Book Reviews

The British Dream 0
by / on 1 August, 2013 at 7:59 AM / in Book Reviews

The British Dream

Successes and Failures of Post-war Immigration by David Goodhart and The Battle of Britishness: Migrant Journeys, 1685 to the Present by Tony Kushner

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Judaism Reviewed 1
by / on 9 April, 2013 at 3:19 PM / in Book Reviews, Reviews

Judaism Reviewed

Matt Plen surveys the ‘introducing Judaism’ genre

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Parting Ways 0
by / on 10 January, 2013 at 1:00 PM / in Book Reviews, Books

Parting Ways

Reviewing Judith Butler’s examination of nationalism and modern Jewish philosophy

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God vs. Gay? and Through the Door of Life 0
by / on 25 December, 2012 at 11:03 AM / in Book Reviews, Reviews

God vs. Gay? and Through the Door of Life

Affirming a Jewish tradition which speaks for sexual minorities

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The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist 1
by / on 6 November, 2012 at 5:33 PM / in Book Reviews

The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist

Reviewing Antony Lerman’s personal and political memoirs

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Nostalgic Lands of Nevermore 0
by / on 30 July, 2012 at 2:29 PM / in Book Reviews

Nostalgic Lands of Nevermore

Music from a Speeding Train by Harriet Murav
Jews and Ukrainians in Russia’s Literary Borderlands by Amelia M. Glaser

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Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters 0
by / on 27 March, 2012 at 4:09 PM / in Book Reviews

Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters

Roth left behind a sizeable cache of correspondence, a generous selection of which has now been translated into English for the first time by Michael Hofmann, the poet-translator whose clear-eyed, sharp- tongued devotion has been the making of Roth’s posthumous English-language reputation.

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Sacks’ Legacy 0
by / on 27 March, 2012 at 3:01 PM / in Book Reviews, Judaism

Sacks’ Legacy

Judaism: A Way of Being by David Gelernter Yale University Press • 2009 Open Minded Torah: Of Irony, Fundamentalism and Love by William Kolbrener Continuum • 2011 I blame Jonathan Sacks. Across his oeuvre he has pioneered a style of writing about Judaism designed to put even the most refined gentile Englishman at ease. Beautifully written, his work weaves in […]

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Non Jewish Jews 3
by / on 31 January, 2012 at 5:33 PM / in Book Reviews, Judaism, Politics

Non Jewish Jews

The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics By Gilad Atzmon Zero Books 2011 Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights By David Landy Zed Books 2011 So contested has the issue of antisemitism become and so promiscuously is the term used that it is increasingly difficult tofind clarity amid the fog of frenzied debate. The publication of these two recent […]

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Before and After 0
by / on 20 December, 2011 at 5:44 PM / in Book Reviews

Before and After

Far to Go by Alison Pick Headline Review 2011 The List by Martin Fletcher Thomas Dunne Books 2011 In one way it’s curious that Anne Frank’s diary has become by far the most pre- eminent Holocaust text, because it is also the most oblique. Its power emanates from something never seen directly by its writer. Since the focus is primarily […]

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The Origin of Violence 0
by / on 20 December, 2011 at 5:03 PM / in Book Reviews

The Origin of Violence

The Origin of Violence Fabrice Humbert Serpent’s Tail 2011 The Origin of Violence (L’Origine de la Violence), the author’s third novel and the first to be translated into English, was swiftly extolled by the French press as a ‘great novel’ and a ‘revelation’. The novel won Le Prix Renaudot du Livre de Poche (the Prix Renaudot paperback award), a French […]

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Misreading Roth 0
by / on 13 September, 2011 at 3:43 PM / in Bibliophile, Book Reviews, Books

Misreading Roth

Is The Controversy that Follows Philip Roth Justified? Why does controversy seem to follow Philip Roth around? His first book, Goodbye, Columbus, touched off a riot of a reaction in the Jewish- American community when it was published in 1959. Roth, his detractors said, went out of his way to depict his fictional suburban Jews in an unpleasant light, a […]

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A New Voice for Israel 0
by / on 13 September, 2011 at 3:16 PM / in Book Reviews, Politics

A New Voice for Israel

by Jeremy Ben-Ami Palgrave Macmillan. 2011 Jeremy Ben-Ami is a first rate political operator. In four short years he has made J Street a $5 million organisation and successfully built a Washington power base in opposition to the AIPAC juggernaut and the rest of the so called ‘pro-Israel’ lobby. With its mantra of ‘Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace’, J Street funds electoral battles, […]

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by / on 14 June, 2011 at 2:54 PM / in Book Reviews

The Demon’s Bedroom: Yiddish Literature and the Early Modern

by Jeremy Dauber Yale University Press, 2010 If the suggestive title of Jeremy Dauber’s In the Demon’s Bedroom attracts the attention of the casual passerby, it will have done more than satisfy the book’s author. Rather, it will have proven one of the book’s primary claims:a writer knows how to pique his readers’ interest. Moreover, an author knows how to […]

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Sarah Gliddens’ How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less 0
by / on 14 June, 2011 at 2:11 PM / in Book Reviews

Sarah Gliddens’ How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less

Vertigo/DC Comics, 2010

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The Memory Chalet 0
by / on 21 February, 2011 at 11:12 PM / in Book Reviews, Literature, Tribute

The Memory Chalet

By Tony Judt William Heinemann, 2010 The death of the historian and essayist Tony Judt in August 2010 attracted a great deal of media attention. Much of it was dedicated to his journalistic writings on Israel, including the first three paragraphs of the obituary in The Daily Telegraph, five paragraphs in the obituary in the New York Times and three […]

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Radical Now? 0
by / on 20 February, 2011 at 11:02 PM / in Book Reviews, Judaism

Radical Now?

Two recent books explore the idea of ‘non-duality’, in which ‘everything is God’.

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by / on 10 June, 2010 at 3:15 PM / in Book Reviews, Philosophy

Bridging the Two Cultures

Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture by Edward Skidelsky Princeton University Press Sitting on the judging panel for this year’s Wingate Literary prize, I noticed several patterns emerging. One was the length of most of the entries; it seems that following the model of the 37 volume Babylonian Talmud, many Jewish authors cannot seem to express themselves in less […]

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by / on 21 December, 2009 at 3:05 PM / in Book Reviews

Major Farran’s Hat; Murder, Scandal and Britain’s War Against Jewish Terrorism 1945-1948

By David Cesarani William Heinemann, March 2009, £20.00 On the evening of 6 May 1947 Alexander Rubowitz left his parents’ home in Jerusalem and never returned. Rubowitz was 16 at the time, and a member of LEHI (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel), the smallest and most ardent underground organisation fighting against the British Mandate in Palestine. Commonly referred to […]

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by / on 21 December, 2009 at 3:01 PM / in Book Reviews

A Designated Man

By Moris Farhi Telegram Books, March 2009, £12.99 In a lecture at Harvard in 1967, Jorge Luis Borges mourned the passing of the epic, a form he loved for its fusion of music and narration and its heroic breadth. In contrast to the myopic and introverted modern novel, it offered a ‘pattern for all men’ — something that we in […]

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by / on 21 December, 2009 at 2:44 PM / in Book Reviews


By Sana Krasikov Portobello Books, June 2009, £10.99 Anyone who expects a short story to be an impressionistic wash, a glimpsed moment that requires less than full concentration, should know that the eight stories in Sana Krasikov’s debut collection permit the reader no such idleness. On the contrary, One More Year demands commitment. Its narratives are intricately woven, populated by […]

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by / on 21 December, 2009 at 2:39 PM / in Book Reviews

Marti Friedlander

By Leonard Bell Auckland University Press, October 2009, £34.50 ‘A very good portrait is a paradox,’ says Leonard Bell, professor of Art History at Auckland University. He considers how revelation and mystery co-exist in the work of Marti Friedlander, and her motivation for each of the 185 photographs included in this handsome book, many now being published for the first […]

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by / on 21 December, 2009 at 2:35 PM / in Book Reviews

Fiction as History (as Fiction)

In an article in the Times, Anthony Beevor calls The Kindly Ones ‘a great work of literary fiction, to which readers and scholars will turn for decades to come’. The review is eminently quotable, of course, but alert readers will have to ask: Really? Scholars? Told from a point of view both sensationalist and horrifying — that of an SS […]

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by / on 21 December, 2009 at 2:29 PM / in Book Reviews

City of David

The appropriateness of Messianic hopes in an era pronounced as violent and bleak can seem to touch the nadir of madness or near the course to insanity. Nevertheless, it is precisely at these times that the appeal to the Messianic seems more intense, real and credible. Michael Heller in his new collection of poetry, Eschaton writes: ‘Impossible for me to […]

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by / on 21 December, 2009 at 2:27 PM / in Book Reviews

The Novel of Nonel and Vovel

When Nonel and Vovel made work about the Middle East in 2000 they were asked: who are your audiences? When they make work about the Middle East in 2009 the common question is: do you do it because it is trendy? The first thought crossing one’s mind after putting down The Novel of Nonel and Vovel (following an exhilarated sigh […]

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by / on 11 May, 2009 at 11:10 AM / in Book Reviews

Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century

By Tony Judt Heinemann, 2008, £20 In the early 1990s Tony Judt was in his mid-40s, a fairly obscure British historian, specialising in modern French history. Three things happened to make him one of the best-known historians of his generation. First, in 1995, he became Director of the Remarque Institute at New York University, just at the time when historians […]

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by / on 11 May, 2009 at 11:07 AM / in Book Reviews

The Talmud

Ed. Rabbi Norman Solomon Penguin, 2009, £16.99 Talmud is essentially an activity, not a book; you engage in it, rather than read it as you would a piece of literature. Thus Normon Solomon introduces the challenge of how to reduce this epic work, how to capture the intricacies and richness of the Babylonian Talmud that shaped rabbinic Judaism and remains […]

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by / on 11 May, 2009 at 11:02 AM / in Book Reviews


By Eva Hoffman Harvill Secker 2008, £16.99 Reading Eva Hoffman’s new novel is a mixed experience. At first, I found the rarefied and brittle consciousness of the protagonist, Isabel Merton, hard to engage with. Her life as an internationally famous concert pianist seems both admirable and enviable, yet she is dissatisfied. However, Isabel herself experiences unease at what she thinks […]

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by / on 11 May, 2009 at 11:01 AM / in Book Reviews

Jews and Shoes

By Edna Nashon Berg Publishers, 2008, £17.99 The startling image on the cover of this book is a work by the Israeli artist Nechama Golan. It is a high-heeled sandal made of paper, ink and glue. The shoe is printed with a rabbinic text which explains how a woman is acquired, bringing together a number of ideas discussed in this […]

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by / on 11 May, 2009 at 10:15 AM / in Book Reviews

The Glass Room

By Simon Mawer Little, Brown, 2009, £ 16.99 ‘Light and space…that is everything you need’. So declares a visitor to the spectacular Landauer House, the architectural apotheosis of modernity erected in the days before the black nightmare of World War II. There would be something almost too neat about this perfect construction, this paean to rationality and progress, emerging just […]

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