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  • Books for children and teens

    September 5, 2012 | 11:49 am

    “Oh No, Jonah!”

    by Tilda Balsley, illustrated by Jago (Kar-Ben: $7.95)Oh no, Jonah!

    Those parents and teachers looking for a new twist on the story of Jonah (read yearly on Yom Kippur) need look no more. This latest version from children’s author Tilda Balsley sticks to the biblical text...

  • The illusion of a solution

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    September 5, 2012 | 10:50 am

    Of all the incendiary books that have been written about Israel over the last year or so, none is quite as fiery as "Israel: The Will to Prevail" by Danny Danon (Palgrave Macmillan: $26).

    Danon is a young activist in the Likud Party and serves as deputy speaker of the Knesset. He...

  • Distinct voices

    August 27, 2012 | 11:15 am

    A cantata is a musical composition typically composed of solos, duets, and other forms for voice, sung with instrumental accompaniment. Thus framed, the title of Jeffrey Lewis’s latest novel, “Berlin Cantata” (Haus, $15, ISBN 978-1-907822-43-8), aligns nicely with the book’s...

  • Mickey Cohen’s colorful life of crime

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    August 22, 2012 | 4:08 pm

    Meyer Harris Cohen was born in the Jewish Pale of Settlement in imperial Russia, immigrated with his family to the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn and reached Los Angeles’ Jewish point of entry in Boyle Heights in 1915. Up to this point, the spare details of his biography are...

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  • Families reading together: Two summer novels for children

    August 14, 2012 | 11:00 am

    When was the last time your fifth grader read a book written in free verse? How about a children’s version of life in Stalinist Russia?  These two very unusual novels for young people from two Los Angeles children’s authors make excellent summer reads and particularly good...

  • A son and his Jewish mother

    July 31, 2012 | 10:00 am

    A pervasive Jewish mythology has always idealized the mother-son relationship.  But Proust knew better.  Shortly after his mother’s death, he wrote an article in Le Figaro about a man who bludgeoned his mother to death and attempted to speculate what might have ignited this man’s...

  • Ellen Levy’s unlikely quest to find herself in the Amazon

    July 27, 2012 | 10:00 am

    “Amazons: A Love Story” (University of Missouri Press: $24.95) is a highly unusual, poignant coming-of-age saga by a half-Jewish writer nearly off the scale in candor and braininess. Her name is E.J. (Ellen) Levy. My bet is that any lover of words who takes the time to read her...

  • Re-examining Twain’s work, Clemens’ life

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    July 25, 2012 | 11:07 am

    Ira Fistell is a familiar and even beloved figure in the Los Angeles radio market, where he long served as an exceptionally amiable, thoughtful and well-informed talk-show host on subjects ranging from politics and religion to vintage trains and Mississippi steamboats. Along with...

  • ...With liberty, justice and religion for all

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    July 11, 2012 | 12:10 pm

    The biblical reference in the title of Stephen Prothero’s “The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation” (HarperOne: $29.99) is purely metaphorical. Although Prothero is a professor of religion and the best-selling author of “Religious Literacy” and...

  • Israel in the eyes of Harvey Pekar

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    July 5, 2012 | 4:47 pm

    Ever since Art Spiegelman’s “Maus” won a Pulitzer Prize, no apologies need to be made for the aspirations of comic book artists to enter the realm of literature.  R. Crumb, for example, recently rendered nothing less exalted than the Book of Genesis as a graphic novel.  And...

  • Asking God and Allah to talk

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    June 20, 2012 | 2:08 pm

    Journalist and filmmaker Ruth Broyde Sharone is an activist and a visionary in what she calls “interfaith engagement,” but she is also a realist, which makes her something of a rarity among those Jews who still hold out hope for rapprochement between Jews and Muslims in the...

  • Dennis Prager: Man of hard truths

    By David Suissa

    June 20, 2012 | 11:48 am

    As I was reading Dennis Prager’s new book, “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph,” I found myself increasingly frustrated. The words themselves didn’t bother me; rather, it was that silly contraption I was holding in my hands, what’s known as...

  • Bookmark These for Summer Reading

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    June 13, 2012 | 12:10 pm

    Summer is here, and the time is right for touring authors. Here are the highlights of the season for poolside and airplane reading, including some local appearances by the authors themselves.


    The premise of Joel Stein’s “Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity” (Grand...

  • Hebrew books to help Israeli-Americans preserve their heritage

    June 6, 2012 | 1:07 pm

    Naomi Western, who works with the Jewish Agency for Israel, worries that her two young children may lose the connection to their Israeli heritage once they start attending local public schools.

    Joining more than 2,000 other families nationwide, Western has enrolled her family in...

  • Himmler’s brain

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    June 6, 2012 | 11:38 am

    Not long ago, I reviewed Peter Longerich’s benchmark biography of Heinrich Himmler in these pages—a work of meticulous and compelling scholarship about the master architect of the Final Solution, a mostly ordinary human being whose claim on history is that he succeeded in putting...

  • Himmler’s Brain

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    June 6, 2012 | 11:38 am

    Not long ago, I reviewed Peter Longerich’s benchmark biography of Heinrich Himmler in these pages—a work of meticulous and compelling scholarship about the master architect of the Final Solution, a mostly ordinary human being whose claim on history is that he succeeded in putting...

  • ‘Columbus’ thriller uncovers explorer’s secret Jewish life

    May 30, 2012 | 11:09 am

    Was Christopher Columbus Jewish? And did he bury a treasure that, if discovered, would shake the political and cultural landscape of the Jewish state? This is the intriguing premise of the suspenseful and extensively researched novel, “The Columbus Affair” (Ballantine Books:...

  • Anne Frank, in her family’s eyes

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    May 23, 2012 | 5:53 pm

    Anne Frank, the single most famous name among the six million victims of the Shoah, entered the realm of history and literature with the posthumous publication of her own diary and has been used — and, some would argue, abused — by others who have depicted her on the stage and...

  • Intro to Israel considers what ‘Matters’

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    May 15, 2012 | 7:44 pm

    Much heated conversation is conducted in these pages and elsewhere in the media about Israel. We debate every aspect of Israel’s present and future — the ups and downs of its political leadership, the role of religion in the Jewish state, the path to peace with the Palestinians...

  • Love letter to Naples, warts and all

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    May 9, 2012 | 12:52 pm

    For me, no genre of literature is quite as enchanting or enriching as the travel memoir. Indeed, two of the titles on my own shortlist of favorite books — Bruce Chatwin’s “The Songlines” and Peter Matthiessen’s “The Snow Leopard” — are essentially travel books that...

  • ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ author Maurice Sendak dies at 83

    May 8, 2012 | 8:24 am

    Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of the children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are,” has died.

    Sendak, who wrote and illustrated more than 50 children’s books, died Tuesday at the age of 83. He reportedly had suffered a stroke on May 4.

    [JewishJournal.com profiled Sendak in...

  • Publisher brings Jewish wisdom to a Web site or e-book near you

    By Laura Donney

    May 4, 2012 | 12:14 pm

    The rush of publishers into the e-book market became a tidal wave when Microsoft announced last week it was investing close to $300 million in e-textbooks.

    The Jewish world, not surprisingly, is joining in.

    Rethink Partners Publishing has introduced Sinai Live Books, an imprint...

  • Child Holocaust survivors speak up for those who can’t

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    May 2, 2012 | 11:38 am

    Only a precious remnant of Holocaust survivors is alive today, and many of them were just children when they went into hiding or ended up behind barbed wire. Indeed, there’s a heartbreaking irony in the fact that the last survivors are the ones who were the most at risk, precisely...

  • A.J. Jacob’s belly humor won’t hurt you

    April 29, 2012 | 12:00 pm

    A.J. Jacobs waits until the fifth page of his newest book, “Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection” (Simon & Schuster: $26), to mention his Jewish heritage. He repeats a line from a previous book of his: “I’m Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden...

  • Edgar Keret: All grown up

    April 27, 2012 | 1:54 pm

    Yesterday at the ophthalmologist I realized my eye doctor was looking deep into my eyes but couldn’t see me; not at all. My husband compulsively takes the same photograph over and over again unaware that no picture looks different from any other. My son has mastered the subtle art...

  • Joseph Roth: Letters from a visionary correspondent

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    April 25, 2012 | 3:59 pm

    Among the many Roths who figure importantly in Jewish letters — Henry, Cecil and Philip are only the most famous — perhaps the least celebrated is Joseph Roth.  As a novelist (“The Radetzky March”) and an essayist (“The Wandering Jews”), but even more crucially as a...

  • Choicest of the choice

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    April 18, 2012 | 1:25 pm

    Much has changed in the book business since the Los Angeles Times launched its Festival of Books 17 years ago, but the FOB — as it is fondly known — remains the premier event of the literary calendar for the more than 100,000 readers and writers who never miss it.

    The 2012...

  • Portrait of a Jewish family avenged

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    April 11, 2012 | 3:04 pm

    The victims of the Holocaust are most often recalled at their moments of agony and death. But it is also our duty to recall the richness of their lives before Europe fell under the shadow of Nazi Germany. What Hitler sought to destroy, after all, was not merely 6 million human lives...

  • Calendar Picks and Clicks: Apr. 14-20, 2012

    By Ryan Torok

    April 11, 2012 | 10:47 am

    For Yom HaShoah events, visit jewishjournal.com/yom_hashoah.

    SAT | APRIL 14

    “AN EVENING OF YIDDISH SONG”
    End Passover with Yiddish music and Chinese food. Singer-songwriter Mark Levy performs a diverse range of Yiddish music — classic folk songs, theater songs, and songs...

  • Probing the mysterious fate of the Romanovs

    By Jonathan Kirsch

    April 5, 2012 | 12:51 pm

    Over the many years I’ve spent bumping around the book business, I have introduced my wife, Ann, to a great many literary lions and lionesses, but nothing quite compares to the evening when we first met Dora Levy Mossanen at a book-signing for John Rechy at Dutton’s in Brentwood.

    ...
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