TribeWrite Literary Roundup – November 10.2005

Another week, another spate of literary reviews at TribeWrite. This past week and half featured longer reviews of the “10 Books You Should Be Reading” from the November/December issue of Atlanta Jewish Life. In addition we looked at some books by Hannah Arendt and a Jewish history reader.

  • If one were a Jewish artist in the first half of the 20th century, and one ended up on a South Pacific island doing tattoo work for 30 years, one might have a story as interesting as the fictional work by Jill Ciment, The Tattoo Artist.
  • Greil Marcus is a bit of a Bob Dylan nut, to be sure. He’s crafted an eminently readable mini-biography not just of Dylan but of his famous song “Like a Rolling Stone.” The real power of the book is its ability to draw connections between the song and larger popular culture.
  • In The Other Side of Israel, Susan Nathan tells of her personal journey from the streets of Tel Aviv to Tamra, a small village of Israeli Arabs that technically doesn’t exist (according to Israel’s registry). Not recommended for the World Zionist Organization reading list.
  • My personal favorite bit of history reading this week was a look at the boxing title rematch between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling on the eve of World War II. Talk about a sporting event taking on geopolitical proportions.
  • If you’ve never heard of the Gifford Lectures, you should grab this readable history of them: The Measure of God. The book dissects how the annual lectures on God, science and how the two can co-exist. As timely as ever, methinks.
  • Getting back to Israel, there’s something more to the liking of the AIPAC-set in The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Struggle for Media Supremacy. This one seeks to explain who Israelis get such a bum rap in the press, though it doesn’t spend as much time explaining why all Palestinians are equated with terrorism. Thus your mileage may vary, but as a dissection of how the media operates, especially on foreign soil, it’s a good read.
  • Finally we round up four solid history titles that you can take on your winter school break and feel all edu-muh-cated. Included are a couple titles from the eminent scholar Jonathan Sarna, along with one of Nextbook’s new series (this one on Maimonides) and a look at a rather slim subject… A History of Jews in the Modern World.
  • Wait, not so finally… Hannah Arendt is the controversial political thinker and philosopher who made waves with her coverage of the Eichmann trial in the early 1960s. It was she who coined the “banality of evil” and critiqued the Israeli government’s theatrics all at the same time. There are a couple volumes of her unpublished or extraneous writings for you to consume.

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