Where most books on the immigrant experience tend to concentrate on the accomplishments of notable individuals, Meltzer consistently relates the course of American Jewry to its European roots. Individuals do play a large part in the earlier stages of his narrative -- up through the Civil War which was accompanied by a rise in anti-Semitism despite the pro-Union activities of many prominent Jews. However, with the arrival of large numbers of Eastern European Jews (whose heritage Meltzer has examined in his recent, somewhat more mature, World of Our Fathers), his scope broadens. Here, following a brief history of the pogroms, are sketches of the Lower East Side community -- the sweatshop and the rise of unionism, the public schools which routinely "Americanized" at the same time as they satisfied the hunger for learning, the Yiddish theatre and the all-important socializing role of the Jewish Daily Forward. These are only glimpses, but telling ones of an era when the "pent-up energy" of many oppressed generations began to free itself. And, combined here with Meltzer's attempt to promote better understanding between blacks and Jews, they make an easy to read introduction, on a far higher plane of social sensitivity than most series-spawned celebrations of the melting pot. Strong, sensitive charcoal drawings by Harvey Dinnerstein.