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Jewish Journal

  • Turning the Shtetl’s image upside down

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    3 weeks ago

    The biggest challenge that Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern faces in “The Golden Age Shtetl: A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe” (Princeton University Press) is that he is working against more than a century of sentiment and nostalgia, a kind of collective fantasy that reached its...

  • Thrilling days of yesteryear

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    June 11, 2014 | 11:26 am

    Nothing links the three books described below except that each, in its own way, is so charming that I couldn’t resist opening it up and, having done so, couldn’t put it down.

    One of the treasures of American-Yiddish journalism was “A Bintel Brief” (“A Bundle of Letters”), an...

  • Gwen Edelman reappears with ‘Train to Warsaw’

    by Elaine Margolin

    June 6, 2014 | 1:03 pm

    Author Gwen Edelman remains shrouded in mystery.  In an age of relentless author promotion she has chosen to remain “virtually” invisible.  She has no website or Wikipedia page, and it is almost impossible to find out the sketchiest details of her personal biography.  I was able to...

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  • World of adventure for the bookshelf

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    May 28, 2014 | 2:16 pm

    The summer season offers some remarkable opportunities for face-to-face encounters with authors who are celebrated not merely for their celebrity but for the quality of their written work. To be sure, Kendall Jenner will be touting “Rebels: City of Indra: The Story of Lex and...

  • Turan’s pick of pics

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    May 28, 2014 | 10:21 am

    Film critic Kenneth Turan grew up in Brooklyn in the 1950s in an observant home, which means that he did not often enjoy a Saturday matinee at the Lowe’s Pitkin or the Brandt’s Sutter. “That said, I do have a vivid memory of sneaking out to see a vibrant, cleft-chinned Kirk Douglas...

  • A son’s love, and snooping

    by Dora Levy Mossanen

    May 23, 2014 | 10:36 am

    Those who have enjoyed Mona Simpson’s much-acclaimed first novel, “Anywhere But Here,” will not be disappointed by “Casebook” (Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95). Here, too, with her distinctive wry humor and razor-sharp voice, Simpson, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the winner of...

  • The making of a real spy

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    May 14, 2014 | 11:23 am

    Our idea of what spies actually do is deeply tainted by a century or so of novels and movies, some better than others but all of them fictional. “The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames” by Kai Bird (Crown, $26), by contrast, is the real thing.  And yet, for all of its...

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