THE JEWS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: An Illustrated History

Martin Gilbert, Author . Schocken $50 (376p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4190-7

Situated somewhere between a solid, intelligent primer and a luxurious coffee-table book, this 100-year chronicle of Jewish history, practice, culture, art and survival is informative, succinctly written and handsomely produced. Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill and noted historian, has written a text that carefully and lucidly intertwines an enormous range of people, events, themes and ideas. Simultaneously covering events in many cultures and countries—on one page he moves from a Jewish French officer who interpreted for the British during WWI to Jewish theological arguments supporting the draft in the U.S. and the work of Jews in Europe in their own national war efforts—he gracefully weaves a cohesive panorama of European and American history. But the backbone and glory of volume are its more then 350 photographs. While there are a plethora of head shots (perhaps more then needed)—from public figures such as Walter Lippmann and Walther Rathenau to feminists such as Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, Zionists such as Esther Cailingold and movie stars such as Goldie Hawn and Walter Matthau—many of the historical photographs are remarkable and astonishing: Jewish resistance fighters being rounded up as the Warsaw ghetto is in flames; a "Jewish" snowman created by Hitler youth, elderly Orthodox men drinking Pepsi at an Arab cafe after the Six Day War, Hollywood star John Gilbert sitting in a director's chair with his name spelled in Yiddish on the back and a rarely seen photo of a four-year-old Anne Frank and her sister. While the book is packed full with information, there are some curious omissions, such as theologian and civil rights champion Abraham Joshua Heschel and philosopher and historian Hannah Arendt. (Oct. 16)

Reviewed on: 09/17/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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