The Lion’s Gate

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By Stephen Pressfield Sentinel, 430 pages Taken on its own terms, as “hybrid history,” “The Lion’s Gate” is an engaging immersion in the experiences and emotions of participants in Israel’s first three wars. Steven Pressfield, author of 12 previous books, interviewed 63 people over the course of 370 hours and sliced their recollections into chronological… Read More

All Fall Down

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By Jennifer Weiner Atria Books, 400 pages Clearly, Jennifer Weiner is doing something right. With best seller after best seller, she’s obviously got a gift. So, why do most of Weiner’s books leave me feeling sort of underwhelmed? Perhaps it’s because the experience of reading them is like being inside of my own head. If… Read More

One Nation Taken Out of Another

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By Zackary Sholem Berger Apprentice House, 59 pages Anecdotal evidence suggests that Yiddish is on the rise, even as those well versed in the Eastern European tongue seem to be on the decline. And Zackary Sholem Berger’s new collection of poems demonstrates that the mamaloshen of the past is a sufficient medium with which to… Read More

Never Say A Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain

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By Jacqueline Jules Wisdom Tales, 32 pages Rare is the children’s book that, by virtue of its illustrations and story, can be vaulted into the ranks of the classics, those stories such as “Where the Wild Things Are” that can cross across generational divides and hold up to the discerning tastes of ever-fickle toddlers. “Never… Read More

50 Children

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By Steven Pressman Harper, 296 pages Britain justly gets credit for taking in 10,000 European Jewish children between 1938 and 1940 in a project called the Kindertransport. The United States admitted only about 1,000 unaccompanied children, and 50 of them, one in 20, were brought in by one Philadelphia couple, Jewish socialites Gil and Eleanor… Read More

The Lion’s Gate: On the Front Lines of the Six Day War

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By Steven Pressfield Sentinel, 430 pages Israel’s spectacular triumph over the combined forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria nearly five decades ago has been written about extensively by both Israeli and American writers. In “The Lion’s Gate,” author Steven Pressfield focuses on the human dimensions of the conflict: the thoughts, feelings and gut-level fears of… Read More

The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World

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By George Prochnik Other Press, 390 pages In 1938, Vienna Jew Stefan Zweig was the world’s most widely translated living author and a literary superstar. ­Second son of a wealthy family, Zweig began writing before World War I and appeared often in Neue Freie Presse, newspaper of Theodor Herzl — Zweig’s mentor for a time…. Read More

The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl

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By Arthur Allen W.W. Norton & Company, 400 pages While it can be hard to find positive stories from World War II, Arthur Allen tells a gem of a tale. While uprisings such as the one that took place in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 are well documented, resistance in scientific labs is not as… Read More

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman

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By Eve Harris Black Cat, 371 pages Long-listed for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, “The Marrying of Chani Kaufman” by first-time novelist Eve Harris takes the reader behind the scenes and into the lives of 19-year-old Chani Kaufman, her fiance, Baruch Levy, and Rabbi Chaim and Rebbitzin Rivka Silbermann, who counsel the young couple on… Read More

Menachem Begin, The Battle for Israel’s Soul

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By Daniel Gordis Schocken, 320 pages Daniel Gordis calls Menachem Begin “the most Jewish of Israel’s prime ministers” and a leader now much missed. “I wrote this book to find out why,” said Gordis, also a rabbi and senior vice president at Shalem College in Jerusalem. How could “someone so polarizing, so controversial … appear… Read More