley College, begins by emphasizing that, until the turn of the 20th century, Jews were largely “literarily disenfranchised” from these positions (as were African Americans, Natives, and other minorities). They were also barred from faculty positions in English programs until the 1930s. The author shows how the next half-century marked enormous changes to Jews’ socio-economic status in the U.S. As significant editors—including Irving Howe, book reviewer at TIME magazine; Barbara Epstein and Robert Silvers, co-founders of the New York Review of Books; and Gordon Lish at Esquire—came on the scene, the publishing industry, both in the U.S. and abroad, experienced an “unprecedented expansion.” Exploring themes like kinship (responsibility to “fellow ethnics”) and homophily (a kind of “cultural gatekeeping”) Lambert, in prose best suited to academics, turns to specific texts to show how the literary establishment grew both nepotistic and meritocratic. Some of the author’s illuminating case studies involve the winners of the National Book Award from 1954 to 1974; Columbia University academic Lionel Trilling’s glowing blurbs for his students (their “shared Jewishness…clearly mattered in the relationships that developed between them”); “whisper novels” by women authors about their paternalistic editors; and the founding of Atheneum in 1959 by Alfred Knopf Jr.

A multilayered scholarly argument for the continued study of “the development of ethnic niches.”

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-300-25142-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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