The Will to Live on: This Is Our Heritage

Herman Wouk, Author
Herman Wouk, Author HarperCollins $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-019608-0
Paperback - 318 pages - 978-0-06-095562-5
Paperback - 440 pages - 978-0-06-095588-5
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-203692-6
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In the 1950s, sensing a drifting of Jews away from their tradition, novelist Wouk (The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, etc.), an observant Jew, wrote This Is My God, a classic primer on Jewish belief and practices, to draw some of the curious back. Nearly half a century later, with the American Jewish community concerned with high rates of intermarriage, Wouk brings out this companion volume, a whirlwind tour of Jewish history and sacred texts. It is, he writes, his ""view that any hope for our long future [lies] in a massive return to our sources, in faith, in literature, and in history."" Despite its brevity, the text succeeds in conveying the large arc of 2,500 years of Jewish history and the grandeur of the Hebrew Bible and prophets, the ""exalted challenge"" of studying the Talmud and the complex questions of identity facing Jews today, whether in Israel or in the Diaspora. He writes with great love of his tradition and with a becoming modesty about his own impressive scholarship. He draws on incidents from his life to illustrate various points; for instance, regarding the inevitable conflict in the modern mind between rationalism and religion, he describes a meeting between two of his mentors: the philosopher Irwin Edman of Columbia University and Wouk's grandfather, an unworldly Talmudic scholar. Wouk discusses all these issues clearly without oversimplifying them; he confronts head on, for example, the dilemmas facing Zionism in an age when Israel is a military power and a mature, internally divided country. This fine volume deserves to become a classic alongside its predecessor. (Mar.)
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