Arts & Culture


Understanding the Philosopher of Auschwitz

By David Kaufmann

Adorno By Stefan Müller-Doohm; translated by Rodney Livingstone Polity Press, 667 pages, $75.


Adorno: A Political Biography By Lorenz Jäger; translated by Stewart Spencer Yale University Press. 248 pages. $35. * * *Although Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno was one of the two most prominent German philosophers of the postwar periodRead More


A New Name for an Old Crime

By Noah Strote

Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe By Benjamin Lieberman Ivan R. Dee, 416 pages, $27.50. * * *While Serb paramilitaries were driving Muslims from their homes in Bosnia during the spring of 1992 in an effort to rid the region of its “Muslim fundamentalist” population, Serb radio stations proudly coined aRead More


The Moses Between Egypt and Mendelssohn

By Ilan Stavans

Maimonides Sherwin B. Nuland. Schocken, 256 pages, $19.95. * * *Three Moseses have decisively shaped Jewish history. On one end is Moses the Egyptian, a lawgiver and political leader whose vision established the path for a monotheistic revolution, thus defining the spiritual boundaries of a people. On the opposite end is MosesRead More


Labor’s Loves Lost

By Paul Buhle

Paul Buhle is a senior lecturer in history and American civilization at Brown University.

A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists In New York By Tony Michels Harvard University Press, 352 pages, $27.95. * * *The tale of Jewish socialists on Manhattan’s Lower East Side offers one of those urban legends, alive with so many otherRead More


Looking for Inspiration in All The Wrong Places

By Rebecca Reich

Memoirs of a Muse By Lara Vapnyar Pantheon, 224 pages, $22.95. * * *Tanya, the heroine of Lara Vapnyar’s first novel, “Memoirs of a Muse,” and (as far as Tanya is concerned) of numerous masterpieces yet to be created, doesn’t claim to be an expert on literature, but when it comes to choosing among the 19th-century writers whose photosRead More


Curses Show Language’s Creativity

By Sarah Kricheff

Lita Epstein does not have a dirty mouth. Her pen, however, is filthy. Epstein’s forthcoming book, “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Say It in Yiddish” (Citadel Press), offers page after page of Yiddish insults and curses, some of which would make even the bawdiest of sailors blush.Read More


Jerry Lewis at 80

By Donald Weber

This may be hard to believe, but Jerry Lewis turns 80 on March 16. For more than 60 years, Lewis has loomed in our collective pop culture imagination as the perpetual “kid,” the 9-year-old “nudnik” to America: carrying on, driving us crazy, making us laugh — and wince.Whether you love or hate Lewis — and his utterly distinctive mode ofRead More


The Shadow That Never Went Away

By Gal Beckerman

Yaacov Herzog: A Biography By Michael Bar-Zohar Gardners Books, 384 pages, $27.10 * * *If the Oedipal complex didn’t exist, we might have to invent it to explain the frustrated, stunted career of Yaacov Herzog. A shadow hovered over him from the day he was born — his father, Isaac Halevi Herzog, was the brilliant chief rabbi of PalestineRead More


Skilled Craftsmen

By Henry Bean

Urim and Thummim. The ineffable name of God was inscribed on some unknown material and placed in the fold of the breastplate. — Soncino Chumash—So what we’re making is the breastplate, the ephod….—What’s an ephod?—Like the linen apron you hang the breastplate over…?—Oh, right.—… the robe,Read More


Sex, Lies and the German Occupation

By Andrew Furman

The Mercy Room By Gilles Rozier Little, Brown and Company, 192 pages. $22.95. * * *The scaffolding of Gilles Rozier’s taut, affecting novel, “The Mercy Room,” has all the makings of a Sunday evening television melodrama. The scene: a small town in France during the German Occupation. The hero and narrator: a French ChristianRead More


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