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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: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,300 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

Ms. Horn has written a wonderfully researched, compelling piece of historical fiction.
Judith Paley
The novel is a bit like a bad "Jane Eyre", except that Rochester is believable and interesting as a character before he is injured and falls under Jane's domination.
Amazon Customer
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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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By RaDadIndy VINE VOICE on April 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every step of this book strikes a false note. The female characters are almost all brilliantly talented and tough-as-nails. The men, including the nominal lead character, are inept and unfeeling. This approach is fine for chick-literature, but this book is aiming for quite a different genre.

Then there is the flat, unbelievable dialogue. None of the characters sound as if they live in the 1800's. None of them sound Southern. None of them sound military. None of them even sound Jewish. These are serious limitations in a civil war story focused on Jewish characters. (By the way, the Jewish angle was one of the main attractions for me).

How clumsy is the dialogue? Here is an example. An Irish civil war sergeant of no particular education launches into a half-page of dialogue describing the story of King Saul and the Prophet Samuel. His description includes phrases such as ""It was a bit hypocritical, I suppose. . . " "I suppose King Saul was never a particularly admirable sort. . ." "I suppose one has to imagine that at this point he was a bit mentally disturbed as well. . ." "I suppose one has to imagine what poor King Saul must have felt. . ." "though I suppose no one has to imagine that." Let's see, that's five "I suppose" phrases in a single paragraph, combined with two gratuitous uses of "a bit," combined with touchy-feely language ("imagine what poor King Saul must have felt") that is about as far away from an Irish civil war sergeant as you can get. It's poor writing. It's poor editing.

As for the Judaism, the spirit and tone is consistently wrong. None of these "Jewish" characters participates in daily prayers. None studies, or seems to have any knowledge of, the Talmud.
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