“Jews have been on the wrong end of the gun, the crossbow, and the sword forever,” a man tells Dan Baum over breakfast in Baum’s new book “Gun Guys: A Road Trip.” That man — Aaron Zelman, founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, “an organization widely revered by gun-rights activists as so absolutist that it made the NRA look like a bunch of milk-and-water sissies,” as Baum explains — goes on to describe the moment his life changed. He was 43-year-old brassiere salesman and one night, after putting their children to sleep, his wife asked him, “What is it you really want to do?” Zelman’s answer was simple: “I want to destroy gun control.”
I felt my blood pressure skyrocket this morning when I learned that nonfiction wunderkind-turned-pariah Jonah Lehrer was given $20,000 for a mea culpa sermon at the Knight Foundation’s Media Learning Seminar, addressing the Bob Dylan quote-fabrication scandal in which he was embroiled last year. My sister-in-law — a fellow freelance journalist who sent me the news with the note “Makes my blood pressure rise” — had the exact same response. I didn’t stew listlessly after reading the article, however. I took out my calculator and went to work.
Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity
By Joel Stein
Grand Central Publishing, 304 pages, $26.99
On the day of Moshe Kasher’s bris, his grandfather held him in his hands and declared, “This boy will be a great rabbi, I can see into his soul.” The old man’s prophesy almost came true. One of his grandsons did grow up to become a rabbi: Moshe’s brother, David. Moshe, meanwhile, grew into a brash, fast-talking standup comedian who sports a haircut that, as he says, is just gay and Hitler-esque enough to be called “the Gitler.”