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Unfinished People: Eastern European Jews Encounter America Paperback – October 17, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (October 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393322408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393322408
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,240,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ruth Gay's writing traverses the paths of history from the microcosm of personal memoir to millennial histories of peoples and nations. In The Jews of Germany, she traced one and a half centuries of Jewish life in Europe. In Unfinished People, Gay describes the lives of Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe and the process through which they forged new cultural identities in America. The materials for Gay's examination of Jewish life range from historical essays to personal remembrances. Short vignettes describe the role of Yiddish theater, the changing fashions of dress and family life, and her studied opinions on Jewish-American history and identity. Her opinions are sharp and her exposition is lucid and informative. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this vivid and informed account, Gay (The Jews of Germany) explores the lives of Jews who fled Eastern Europe and settled in New York City between 1881 and 1911. She describes the poverty and persecution these Jews lived with in Europe and documents the ways in which the relative freedom of the New World impacted upon their language, culture and religious practices. Gay's major focus is on the reminiscences of her parents, both turn-of-the-century childhood immigrants, and her own memories of growing up in a Yiddish-speaking Bronx home. Using evocative descriptions of the furniture, cooking and dress of the period, Gay conveys how immigrants of her parents generation were forced to negotiate between the language and customs of their own parents and the English-speaking world they found at school and at work, and how newfound freedoms coexisted with the unforeseen difficulties of assimilation.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robin L. Poses on September 28, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I read this book to better inform myself on the every day lives of the Jewish immigrants. I am searching my husband's Jewish ancestors and was pleasantly educated during the course of the book on the lives of these immigrants in New York City; their every day comings and goings, customs, work places, religious practices and the heavy influence their "pre-immigration" lives had on their new situations.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you were too young and/or stupid to interview your grandparents from "the old country", here's your chance to learn about what it was like for them to emigrate to a strange new country while still a teenager. Thoroughly readable, informative, and enjoyable. Will enhance your respect and deepen your love. You will see pieces of your own family, your own history
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not long after beginning this book I exclaimed out loud "that's Aunt Ethel, that's Aunt Sophie". In her book Ruth Gay explains how an entire generation of immigrants who left Europe as children or teenagers had never actually "finished" growing up and how that affected them, their lives in the New World and their children. I wonder how much of this is true for today's immigrants as well. I truly enjoyed this book, more than most I have read of the genre, and strongly recommend it to anyone seeking to understand their immigrant past.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By kbyrd@tcnet.net on October 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I am not Jewish. I do not have any Jewish friends. I live in Kentucky and I doubt that there is any Jewish people within miles of me. I wanted to find out more about their culture. This book was excellent. It dealt with the issues that I wanted to know about the every day ones. What they wore, what they ate, their household customs. I enjoyed reading how they were scared to send their children to camp. I liked the part where the women were always cleaning and to have bed bugs was the ultimate shame.
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