“Machberet” is the Hebrew word for notebook. Since it’s also (appropriately) one of the very first words I learned in my first Hebrew school in Brooklyn (and, I confess, one of the few conversational Hebrew words I still remember), I’ve chosen it to title this blog, where I offer write-ups on Jewish news (especially of the literary sort) and occasional commentary.
As eagerly as I anticipated the publication of Jonathan Kirsch’s The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris this spring, I knew right away that I wouldn’t be able to review the book. That’s because I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know Jonathan over the past few years, primarily through my work writing reviews for The Jewish Journal, where Jonathan is Book Editor. My abilities to be “objective,” notwithstanding, the apparent conflict is obvious.
But I knew, too, that I could count on the book being a superb read, one that I’d want to share with others. As soon as I finished it (I was right–it’s excellent), I sent some questions to Jonathan. Those questions, and his answers, can be found below. Continue reading ›
I’ve mentioned before how grateful I am to be taking a noncredit course on “Zionist Thought & Statesmanship” this spring. Among other benefits, the seminar has provided me with an excellent reading list. Most recently, I finished reading A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, by Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh. (It is worth noting that May 14 will mark the 65th anniversary of the United States, under President Truman’s leadership, becoming the first nation to recognize the State of Israel.)
Published in 2009, the book won the Washington Institute’s Book Prize (for nonfiction books on the Middle East). It received widespread attention; rather than give you a summary/review myself, I’ll point you to some existing analyses.
“Zionist in the White House,” by Jonathan Tepperman (New York Times Book Review)
Review by Walter Russell Mead (Foreign Affairs)
“Success Has Many Parents,” by Daniel E. Levenson (New Vilna Review)
But wait–there’s more. Bonus material that I’ve located online includes an excerpt and a video (which I hope to have the opportunity to watch in the near future myself) that features the authors discussing their book at the YIVO Institute.
Have any of you already read the book? What are your thoughts?
Whatever the reason, I can’t understand why some writers seem so intent on distancing their work from being identified as “Jewish.” That they do so while simultaneously benefiting from the “label” and showing no evidence of suffering from any career-stultifying “ghettoization” only adds salt to the wound.
From an essay of mine just published on JewishJournal.com.