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Shorter Book Reviews 117 What is most interesting and striking is that much that was written about the two countries in the past is still true today. Americans' valuing of efficiency and their independent spirit, the courtesy and politeness of service people, the cleanliness and beauty of cities, the layout of classrooms, the subjects students learned and the way they were taught, as wellas many other aspects of life in America all received positive comments and admiration. Chinese perceptions of America were not all favourable. On the one hand, the Chinese recognized the aforementioned strong points and, on the other hand, there were things they frowned on: the showing of affection between male and female in the street, Americans' attitudes toward the aged, their individualism, their preoccupation with consumption, their seeking for pleasure and their discrimination against people of color. The twentieth century saw an increasing criticism of American society as closer contact developed, with writers staying longer in the United States, observing more closely and understanding more. As America became more and more familiar to the Chinese, the accounts became more and more objective. While Land Without Ghosts helps American to viewthemselves more objectively, it also presents Chinese reflections of themselves through America. Today, as China strives to modernize itself, it should avoid two extreme assumptions: that America is a perfect model for China, and that America has too many problems for the Chinese to be able to learn from this model. It would be of particular interest to read, in conjunction with this book, similar accounts about China by Americans, to compare differing viewpoints and thus reach more objective perceptions ourselves. Jiakang Wu Department of History University of Western Ontario Andrew R. Heinze. Adapting to Abundance: Jewish Immigrants, Mass Consumption, and the Search for American Identity. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990. x + 276pp. Well-written, strikingly revisionist, and creative in its use of a wide range of primary source materials, Heinze's volume assesses the intersection of Jewish immigration, emergent consumerism, and material and popular culture in late-nineteenth-century America. Heinze analyzes in thirteen well-crafted 118 Shorter Book Reviews chapters both the process and products of acculturation and the impact of the latter upon the former as Old World Jews became Americans in New York City. In the author's view, the identity of these immigrants as Americans owed a great deal to their shrewd ability to embrace "a perspective of abundance" and identify consumerism as crucial to their assimilation. Jewish realization of social aspiration, therefore, occurred less on the mean streets of negotiation between labor and capital, than on the broad foundation of cultural exchange between 1880 and 1914. Heinze thus rejects the traditional designation by scholars of the American 1920s as the era of the great take-off in mass production, marketing and consuming. In five sections, he assesses the promise of abundance, the divinity and democracy of luxury, and the culture of advertising and marketing. Influenced by David Potter's People of Plenty (1954), Heinze argues that upon their arrival, most New York Jews sensed that abundance would shape the American future, and they adapted accordingly. In embracing the culture of consumer goods, however, these transplanted Eastern Europeans contributed to the decline of traditional Judaism. In the Old World environment of material scarcity, use and exchange of luxury items were restricted to important holidays like Sukkot, Chanukah and Passover. In the American context, special items of food, clothing and housewares lost their uniqueness; ownership of luxuries became a sign of American-ness; and the Sabbath became a shopping day. Jewish women, especially mothers, expedited this process. They took control of family consumption patterns, learning (as the balebost had in Europe) to discriminate among products and seek bargains, and enabled their children to adopt the mores of their new land. Two important aspects of acculturation were the leisure activities of "treating" on dates, by which young Jewish men revealed a carefree attitude toward money; and the family vacation, which swiftly overtook in institutional importance for ordinary families theatre, dances, movies and vaudeville. The family vacation, Heinze argues, was a democratizing agent--it embraced for all the immigrant vision of an earthly paradise, and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 117-119
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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