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THE CHOSEN WARS

HOW JUDAISM BECAME AN AMERICAN RELIGION

Religious history that should interest Jews and non-Jews alike.

An account of Jewish history in the United States until 1900, focusing on how a small percentage of immigrants altered a culture and how the culture of the North American continent influenced the three branches of Judaism—Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform.

A former reporter and editor for the New York Times, Weisman (The Great Tradeoff: Confronting Moral Conflicts in the Era of Globalization, 2016, etc.), who is now the vice president for publications and communications at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, clearly understands the writing techniques needed to prevent a detailed religious history from becoming too dry. Beginning with the mid-17th century, the author offers numerous illuminating anecdotes and outsized personalities to explain how and why the first Jews arrived in what became the U.S. more than a century later. (A full timeline and a glossary help nonscholarly readers keep track of the progression.) As Weisman shows, patches of hostility surrounded the new arrivals, but the author focuses more on doctrinal and behavioral schisms within Jewry than on interference from outsiders. Much of the doctrinal emphasis revolves around rabbis arriving from overseas, many of them from Germanic backgrounds. The most influential was Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, who arrived in the New World in 1846, eventually settling in Albany, New York, and later moving his base to Cincinnati. Many of the intra-Jewish battles during this time period occurred in Charleston, South Carolina. The disputes revolving around Wise included not only ancient religious doctrines, but also the insertion of sermons into the worship services, the seating of women and men separately or together, whether to conduct services in the English language, and such seemingly minor disputes about the use of organ music. As Weisman occasionally makes reference to Judaism during the 21st century, he suggests how the creation of Israel as a Jewish homeland split congregations, especially regarding war or peace with displaced Palestinians.

Religious history that should interest Jews and non-Jews alike.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4165-7326-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


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  • 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

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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