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Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of New York (Modern Jewish History) Paperback – October 1, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Jewish History
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press; New edition edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815604114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815604112
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I thought this book did a wonderful job of describing the people behind the names, money, and power of these families. It provided a detailed, colorful history of how the founding family members came to this country; the trials and tribulations they encountered along the way; and how they overcame all of these things on their way to achieving thier ultimate financial and social status. The story of these families personifies the American dream - That a strong will, intelligence, and hard work are the keys to success. In addition, the book sheds light on the social, class, and religous biases that were perpetuated by the success of these families, biases that remain in place today within the Jewish community.
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Format: Paperback
This was a very interesting account of the German-Jewish experience in the United States from the mid 19th century through the mid 20th century. It looks carefully at how a number of families rose stratospherically into the nation's financial elite within a short period of time. While the families were assimilated on some levels (particularly with respect to economic achievement), they clung to their German roots on other levels (as demonstrated by their American-born children being schooled in the German tradition, and by certain political views). Many members of this group saw themselves as being German before being Jewish, and this set up an intra-religious "pecking order" (a member of this group marrying a non-German Jew was apparently out of the question). I only wish that the book would be updated, as it ends in the late 1950s.
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By A Customer on July 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
A very interesting history of the great Jewish families of New York. Birmingham flings the door open on some of the most reclusive and secretive oligopolies in business history. Not only is it an eye opening history of the German jews in New York but it is engaging and interesting to read. It does not read like a textbook. Birmingham has really done his homework. If you want to learn about some real eccentric/succesful personalities and about the German jewish families ofNew York, this is the best book on the subject.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful book chronicling the Jewish equivalent to "The 400", those wealthy (gentile) society people who were NYC's upper-crust in the last half of the 19th Century to the beginning of the 20th. "Our Crowd" was made up of hyper-wealthy bankers who helped build this nations railroads, banking system and even helped fund GM. Largely unsung, the Seligmans, Kuhns, Loebs, Goldmans, Lehmans, Guggenheims et al rivaled and, in some cases surpassed the Morgans, Astors, Vanderbilts, Fishes et al.
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Format: Paperback
I was so impressed by this book...It's a true tour de force and made me aware of so much about which I had had no idea. I had never known about such important facets of Jewish experiences in NYC and its environs. I recommend this book to everyone! The ways in which Jewish people lived, the important stories Mr. Birmingham chooses to tell, all reflect a felt sensitivity to Jews, which I admire greatly. If you know of anything in the book which is not accurate, I would like to be informed, though it seems immensely well-researched. I'm a critical thinker, however, and welcome corrected information. It seems Mr. Birmingham has not been sufficiently praised, as I have had six years of post BA coursework and never had the luck of seeing his work. May the Jewish people thrive wherever they may be."Our Crowd": The Great Jewish Families of New York (Modern Jewish History)
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Format: Kindle Edition
Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of New York was first published in 1967. I was expecting a fascinating read, only to discover that halfway through the book I did not wish to continue. It was tedious. The majority of the book is about business, not about family and social matters. Hence, it's a great read for anyone wanting an easy way to learn how many German Jews in America became so wealthy. Since I had to review the book, I did continue reading and did find the second half more interesting. Besides more family and social stuff, there was also a good look at how the well-off German Jews felt about and dealt with the much poorer "Russian" Jewish immigrants. In addition, there was the matter of World War II, and how the German Jews so sadly had to realize their love and longing for Germany had to end. At least where modern Germany was concerned.

The end of the book was a bit of a "what happened" to some of the families, but that part was dated and confusing. With all the families and all the intermarrying, I sometimes had no idea who the author was talking about, even though they were mentioned earlier in the book. Author Stephen Birmingham obviously did his research and knew his subjects well; but I'm not sure he had a good grasp of who the readers of the book might be; not taking into account that those who like to read about family and social life, may not be that keen on reading about business life, and vice versa. Or that readers might not have a memory as good as his about who was who in the great Jewish families of New York.

(Note: I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
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