Tag: non-fiction

Book looks at Jewish taverns in Kingdom of Poland

Book Review: Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, & Life in the Kingdom of Poland. By Glenn Dynner. Oxford University Press, 2014. Despite various expulsions, evictions and repressive tax measures meant to force them out of business, Jewish-run taverns were a ubiquitous presence in Poland from roughly the 17th to the late 19th centuries. Polish historians have often…

Three Minutes in Poland illuminates a lost world

Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film, by Glenn Kurtz. Trade paperback, 420 pages. Published 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. www.fsgbooks.com In the summer of 1938, the author’s American grandparents, David and Liza Kurtz, took a six-week European vacation that included a brief visit to a Polish town,…

World of Our Fathers endures as a classic

Irving Howe (1920-1993), the New York intellectual who was a zealous socialist all of his life, received what he called his fifteen minutes of fame from a remarkable scholarly achievement that seemed a world apart from his leftist political convictions. His book, World Of Our Fathers, which was published in 1976, became a national bestseller…

Review: Joseph Anton, A Memoir, by Salman Rushdie

From the Canadian Jewish News, January 2013 London-based writer Salman Rushdie was happy to sell his novel The Satanic Verses to Viking Penguin in February 1988. But six months after the novel appeared, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him for his blasphemous insult “against Islam, the Prophet and the Qur’an.” Instantly he became…

Jewish Name Changing in America

A Rosenberg by Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America, by Kirsten Fermaglich, New York University Press, 2018. Although Jewish name-changing was widespread throughout the United States and Canada throughout much of the 20th century, no one has studied this interesting phenomenon at book length until now.   The author, Kirsten…

William Fox: forgotten movie mogul

Review of The Man Who Made the Movies: The Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of William Fox, by Vanda Krefft Theda Bara (nicknamed ‘The Vamp’), one of Fox’s biggest stars, in a lavish 1917 production of Cleopatra. No known copy of the film survives. From the Canadian Jewish News, 2019 Although his surname appears in…

Jordan Peterson offers ‘constructive wisdom’

From the Canadian Jewish News, February 2019 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by Jordan B Peterson (Random House Canada) Jordan Peterson is a professor of psychology, most recently at the University of Toronto, with a thorough grounding in scientific literature, particularly in the biological sciences, psychology, and the nature of the human…

Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World

In his book Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World, Montreal author Marc Raboy points out that Guglielmo Marconi was the Bill Gates or Steven Jobs of his day, and was the world’s first champion of and visionary for not just global wireless communications, but two-way global wireless communications. Although associated primarily with the development…

A Second Look at Harari’s ‘Sapiens’ (2018)

Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has proven to be one of the most thought-provoking non-fiction books published in recent years. It’s such a stimulating book that I reread it recently. Originally written in Hebrew, the English-language version of Sapiens appeared in 2014 and quickly became a publishing sensation. Having dominated the…

Mary Berg and the Warsaw Ghetto

Four years ago, a Pennsylvanian antiques collector purchased a trove of old scrapbooks and photo albums at an estate sale in the town of Red Lion, Pa. The cache, which included hundreds of photographs including some taken in the Warsaw Ghetto between 1940 and 1943, cost only $10. Discovering that the material was related to…