by Josh Lambert ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2022
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
Page Count: 272
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022
Share your opinion of this book
More by Ilan Stavans
by David Grann ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2017
Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2017
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Finalist
Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.
During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Pub Date: April 18, 2017
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017
Share your opinion of this book
by Tom Clavin ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2020
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
Page Count: 400
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020
Share your opinion of this book
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!