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Staub, Michael E.

Torn at the Roots

The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America

Series:Religion and American Culture


    41,95 € / $47.99 / £36.00*

    eBook (PDF)
    Publication Date:
    February 2004
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    Aims and Scope

    This book explodes the myth of a monolithic, liberal Judaism and tells the story of the many fierce battles that raged in postwar America over what an authentically Jewish position ought to be on issues ranging from desegregation to Zionism, and from Vietnam to gender relations, sexuality, and family life.


    392 pages
    38 illus 38 Fig.
    Professional and scholarly;

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    Michael E. Staub teaches English and American Studies at Bowling Green State University. He is the author of Voices of Persuasion: Politics of Representation in 1930s America. He lives in Ann Arbor, MI.


    Peter J. Haas:

    A window into just how complex the conservative - liberal split has been in the American Jewish community... It adds an important chapter to the story of what the American Jewish community is really like.

    Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University:

    Thoughtful, well-written and well-researched, this volume should be must reading for anyone seeking to understand what American Jews have been fighting about since the 1950s.

    Michael Rogin, University of California, Berkeley:

    In this wonderfully readable and compelling history, Michael Staub traces American Jewish political engagements from the early cold war through the sexual revolution, from Montgomery to Jerusalem.

    Deborah Dash Moore, Vassar College:

    In this stunning book... Staub recovers the epic struggles for the soul of American Jewry--its liberal vision of a better world--and reclaims a vital history for a new century. Anyone who wants to understand American politics and religion, and American Jews today, should read this book.

    Gad Nahshon:

    a vibrant history of the liberal quest for improving the world

    Marc Dollinger:

    Torn at the Roots will force important and powerful historiographic changes. It is a rich, well-researched, and intricate study.

    Nathan Abrams:

    Another welcome addition to the already large literature on the suprisingly tenacious adherence of Jews to liberalism.

    Beth Wenger:

    Staub's carefully researched and cogently argued book explores the evolution and complex dimensions of Jewish politics, calling into question many widely-held assumptions about Jewish liberalism.... [Torn at the Roots] offer[s] new insights into the dimensions of Jewish culture in postwar America.

    Marjorie N. Feld:

    Staub's work is important precisely because it records the history of competing visions of Jewishness.

    Masterful... A vibrant history of the liberal quest for improving the world, a history relevant for the present and future, and one which deserves wide reading and discussion.

    [Staub] challenges commonly held notions regarding the purported liberalism of US Jewry while underscoring the growing importance of spirituality for left-of-center Jews... This is an important work... highly recommended.

    Pamela S. Nadell:

    Torn at the Roots contributes significantly to our understanding of what Jewish identity meant to different groups of American Jews, those marching on the left, sitting in the establishment's center, and leaning towards the conservative right in the decades after the Holocaust.

    Staub explores divisions within Jewish liberalism during the Sixties and into the Seventies, showing that Jews have long differed in their stances on key political issues... recommended.

    Abraham J. Peck:

    [T]hrough Staub's book we have a much clearer and better appreciation for the depths of the intra-Jewish, internecine struggles that took place within the American Jewish community from the end of World War II until the end of the war in Vietnam. Torn at the Roots paints a sobering picture of a Jewish community torn by ideological conflict.

    Jewish liberalism and its history is a familiar subject, but this book by Michael Staub offers a great deal of new insight and information; indeed, it is arguably the best treatment of the rightward drift of the Jewish mainstream from the late 1940s to the early 1970s.

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