Following the Trail of the Holocaust by Bullets
By Jack Fischel for Hadassah Magazine
Father Patrick Desbois’s first book, The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest’s Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews, a National Jewish Book Award winner, documented the murder of 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine during the Shoah. In Broad Daylight continues to follow that trail, with Desbois demonstrating that the mass killings of Jews in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Poland and Moldova, following the Nazi invasion in June 1941, were not random.
My Mother's Son: A Novel by David Hirshberg
Review by Renita Last for Jewish Book Council
My Mother’s Son is a moving coming-of-age story spiced with dark family secrets, historical references, dirty politics, and poignant immigrants’ tales that beautifully evoke life in 1950s Boston.
Now a successful radio raconteur, Joel reminisces about his childhood and the years beyond. “When you’re a kid,” he laments, “they don’t always tell you the truth.” This is the account of how the thoughtful, clever, and open narrator finds and unfolds the truths that were woven into the lies, exaggerations, and family lore he’s been told.
Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel by Matti Friedman
Review by Ari Hoffman for Jewish Book Council
Matti Friedman is one of Israel’s most perceptive contemporary chroniclers, and his books and articles are quickly becoming indispensable for understanding how the Jewish State’s past is creating its emergent future. With an understatedly luminous prose style, Friedman also has an eye for that which is overlooked, but far from irrelevant. In The Aleppo Codex (2012), hetold the elegiac story of what was once one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. Pumpkinflowers (2016), a history-slash-memoir of Friedman’s time in the Israel Defense Forces, shone a necessary spotlight on Israel’s long engagement in Lebanon, which has shaped the country and the region even as it hasn’t garnered the attention it deserves. His piece “An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth” (2014) is a defining look at the fraught issue of how Israel is covered in the media.
Meet National Jewish Book Award Winner Rebecca Erbelding
Jewish Book Council
Rebecca Erbelding’s Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe is the winner of the 2018 JDC-Katzki Award for Writing Based on Archival Material. Rescue Board is the first systematic, historical treatment of the War Refugee Board, the only official American response to the Nazi massacre of the Jews. Meticulously researched and utilizing almost exclusively archival resources, Erbelding has written a dramatic, poignant, and highly readable book. The panel judges write: “The book makes a critical and invaluable contribution to the historiography of World War II and the Holocaust, while further complicating our understanding of American responses to the murder of Europe’s Jews.”
America’s Jewish Women — From RG (Rebecca Gratz) To RBG
Julia M. Klein for The Forward
America’s Jewish Women: A History From Colonial Times to Today
By Pamela S. Nadell; W.W. Norton & Company, 336 pages, $28.95
In her swift-paced and concise history of American Jewish women, Pamela S. Nadell name checks all the usual suspects, from the Philadelphia philanthropist Rebecca Gratz and the poet Emma Lazarus to Betty Friedan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
She also writes more generally about women like my maternal grandmother, who worked alongside my grandfather during the Depression selling smoked fish and pickles from a barrel, and my mother, who pursued graduate education in the 1950s, only to settle unhappily into suburban homemaking.