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All Other Nights: A Novel Paperback – March 8, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 363 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 Reprint edition (March 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393338320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393338324
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A Civil War spy page-turner meets an exploration of race and religion in 19th-century America in Horn's enthralling latest. Jacob Rappaport, the 19-year-old scion of a wealthy Jewish import-export family, flees home and enlists in the Union army to avoid an arranged marriage. When his superiors discover his unique connections, he is sent on espionage missions that reveal an American Jewish population divided by the Mason-Dixon line, but united by business, religious and family ties. After being sent to assassinate his uncle in New Orleans on Passover, Jacob's next assignment proves even more daunting: marry the feisty Confederate spy Eugenia Levy. What starts out as a dangerous game for both Jacob and Eugenia ends up being a genuine romance, fraught with the potential for peril, betrayal, tragedy and redemption. Horn propels the love story at a thriller's pace; the mix of love and loyalty played out in a divided America is sublime. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Sometimes it only takes one night to change lives forever, often in ways that people only appreciate when reflecting from the distance of time. Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army, will forever ponder the age-old question asked around the Seder table: How is tonight different from all other nights? On Passover 1862, Jacob is ordered by a Union commander to kill his uncle (who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln), and this particular evening changes forever his view of religious tradition, love, and integrity. Horn, the award-winning author of The World To Come, has written a stunning historical novel that will challenge readers' preconceptions as they learn about the role of Jewish Americans during the Civil War. Her tale of Confederate Hebrew spies skillfully puts a new spin on a time period that has been researched and written about extensively. This timely book, coming on Lincoln's bicentennial year, is recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/08.]—Marike Zemke, Commerce Twsp. Community Lib., MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Dara Horn was born in New Jersey in 1977 and received her Ph.D. in comparative literature from Harvard University in 2006, studying Hebrew and Yiddish. In 2007 she was chosen by Granta magazine as one of America's "Best Young American Novelists." Her first novel, In the Image, published by W.W. Norton when she was 25, received a 2003 National Jewish Book Award, the 2002 Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and the 2003 Reform Judaism Fiction Prize. Her second novel, The World to Come, published by W.W. Norton in 2006, received the 2006 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, the 2007 Harold U. Ribalow Prize, was selected as an Editors' Choice in The New York Times Book Review and as one of the Best Books of 2006 by The San Francisco Chronicle, and has been translated into eleven languages. Her third novel, All Other Nights, published in 2009 by W.W. Norton, was selected as an Editors' Choice in The New York Times Book Review and was one of Booklist's 25 Best Books of the Decade. In 2012, her nonfiction e-book The Rescuer was published by Tablet magazine and became a Kindle bestseller. Her newest novel, A Guide for the Perplexed, is available in September 2013. She has taught courses in Jewish literature and Israeli history at Harvard, Sarah Lawrence College, and City University of New York, and has lectured at over two hundred universities and cultural institutions throughout North America and in Israel. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children.

Customer Reviews

Alas, even the sex is too tepid to entertain.
RaDadIndy
The book rides high on a good plot, though, and there is lots of plotting by the characters as well, especially those of the Booth variety.
Patti
I would highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and lovers of good literature.
Mom of Four Sons

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This review will not have any spoilers.

One of my favorite books is Dara Horn's first novel, In the Image. It's simply marvelous. Her next book, The World to Come, was also a winner although I didn't like it quite as much.

Having enjoyed those books I was really, REALLY looking forward to this one. And I am sorry to say that I was really disappointed with it and I was surprised that my reading experience was so different than so many other reviewers.

This is the story of a young Jewish man, Jacob Rappaport, who becomes a spy for the Union during the Civil War. He is chosen for this role because he has certain important family connections with people in high places in the Confederacy.

Jacob is sent on several morally ambiguous assignments, and he dutifully complies. He is eventually sent to stay with relatives who are suspected of being Confederate supporters and spies and his mission is to marry one of the young daughters. What he didn't count on was falling in love.

I did learn some interesting information in this book, especially about the roles and prevalence of Jews on both sides of the conflict during this war. I had no idea that the Confederate Secretary of State was a Jewish man named Judah Benjamin. What the author does well is show that despite allegiances to either side, Jews were still considered outsiders; often treated with derision and suspicion.

I also thought that the author did a good job of showing how good people can be put in complex and thorny situations where they have to make difficult moral choices - where no matter what they do, they do not come out with clean hands.

I did have some problems with this book, and one is that I thought that it bogged down in places.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By HardyBoy64 VINE VOICE on May 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
(May contain spoilers but you shouldn't read this book anyway).

Honestly, there is not a lot to like about this novel. The plotline is extremely convoluted and the characters are just not likeable. The men are lustful idiots and the women are conniving tricksters. The biggest problem, for me, was the very poor execution of the writing. There is so much repetition. The author can't describe a southern woman without having to mention "the errant curls" in her face and the thousands of times she has to tuck them behind the ear. The prose literally becomes funny near the end of the novel. Jacob, the protagonist, wonders many, many times that "it is all just a dream" and "it was as if he were in a nightmare". The funniest repeating description is after Jacob loses his eye and the myriad of funny lines that follow: "He couldn't take his eye off Jeannie", "the eyes of every man in the room bulged, including Jacob's remaining eye", "he squinted his remaining eye","...she said, glaring at his remaining eye" and "a picture unfurled before his remaining eye as he connected the dots..." (these repetitions are laughably numerous).

And I have to mention this funny line when the author writes "The corridor was lined with books, but the study was positively vomiting them" (p. 257) Too funny and quite painful, in my opinion.

Beyond the extreme repetition, the Jewish approach to the Civil War is handled very poorly, in my opinion. This topic seems original and full of potential, but the writing is so bad and the treatment of Jews in the war so trite, that it's a complete literary mess. Jacob comes to no spiritual understanding of what he's done and thus there is no redemption at all for his past sins. Judaism doesn't even matter to him in the end.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Judith Paley VINE VOICE on April 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The 'Four Questions' text asks "Why is this night different from all other nights?" Jacob Rappaport is assured in "All Other Nights" that "What you allow to happen on one night will happen on all other nights as well." Which is it? Jacob's redemption hangs in the balance.

Ms. Horn has written a wonderfully researched, compelling piece of historical fiction. Who thinks about Jews in America during the Civil War, much less Jews as spies or Confederates? If you'd like to go to a place and time about which you've not given a moment's thought, check out this book. Beautifully written, it's an absorbing read and thought-provoking as well. Ms. Horn joins Anita Diamant as a top-notch chronicler of Jewish life as it may well have been.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Phlogiston VINE VOICE on May 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There is a lot to like about this book, so I want to be concise. Hence, here's a list:

1) This is a unique view of the Civil War. It offers a look through the lens of Jewish views in both the Northern and Southern states and reintroduces some forgotten personalities (including Judah Benjamin) from the era. One forgets that Jews fought on both sides. One also forgets how hard Jews had to work to be accepted as Americans and how Jews have always had a very personal view of slavery and oppression due to both phenomenons existing in their past.

2) The book addresses the practice of espionage during the Civil War, a phenomenon often overlooked when discussing the topic. One often hears about code breaking during World War Two, spying missions during Vietnam and the endless drone and satellite surveillance that has been used in subsequent wars, one even hears about Nathan Hale when dealing with the Revolutionary War. However, during the Civil War, when families were divided and there were so many ways for information to be passed from North to South and South to North, one hears very little of how espionage played a role in the unfolding of the war. This book addresses the topic nicely.

3) This is a heart-rending tale of how families can be torn apart by war, and how even a husband and wife can find themselves on opposite sides of the battle lines. One always hears about divisions between brother and brother, between father and son, etc. This book is, perhaps, even more intimate when it shows how even fathers and daughters and husbands and wives can be split apart from one another.

4) There is a strong theme of redemption in this book.
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