New Books Network

Ruth Harris, “Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century” (Henry Holt, 2010)
If you’re like me (and I hope you aren’t), the “Trial of the Century” involved a washed-up football star, a slowly moving white Bronco, an ill-fitting glove, and charges of racism. I watched every bit of it and remember exactly where I was when the verdict was announced. But if... Read More
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “The Anti-Imperial Choice: The Making of the Ukrainian Jew” (Yale UP, 2009)
I’ve got a name for you: Robert Zimmerman (aka Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham). You’ve heard of him. He was a Jewish kid from Hibbing, Minnesota. But he didn’t (as the stereotype would suggest) become a doctor, lawyer, professor or businessman. Nope, the professions were not for him. He loved the... Read More
Alan E. Steinweis, “Kristallnacht 1938” (Harvard UP, 2009)
One of the most fundamental–and vexing–questions in all of modern history is whether cultures make governments or governments make cultures. Tocqueville, who was right about almost everything, thought the former: he said that American culture made American government democratic. Neocon theorists, who have been wrong about most things, believe the... Read More
Rebecca Manley, “To the Tashkent Station: Evacuation and Survival in the Soviet Union at War” (Cornell UP, 2009)
By the time the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Bolshevik Party had already amassed a considerable amount of expertise in moving masses of people around. Large population transfers (to put it mildly) were part and parcel of building socialism. Certain “elements” needed to be sent... Read More
Tony Michels, “Fire in their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York” (Harvard UP, 2005)
I always assumed that the Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe to New York and created the massive Jewish American labor movement brought their leftist politics with them from the Old Country. But now I know different thanks to Tony Michels’ terrific Fire in their Hearts. Yiddish Socialists in New... Read More
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “Jews in the Russian Army, 1827-1917” (Cambridge UP, 2008)
Every Jew knows the story. The evil tsarist authorities ride into the Shtetl. They demand a levy of young men for the army. Mothers’ weep. Fathers’ sigh. The community mourns the loss of its young. It’s a good story, and some of it’s even true. The reality, of course, was... Read More
Samuel Kassow, “Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive” (Indiana UP, 2007)
Scholars argue about whether the Holocaust was unprecedented. It’s a difficult question. On the one hand, slaughters litter the pages of history. On the other hand, none of them seem quite as calculated, systematic and horribly efficient as the Nazi murder of the Jews and other “Untermenchen.” One thing, however,... Read More