Thursday April 23rd, 2009

Jews and Power by Ruth R. Wisse

power-725065Recommended by Ari in Portland, Oregon.
As an American Jew, I often feel farther removed from European and Middle Eastern Jews and Judaism than I’d like. My grandparents were born in Eastern Europe, survived the Holocaust, worked the land in a nascent Israel, and then moved to Chicago in the 1950s. I’ve recently been making an effort to better comprehend what it means to be Jewish (perhaps it’s that Jewish guilt) in this day and age, and happened upon Ruth R. Wisse’s excellent book Jews and Power. In just 200 pages, Wisse, a Harvard Professor, discusses the history of the Jews from a political perspective with an understanding and purpose that far eclipses the brevity of the book. I gained more insight into Jewish history, thought, and contemporary politics in this book than I’ve gotten out of much longer books on similar subjects.