A worthwhile history given the difficulties of capturing such a wide-ranging population.



The distinct diaspora story of Jewish women in America.

Nadell (Women’s and Gender History, Jewish Studies/American Univ.; Women Who Would Be Rabbis, 1998, etc.) presents a sweeping history of American Jewish women beginning in the mid-17th century. Focusing on specific individuals and even specific families, the author presents a personalized story that is slanted toward progressive Jewish women and the legacy of Reform Judaism. Nadell follows a natural and predictable progression through the history of American immigration. The first American Jews were few in number and, despite opposition from some quarters, managed to live alongside their non-Jewish neighbors in relative harmony. The Revolutionary and Civil wars punctuate their family stories, and though Jewish women largely lived out domestic roles, they did manage to win certain new freedoms and places of influence in their communities. In the late 1800s, Jewish women took part in many of the era’s social reform movements and laid the groundwork for important work that would be required with the coming wave of immigrants in the early 20th century. These new Jewish immigrants, mainly fleeing Russian pogroms, lived difficult lives in precarious economic times, but many managed to succeed even in the face of increased anti-Semitism. Throughout these years, Jewish women entered the ranks of political and social progressives. A final wave of immigrants, survivors of the Holocaust, added new complexity to the American Jewish community. In the postwar era Nadell explores the lives of such diverse Jewish women as Joyce Brothers, Betty Friedan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, among many more less-famous individuals, whose roles in popular culture, politics, and social trends have been significant. The author largely succeeds in providing a fascinating portrait of American Jewish women, though her subject matter is definitely slanted toward Reform and even secular Jews. She offers little examination of Orthodox or even Conservative Jewish women’s lives, especially in the modern era.

A worthwhile history given the difficulties of capturing such a wide-ranging population.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-393-65123-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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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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