Books

Review: Israel is real

By Adam Lebor, December 3, 2009

By Rich Cohen
Jonathan Cape, £15.99

Rich Cohen clearly likes tough Jews. His first book — actually called Tough Jews — was a study of Jewish gangsters in New York in the early 20th century.

Those tough Jews were followed by more in The Avengers, which recounted the story of three Jewish partisans in Lithuania, one of them his cousin.

Like many Jewish writers, Cohen is fascinated by the tension between the careful studiousness of the People of the Book, their devotion to family and good works, and their shtarker — tough guy — darker side.

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Review: Trotsky: A Biography

By David Cesarani, November 26, 2009

By Robert Service
Macmillan, £25

In 1918, Leon Trotsky was “the most famous Jew on earth”, second only to Lenin in the new Soviet government. His meteoric career fascinated those who yearned for freedom and justice, while it terrified the defenders of property and the status quo. To millions of Jews, his success was both an inspiration and a curse.

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Review: The Invention of the Jewish People

By David Goldberg, November 26, 2009

By Shlomo Sand (Trans: Yael Lotan)
Verso, £18.99

Because the state of Israel has always seen itself as embattled, and because Zionism is such a contentious ideology, it is often impossible to have a reasoned debate about other aspects of Jewish culture, religion and history without contemporary Middle East geopolitics obtruding.

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Review: King Dido

By David Herman, November 19, 2009

By Alexander Baron
New London Editions, £9.99

It is almost exactly 10 years since Alec Baron died. He was one of the outstanding Anglo-Jewish writers of the post-war period. The Guardian called him “the greatest British novelist of the last war” and his novel From the City from the Plough sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

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Vu: The story of a Magazine That made an era

By Melanie Abrams, November 19, 2009

By Michel Frizot and Cedric de Veigy
Thames and Hudson, £40

Before television was de rigueur in the living room, it was the picture magazines that showed what was happening around the world. Vu, the subject of this new book, was one of the most popular, fascinating an estimated 450,000 readers with its incisive photographic stories and eye-catching front covers of people and events from Paris to Shanghai.

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Books about The Book

By David Herman, November 12, 2009

The Chosen
By Chaim Potok
Penguin Modern Classics, £9.99

My Name Is Asher Lev
By Chaim Potok
Penguin Modern Classics, £9.99

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Review: Day After Night

By Madeleine Kingsley, November 12, 2009

By Anita Diamant
Simon & Schuster, £12.99

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Revealed: con-tricks we are all falling for

By Monica Porter, November 12, 2009

Lying politicians, misleading adverts, dodgy estate agents, cheating traffic wardens… which of us is not sick of the endless deceptions, both big and small, to which we are subjected nowadays? But mostly we just shrug our shoulders, or fume impotently.

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Review: A State Beyond the Pale

By David Conway, November 5, 2009

By Robin Shepherd
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £16.99

The Middle East conflict is being played out in two theatres. One is on the ground, where territory is won or ceded, lives lost and bodies wounded and maimed. The other is in the air-waves and in print, in university lecture theatres and trade union congresses. Here, it is minds that are lost and won.

However well Israel has managed in the former, recent years have seen it steadily losing ground in the latter in the face of a mounting campaign of vilification from a growing and ever more audible chorus.

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Is it all just hate-filled ignorance?

By Lawrence Joffe, November 5, 2009

Are Jews everywhere really facing a serious resurgence of antisemitism? Does every spike in anti-Israel sentiment disguise eternal loathing against Jewry? Or is that just alarmist guff, and might current animus simply reflect passing anger at Israeli operations?

Into this fray leaps William Rubinstein, author of Israel, the Jews and the West — the Fall and Rise of Antisemitism (Social Affairs Unit, £10), a curious blend of arresting analysis and at times offensive generalisation.

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