Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America

Eric J. Sundquist, Author . Harvard/Belknap $35 (662p) ISBN 978-0-674-01942-3

Sundquist's mammoth study is a deeply researched and illuminating hard look at how the often positive, often fraught relationship between American Jews and blacks has manifested itself in literature, historical writing, sociology and popular entertainment over the past 60 years. Sundquist's wide-ranging erudition is evident on every page; he's as apt at finding points of dialogue among Harlem Renaissance writings, popular sociology of the 1930s and the later fiction of Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin and Bruce Jay Friedman as he is at discussing "black responses to Nazism" in the writings of Zora Neale Hurston. His interpretations of this complicated material are nuanced and necessarily tentative. A professor of literature at UCLA, Sundquist is most engrossing when delving into a specific work, such as Bernard Malamud's The Tenants or Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (where he expands his discussion to include the Leo Frank case as well as the Nazi attack on jazz); the author is also compelling when he carefully elucidates his themes and arguments. Still, while this material will be of great interest to scholars of Jewish and African-American history and culture, the sheer mass of information, ideas and theoretical constructs may be overwhelming for the general reader. 11 b&w photos. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Paperback - 662 pages - 978-0-674-03069-5
Ebook - 673 pages - 978-0-674-04414-2
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