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.