- Book Notes
American Jewish Life
Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting, by J. Hoberman and Jeffrey Shandler. New York: Jewish Museum in association with Princeton University Press, 2003. 334 pp. $49.95 (c); $35.00 (p). ISBN 0-691-11301-7 (c); 0-691-11302-5 (p).
Entertaining America looks at the relationship between the nation’s Jews and its entertainment media and surveys how Jews have participated in and been identified with American movies, radio, and television from the nickelodeon era at the turn of the twentieth century to the present day.
Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico, edited by Tomas Jaehn. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 2003. 100 pp. $39.95. ISBN 0-89013-466-9.
Two waves of immigration brought Jews to New Mexico, the first largely of German men in the 1840s and 1850s and the second of Eastern Europeans with the coming of the railroad to New Mexico in the 1880s. This book tells their stories.
A New Promised Land: A History of Jews in America, by Hasia Diner. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 166 pp. $11.95. ISBN 0-19-515826-1.
Hasia Diner reconstructs the multifaceted background and American adaptations of immigrant Jews. Starting from the arrival of 23 Jews in the New World in 1654, she traces the development of the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements, as well as relatng the history of the Jewish religious, political, and intellectual institutions in the United States.
Ancient World and Archaeology
Antiquity: The Civilization of the Ancient World, by Norman F. Cantor. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. 240 pp. $24.95. ISBN 0-06-017409-9.
Antiquity surveys occidental history from around 3500 BCE, when writing first emerged in the societies of what are present-day Egypt and Iraq, to the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century CE. The author traces the evolution of the societies and cultures that have left some imprint on our own institutions, focusing on political and cultural highlights, as well as low points, and their impact. Placing these achievements and failures in a modern context, he then considers what antiquity can tell us about our own times. [End Page 185]
Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East, by Martti Nissinen, with contributions by C. L. Seow and Robert K. Ritner. Writings from the Ancient World. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003. 273 pp. $29.95. ISBN 1-58983-027-X.
Prophecy was a widespread phenomenon, not only in ancient Israel but in the ancient Near East as a whole. This book gathers the available ancient Near Eastern, extrabiblical sources containing prophetic words or references to prophetic activities. Among the 140 texts are oracles of prophets, personal letters, formal inscriptions, and administrative documents from ancient Mesopotamia and the Levant from the second and first millennia BCE. In addition, the volume provides new translations of the relevant section of the Egyptian Report of Wenamon, and of various texts from Syria-Palestine.
The Rise and Fall of the Ancient Israelite States, by Martin Sicker. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003. 264 pp. $79.95. ISBN 0-275-98012-X.
By subjecting the biblical writings to a political analysis, instead of the critical literary analysis common to contemporary biblical studies, Martin Sicker constructs a plausible political history of the ancient Israelite states that takes into consideration the geopolitical realities that directly conditioned much of that history as well as the religious dimensions of Israelite political culture that played a critical role in it. He demonstrates that the ancient Israelite states were confronted by virtually every political dilemma, domestic and international, encountered by states and governments throughout the subsequent history of the world. The way they dealt with the issues, successfully or otherwise, is relevant to the complex issues faced by states and governments today.
Art, Music, and Film
Jewish Museums of the World, by Grace Cohen Grossman. Westport, CT: Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, 2003. 416 pp. $75.00. ISBN 0-88363-980-7.
This large format book, with more than 400 illustrations, 350 of them in color, features the prize collections of Jewish museums around the world, whose scope spans ceremonial to fine arts to history.
The Jews of Prime Time...