Books

Review: A Film By Spencer Ludwig

By Jonathan Beckman, August 12, 2010

By David Flusfeder
Fourth Estate, £11.99

Spencer Ludwig is a middle-aged, balding director of films that garner praise from the critics though little commercial interest. He lives in London, doting on his enthusiastic if demanding daughter and playing a great deal of internet poker. His father, Jimmy, lives in New York with Spencer's stepmother, where he watches boxing on TV and conducts a campaign of attritional brooding against his wife.

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Review: British Jews with a separate identity

By Ruth Rothenberg, August 4, 2010

Jewish Refugees from Germany and Austria in Britain 1933-1970
By Anthony Grenville
Vallentine Mitchell, £45 (pb £19.95)
reviewed by Ruth Rothenberg

Between 1933 and the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, over 60,000 Jews fled to Britain from Nazi Germany and, later, nazified Austria and Czechoslovakia. Some went on to the USA and other countries but nearly 50,000 stayed.

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Review: Bagels and Bremner

By Jessica Elgot, August 4, 2010

Promised Land: The reinvention of Leeds United
By Anthony Clavane
Yellow Jersey Press, £16.99
reviewed by Jessica Elgot

Bill Fotherby, A former Leeds United director, told Anthony Clavane, author of Promised Land, that “there would be no Leeds United without the Jews”. As Clavane later points out, Fotherby was also the man who claimed that Diego Maradona was bound for Elland Road, but this time there was truth in his words. Leeds had Jewish directors long before Tottenham Hotspur did.

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Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Michelene Wandor, July 28, 2010

By Rebecca Skloot
Macmillan, £18.99

'Hela" is the native name for Sri Lanka. It is also a seaside resort in Poland. HeLa, however, is a shorthand reference to the "world's first immortal cells" - taken from the virulent cancer which killed their unknowing, black donor, Henrietta Lacks, in 1951.

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Review: The Finkler Question

By Anthony Julius, July 28, 2010

By Howard Jacobson
Bloomsbury, £18.99

The Finkler Question is very funny, utterly original, and addresses a topic of contemporary fascination. That is to say, it is about the anguish of middle-aged men, it consists of a series of loosely arranged episodes rich in argument and incident, and it examines how Jews now interrogate their relations with Israel.

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Capitalism and the jews

By Amos Witztum, July 22, 2010

By Jerry Z Muller
Princeton University Press, £16.95

The title of this book is borrowed from a lecture given by Milton Friedman in 1972, in which he noted that, in spite of the fact that capitalism has been so good for the Jews, they seem consistently to oppose it. The implicit objective of Jerry Muller's quartet of essays is both to correct and explain Friedman's assertion and to highlight the complexity of the relationship between Jews and capitalism.

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Review: Witz

By David Herman, July 22, 2010

By Joshua Cohen
Dalkey Archive Press, £14.99

Like many of the best young Jewish-American writers, Joshua Cohen lives in Brooklyn. Witz - sub-titled The Story of the Last Jew on Earth- is his fifth book and without doubt the longest and most difficult.

There are three problems with it that, leaving aside the excessive length, are likely to hobble your progress to the last of its 800-plus pages.

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Violence vividly detailed

By Winston Pickett, July 15, 2010

Ways of Staying
By Kevin Bloom
Portobello Books, £12.99

The Good Soldiers
By David Finkel
Atlantic, £14.99

These two books go behind the international headlines to demonstrate that there are no easy answers to the world's most vexing conundrums. Kevin Bloom's subject is South Africa; David Finkel deals with the American "surge" in Iraq. After reading their books, no news report on either country will seem the same again.

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A History of the Board of Deputies, 1760-2010

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 15, 2010

By Raphael Langham
Vallentine Mitchell £35

The writer of an official history faces multiple dilemmas. Should the history be focused narrowly upon the institution, or seek to place the institution within some wider context? Should the institution's archives dictate the shape of the history, or should a broader range of original sources be consulted? Above all, should the history be sanitised and celebratory or frank and critical?

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The power of wisdom

July 8, 2010

My Happiness reads very much like a journey of discovery. Can you say something about your own journey in writing it?

Taha Muhammad Ali's poetry was what sent me out on this trail: when I first encountered it, through my husband Peter Cole's translations, like thousands of other readers I was immediately fascinated by its humanity, wisdom, humour, vital music and rich relationship to place - a place, I should say, that both is and isn't the place I also call home.

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