Ellis Island to Ebbets Field: Sport and the American Jewish Experience

Peter Levine, Author Oxford University Press, USA $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-19-505128-5
Levine, a professor of history at Michigan State, here composes a valuable footnote to American sports history. He begins by pointing out that Eastern European Jews traditionally honored scholarship and learning over athletic prowess; in his apt phrase, they were ``people of the book rather than people of the hook, right cross, or home run.'' Arrived in America, the immigrant generation found their sons enchanted by sports, to the shock of most and the horror of some. By the 1920s, city-dwelling Jewish athletes had all but taken over the urban game of basketball, and they soon made their mark in boxing with long-time champion Benny Leonard. Stardom in baseball came later, but Hank Greenberg, the quintessential Jewish sports hero, made it all worthwhile in the 1930s. A chapter on Jews in intercollegiate sports between the world wars and other minor concerns seems unnecessary, but taken as a whole this book makes a major contribution to the field. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1992
Release date: 08/01/1992
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