Tough Jews: Political Fantasies and the Moral Dilemma of American Jewry

Paul Breines, Author Basic Books $19.95 (277p) ISBN 978-0-465-08636-8
In place of the image of the Jew as morally sensitive outsider, a Woody Allen schlemiel or meek victim, according to Breines, a diametrically opposite self-image has emerged: the ``tough Jew,'' assertive, brashly confident, condoning political violence. A history professor at Boston College, Breines examines various tough-Jew personas: leftist, gangster, soldier, militant Zionist, cowboy of the American West. The legacy of this aggressive new self-image, he contends, is brutality, militarism, racism towards blacks and Arabs. The tough-Jew syndrome emerges in Philip Roth's pugilist fantasies and in Freud's identification with the ``Semitic general'' Hannibal. Rambo, a personification of the U.S. cult of violent masculinity, finds an echo in what Breines calls ``Rambowitz novels,'' some 40 works, mostly American, analyzed in this provocative, sure-to-be-controversial study, a startling rereading of Jewish history, past and present. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-465-08642-9
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