ADVENTURE IN FREEDOM by Oscar Handlin

ADVENTURE IN FREEDOM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The publication of this history of the Jews in America, by the Harvard professor who was awarded the Pulitzer- prize with his earlier- The Uprooted (Little, Brown), will coincide with the start of the Tercentenary celebration and will have the full support of the American Jewish Tercentenary Committee. Less elegiac in character than the earlier book, historical facts, religious and social factors give this a sharper definition. And from the time when, in 1654, the first 25 Jews came to the New World to find privileges which had been unavailable in the Old, this is a history of their adjustment to communal life, their cultural and ethnic absorption as ""these Americans remained Jews"". An expanding society brought new problems, as did the big exodus from Eastern Europe in 1870, into the cities, into industry and commerce, while two communities were to co-exist, the orthodox and the reform. The patterns through the years of Americanization and Zionism and anti-semitism, from its early stereotypes to the open political prejudice of the 1890's to the ""full-fledged racial ideology"" which emerged by 1920, to which Hitler later gave a fresh impetus. But, all in all, this is largely a story of gradual assimilation- and with it the lessening of the Jewish identity, save for the possible religious redefinition of the last years.... A perspective which records the evidence of the years, reflects the flux of social attitudes and cultural contributions, this is an impressive documentary, and the backing of Jewish organizations will help widen its interest.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1954
Publisher: McGraw-Hill