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: The Compendium of a Culture, a People, and Their Stunning Performance

by Steven Pease

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-09825168-0-5

Exhaustive examination of Jewish achievement over the past 200 years.

Pease, who is not Jewish, explains that from a young age he has had an interest in and empathy for the Jewish people, and that many of his friends and colleagues are Jewish. However, simple curiosity led him to ask how such a tiny group of people could have such a major impact upon culture and society. The more the author researched the role of Jews in the modern world, the more impressed he became. Pease explains that in a room filled with a thousand people representing the diversity of the globe, only two would be Jewish. Nevertheless, Jewish achievements belie those statistics. From the number of Nobel Prize winners, to the percent of students on Ivy League campuses, to the notables on various “Greatest 100” lists of historical figures, Jews have a consistently strong showing despite their otherwise small world presence. Though the author discusses Jews throughout history, his real focus is on the period since the “Jewish Emancipation” dating back to the age of Napoleon. At this point, Pease argues, Jews began to have greater opportunities to contribute to national and global cultures. The bulk of the book is dedicated to documenting individual and collective Jewish achievements, from Milton Friedman to Barbra Streisand and from the Six-Day War to real estate development. The author finally provides an analysis of this data, concluding that Jewish culture, above any other factor, has contributed to such high achievement. Cultural focuses on family, education, autonomy, moderation and charity have all contributed. Readers may wish Pease had delved deeper into what it means to be a Jew, both culturally and religiously, and the manner and extent to which some people profiled in his book actually considered themselves Jewish. Still, this is an impressive tome.

Intriguing look at the modern history of an outstanding people.