Daniel Elkind


Self-Righteous Gentiles

By Daniel Elkind

Self-Righteous Gentiles
In the vast graveyard that is Europe, there lies a sacred plot reserved for the Weimar Republic — Germany’s bright but stillborn sanctuary for liberalism, libertinism and a host of other projected freedoms.Read More


A Yiddish Cat Still Laughing After Hot, Black Fire

By Daniel Elkind

A Yiddish Cat Still Laughing After Hot, Black Fire
Between his 1939 book of Yiddish poetry, “Yung Grin Mai” (“Young Green May”) and his caustic novella, “A Cat in the Ghetto,” lay the Holocaust: Skaryýsko-Kamienna, where Rachmil Bryks was born in 1912; Lodz, to which he was deported; Auschwitz, which he survived, and, ultimately, New York — where he died in 1974, though later interred in Jerusalem.Read More


Galactic Talmudist: The Pebble That Started It All, Rolls Again

By Daniel Elkind

Galactic Talmudist: The Pebble That Started It All, Rolls Again
Between 1950 and 1969, Isaac Asimov became a publishing industry unto himself. From “Asimov’s Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan,” to “Isaac Asimov’s Book of Facts” and “Isaac Asimov’s Treasury of Humor,” he was celebrated as much for his success and prolificity as for his wit, curiosity and erudition. Photographers asked him to pose with his many books, and he obliged, wearing a grin both proud and credulous. On the cover of “Opus 100,” published in 1969 (Houghton Mifflin), he is pictured sitting at a desk between two endless stacks of books, sans notorious mutton chops, dressed in a suit and tie on the occasion of his 100th book in two decades. When Asimov appeared on “The David Frost Show,” the host asked if he believed in God. “I haven’t given it much thought,” he replied. But by then, “Dr. Asimov” had become a household name.Read More


Heard it Through the Grapevine

By Daniel Elkind

Heard it Through the Grapevine
As far as we know, Thucydides was the first to judge a society by its knowledge or ignorance of the fruit-bearing vine. Classifying a civilization according to its cultivation of grapes and olives, the father of the historiographical essay saw viticulture as a sign of emergence from “barbarism.”Read More


Every Word of Oscar-winning Oscar

By Daniel Elkind

Every Word of Oscar-winning Oscar
Strange as it is, “The Complete Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II” is, like its subject — and unlike its hero — a musical in its own right. Physically Broadway-sized (11.6 by 10.8 and 5.2 pounds) and visually mediocre, it seems destined for the coffee table or for the reference section of your local library. Plotwise, the story concerns an American lyricist of Jewish and Scottish descent, played by Oscar Hammerstein II. He drops out of law school, collaborates with Richard Rodgers (a Jewish classmate from Columbia University, like lyricist Lorenz Hart) to create some of the most successful musicals in Broadway history, and, in winning two Oscars, becomes the only Oscar to ever do so. From “The Peace Pirates” of 1916 to “The Sound of Music” just a year shy of his death, we follow the stage scion’s progress through 850 detailed excerpts as he wows and wins the loyalty of the theater-going public.Read More






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