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The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement: The Compendium of a Culture, a People, and Their Stunning Performance Hardcover – November 16, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Exhaustive examination of Jewish achievement over the past 200 years.
Pease, who is not Jewish, explains that from a young age he has had an interest in and empathy for the Jewish people, and that many of his friends and colleagues are Jewish. However, simple curiosity led him to ask how such a tiny group of people could have such a major impact upon culture and society. The more the author researched the role of Jews in the modern world, the more impressed he became.
Pease explains that in a room filled with a thousand people representing the diversity of the globe, only two would be Jewish. Nevertheless, Jewish achievements belie those statistics. From the number of Nobel Prize winners, to the percent of students on Ivy League campuses, to the notables on various Greatest 100 lists of historical figures, Jews have a consistently strong showing despite their otherwise small world presence.
Though the author discusses Jews throughout history, his real focus is on the period since the Jewish Emancipation dating back to the age of Napoleon. At this point, Pease argues, Jews began to have greater opportunities to contribute to national and global cultures.
The bulk of the book is dedicated to documenting individual and collective Jewish achievements, from Milton Friedman to Barbra Streisand and from the Six-Day War to real estate development.
The author finally provides an analysis of this data, concluding that Jewish culture, above any other factor, has contributed to such high achievement. Cultural focuses on family, education, autonomy, moderation and charity have all contributed.
Readers may wish Pease had delved deeper into what it means to be a Jew, both culturally and religiously, and the manner and extent to which some people profiled in his book actually considered themselves Jewish.
Still, this is an impressive tome.
An intriguing look at the modern history of an outstanding people. --Kirkus Discoveries

This is an exciting new encyclopedic book about the contributions of the Jewish people have made and continue to make to the development of the world.
The uniqueness of The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement: The Compendium of a Culture, a People, and Their Stunning Performanceby Steven L. Pease is its comprehensive approach to identifying how individual Jews have furthered a variety fields covering all aspects of life.
There is a Jewish belief that man was put on the earth to finish the creation of the world that God started and it is referred to as Tikun Ha-olam (making the world a better place).
The pages of this book provide examples of how the Jewish people have been striving to complete the creation of the world through their accomplishments and discoveries.
In reading The Golden Age one has a strong sense that many of the major advances in the world were due to the extraordinary efforts and talents of individual Jews who exceeded in their fields of endeavor. The spectrum of subject areas spans from science to education to economics to the performing arts to high-tech to social activists and union leaders to philanthropy, among many others. The book provides a picture of who the Jewish people are and how they have contributed in varied and unique ways to the development of the civilizations of the world. The examples and explanations Pease provides throughout the book focus on the past and present times.
The identification of Jews who excelled in their achievements is well documented, and one of the strongest aspects of the more than 600 pages is the charts and lists of people provided in the appendix s exhibits.
There are over 100 pages of exhibits that provide specific data on all the categories and provide information on all the recipients and winners of prizes and competitions. In addition to all of this information, the details are well documented in more than 50 pages of end notes.
In its entirety the book tells a fascinating story through the use of the statistical data. Page after page of the book offers the reader incredible insight into how a people that struggle for their very existence in dealing with political, as well as, violent anti-Semitism over millenniums are able to contribute to their specific countries, as well as, to the world.
Toward the end of the book Pease addresses two challenging questions. In the chapter entitled Why? he explores possible reasons for the accomplishments of this small group of people and he offers a number of explanations ranging from being God s chosen people to the status of being second-generation immigrants. Is there something in ascribing the talents to Jewish genes or is the general culture of this group of people that hails from an ancient wandering tribe thousands of years ago the reason they have excelled?
The best way to summarize this theme is found in the Book of Isaiah. . . Certainly the discoveries and contributions Pease documents demonstrate how the Jews have indeed brought light into the world.
However, having said all this and documented the outstanding achievements, accomplishments, developments and contributions Pease does not leave us without wondering about the future. He raises questions that demographers and sociologists have asked for more than a hundred years. Will the Jewish people continue to exist and to contribute to the development of the world as they have done for over thousands of years?
In conclusion I found the book to stimulating and thought provoking.. It is worth reading and should be shared with all those who want to know the answer to, Who are the Jews?
Stephen G. Donshik, D.S.W., is a lecturer at Hebrew University s International Leadership and Philanthropy --Jewish Philanthropy - July 23, 2011

This comprehensive examination (topping more than 600 pages) of Jewish accomplishment focuses on the period from Enlightenment on.
Remarkably, the author is not Jewish. But he admits to a life-long fascination with Jewish success in a variety of fields from academia to entertainment, where Jews are represented disproportionately to their numbers in the general population.
This essential reference for any Jewish library includes history, profiles, factual tables and thorough footnotes. Is the author (a Spokane native) displaying some bias by selecting Noam Chomsky as his representative social activist?
On the whole, though, the book is balanced and extremely informative. --JT News, Dana Brement, Nov 19, 2010

About the Author

A CEO specializing in turnarounds, a venture capitalist, and a community activist, Steve Pease has traveled much of the world in the course of heading up public and private companies as well as not-for-profit organizations.
Born and raised Presbyterian in Spokane, Washington, he is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Washington with a master s degree from Harvard Business School.
He currently serves as co-chairman of the U.S. Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law, and Chairman of The U.S. Russia Investment Fund. Both are nonprofit entities, organized by the United States government to work with Russians, encourage entrepreneurship, civil society, and the rule of law, while also improving the U.S. Russia relationship.
He is also active in the community affairs of the small wine-country town of Sonoma, California, where he lives with his wife, Joyce.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Deucalion; First edition (November 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982516800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982516805
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,647,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A CEO specializing in turnarounds, a venture capitalist, and a community activist, Steve Pease has traveled much of the world in heading up both public and private companies as well as not-for-profit organizations.

Born and raised Presbyterian in Spokane, Washington, he is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Washington with a master's degree from Harvard Business School. He currently serves as cochairman of the U.S. Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law, and Chairman of The U.S. Russia Investment Fund. Both are nonprofit entities, organized by the United States government to work with Russians, encourage entrepreneurship, civil society, and the rule of law, while also improving the U.S.-Russia relationship.

He is also active in the community affairs of the small wine-country town of Sonoma, California, where he lives with his wife, Joyce.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has for many years investigated the subject of Jewish contribution to the culture and civilization of mankind I am deeply impressed by this volume. It is rich in information about Jewish contributions in a wide variety of areas of human endeavor. It tells the stories of remarkable Jewish individuals. It even provides an analysis of the cultural factors which Steven Pease believes are largely responsible for the disproportionate contribution of Jews to mankind.
One of the remarkable features of the work is the statistical compilations, the information regarding the percentage of Jewish contribution in a whole variety of areas of human endeavor.
I think this book is also important for a secondary reason. According to the biographical information given on the flap of the book Steven Pease was born and raised as a Presbyterian. It is better, I believe, to see this kind of analysis coming when it is not just 'home- cooked noodles'. In fact Pease joins a number of distinguished non- Jewish scholars and thinkers: Paul Johnson, Thomas Cahill, Charles Murray- who have written about the Jewish contributions to civilization.
One more point. We have seen recently a tremendous outburst of anti- Semitic hatred directed at the Jewish state of Israel. In a time like this it is important that people have a sense of how the Jewish people and especially Israel are making a contribution to the well- being of humanity.
And here I will say a word about an aspect of this subject which does not appear in this book. It is the dark- side, the Envy and Hatred which Jewish achievement has brought about in others. It is impossible to really understand Anti- Semitism without understanding how much a part 'Envy' has played in this.
And one more point not really covered in the book.
Read more ›
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Janice Heiler on March 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is the most complete analysis of disproportionate Jewish achievement ever done and backs that analysis up with exhibits and notes that anyone can use to double check the work. Nothing like it exists and no one has been so thorough.

Then it tells stories of the people - many of the high achievers such as Julius Rosenwald, David Sarnoff, the Warner Brothers, and many others. Some of these stories have never been told before, or are little known. They are enlightening and very well told.

Finally, the book explains how Jewish culture, as it has evolved over the last 2000 years, and particularly over the last 200 years (The Golden Age), has been the major driver of Jewish secular achievement.

One message is clear. Jews need not be the only high achievers. Other cultures could do just as well, but understanding why it has occurred is one way to encourage others to do the same. Perhaps that is why David Brooks saw fit to mention the book favorably in his January 12, 2010 column.

Janice Heiler
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Reader 47 on August 10, 2013
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A book that highlights the achievements of a group that I believe author Max Dimont called the size of a statistical error in a Chinese census. It shows how culture or positive habits dealing with literacy, family, and education can overcome thousands of years of persecution and discrimination. It also argues that countries with democratic ideas and a mix of cultures, such as the U.S., lead to spectacular achievement by those willing to seize the opportunities available. The biographies of many of the individuals discussed here are superb. Pease shows that having these positive cultural attitudes can make any group successful and should be emulated, not envied.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Merle H. Schmidt on June 7, 2014
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I have passed this book to my relatives to read and it resonated in a way that we all recognized in our own family. I kind of smiled while reading this book because it seemed so familiar. It was a peak at cultural behaviors that are so ingrained. It was well written, and a good guide for any person who is seeking success for their offspring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By john stace on April 22, 2014
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This is a marvellous, well written and thoroughly researched book. It will be of great interest to any person who wants to learn about the outstanding achievements of Jewish people across the past two centuries.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Lewis on December 30, 2012
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I have been intriged by the Jewish people and their achievements for many years. This books beautifully details the contributions of this great people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Morris on October 18, 2013
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Interesting reading. Probably the writer is preaching to the choir. Those who read it are already convinced of the message, but it is fun anyway
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