The topics of Edward Shapiro’s book span the gamut of the American Jewish experience: from the politics of American Jews, the nature of American Jewish identity, relations between Jews and blacks, and Jews and American capitalism. He discusses writer Herman Wouk; Patrick Buchanan and the Jews; John Higham’s interpretation of American anti-Semitism, Nathan Glazer’s view of American Orthodoxy, and the Jewishness of Sidney Hook.
Of particular interest is the author’s exploration of how American Jews have reconciled their dual identities as Americans and as Jews. These solutions has shaped the way Jews have voted, prayed, earned a living, married, and chosen a profession. America, Shapiro argues, has truly been different for Jews, but this difference has shaped the history of America’s Jews in unexpected and ironic ways. The fact that Jews have risen rapidly up the economic and social ladder and have become politically influential has not eliminated their insecurity and the sense they have of themselves as a marginal group.
Edward S. Shapiro is professor emeritus of history at Seton Hall University. He is the author of Letters of Sidney Hook: Democracy, Communism, and The Cold War and A Time for Healing: American Jewry since World War II , the final volume of the five-volume series, The Jewish People in America.