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A Coat of Many Colors: Dress Culture in the Young State of Israel (Israel: Society, Culture, and History) Hardcover – March 1, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1934843888 ISBN-10: 1934843881

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Editorial Reviews


Well-documented with an impressive bibliography, Anat Helman's book, A Coat of Many Colors, is an easy-to-read account and analysis of dress fashions among Israel's immigrants and residents in the country's first years. I enjoyed this book very much—it's fun to read and clearly demonstrates how clothing and dress are integral aspects of social and cultural history. —Joanne B. Eicher, Editor-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion

With her superb eye for detail and her ability to tell a good story well, Anat Helman has produced a marvelous history of the State of Israel's early days by studying its clothing culture. Through this approach Helman tells the history of the fledgling state's economy, illuminates the values of the kibbutz movement, the military, the government and Israeli private life and reveals much about gender roles and the East-West ethnic encounter and does so by examining the dress codes each of these spheres promoted and the ideological underpinnings for such choices. A Coat of Many Colors allows us to read Israeli culture in its formative phase in an entirely new light. This is cultural history at its finest and establishes Anat Helman as one of the most interesting and path-breaking historians of her generation. —John Efron, Koret Professor of Jewish History, University of California-Berkeley

“This is an important and well-written historic sociological study, which may interest researchers, students and the general public. The scope of primary sources, including photographs, texts and caricatures, is impressive and indicates thorough research. The author used a semiotic research method to analyse these sources and tried to ‘read’ the clothing as a language, while examining the attitude of people who lived during this period toward the Israeli dress culture. The book’s contribution is in that it skillfully connects between dress and society and vice versa, and uses dress to expose the social context of the State [of Israel] in its early years. It takes the reader on a fascinating journey of acquaintance with the array of social aspects during this period: culture, identity, ethnic relations, military, economy, religion, social boundaries, politics, generation and gender differences, trends of inclusion and exclusion, verbal and nonverbal communication, and more. . . . The book is recommended for anyone interested in fashion, moulding of the collective identity, the history of the State of Israel, and the emergent (informal) cultural pluralism in the early years of the state, as symbolically reflected in the coat of many colours of Joseph, beloved son of Jacob: one garment with many colours.” —Rachel Sharaby, Ashkelon Academic College and Bar-Ilan University, Israel, in Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, vol. 12, issue 2 (July 2013)

About the Author

Anat Helman (Ph.D. Hebrew University) is a lecturer in the Jewish History Department and the Cultural Studies Program at Hebrew University. Her most recent publications include: Tel Aviv’s Culture during the Mandate Era (in Hebrew) and The Voice of the First Hebrew City to its Residents: Municipal Posters in Mandate Era Tel Aviv, with Yael Reshef (in Hebrew, forthcoming in Israel).

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