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World of Our Fathers: The Journey of the East European Jews to America and the Life They Found and Made Paperback – Deluxe Edition, October 1, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0814736852 ISBN-10: 0814736858 Edition: 30 Anv

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press; 30 Anv edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814736858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814736852
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

World of Our Fathers is a book for Jew and non-Jew, for immigrants and native-born Americans. It is a book for all people.”
-Chicago Tribune Book World



“Irving Howe has written a great book . . . a marvelous narrative.”
-The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Irving Howe (1920-1993) played a pivotal role in American intellectual life for over five decades, from the 1940s to the 1990s. Best known for World of Our Fathers, Howe also won acclaim for his prodigious output of illuminating essays on American culture and as an indefatigable promoter of democratic socialism. He was the founding editor of Dissent, the journal he edited for nearly forty years.



Morris Dickstein is Distinguished Professor of English and Theatre and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of several books, including Leopards in the Temple: The Transformation of American Fiction, 1945-1970

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Konrei on August 5, 2010
This is one of the best written and best organized history books I've ever read. Irving Howe takes a monumental subject---the mass Jewish migration from Eastern Europe to America at the beginning of the Twentieth Century---and renders it not only comprehensible and readable but enjoyable too. There were a lot of places that WORLD OF MY FATHERS could have fallen down flat, and it didn't fall down at all, even a little. It could have been textbookish; it wasn't. It could have been maudlin; it wasn't. Given it's length and heft, it could have been repetitious and badly edited, but that did not happen. The only shortcoming of WORLD OF OUR FATHERS is Howe's vaguely embarrassed assertion that the book really addresses the "immigrant experience" in all large cities and that New York is just his paradigm. This just isn't accurate. Immigrant Jews in Baltimore and Philadelphia, and Milwaukee lacked the safety in numbers, the critical mass, and the wider variety of options that the New York immigrants did.

I enjoyed this book. As a student of history (and particularly family history), I find WORLD OF OUR FATHERS to be an invaluable resource and an engrossing read to this day. People knowing of my interest in the subject matter have gifted me this book. I have at least three copies. Irving Howe not only sets forth a chronology of the Jewish immigrant experience, but he unpacks it, showing how different fault lines arose in the community over time in response to different stressors, both internal and external. For the immigrant experience, while broadly similar, was also profoundly individual. Some Jews were lost, not only to Judaism, but to normative existence itself. Some mocked the old ways, some locked onto them, and the great mass adapted them to the American milieu.
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Originally published in 1976, this new edition of World Of Our Fathers: The Journey Of The East European Jews To The Life They Found And Made by the late Irving Howe (1920-1993) is the inspirational history of the Eastern European Jewish migration from when and why it began in the 1880's to the situational struggle so many new immigrants found when they arrive on the streets of New York. A vividly written and often disturbing story of the discriminatory barriers and even hostile treatment European jews experienced as newly arriving immigrants into the ever-expanding cauldron of American multiethnic culture, World Of Our Fathers is an very highly recommended addition to community and academic library's Judaic Studies and American History collections.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence J. Epstein VINE VOICE on September 11, 2008
Irving Howe was there first. If you want a political or union history of Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side, this is the place to start. The entire book is characterized by graceful prose, immense research, and a deep love for the subject. No one who wants to start learning about Jewish immigrants can do without this book.

--Lawrence J. Epstein, author of At the Edge of a Dream: The Story of Jewish Immigrants on New York's Lower East Side, 1880-1920 (Arthur Kurzweil Books)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Newman on October 13, 2009
This is a fascinating account of the two million east European Jews who migrated to New York's lower east side beginning in the 1880's. The book describes the immigrants' attempts to maintain their Yiddish culture while at the same time, due to both external pressures and their own desires, fit into American society. Among the most interesting topics covered are poverty, education, socialism and the labor movement, Yiddish literature and the Yiddish theater. There are nearly thirty entertaining and enlightening photographs and, a highlight, loads of drawings by Jacob Epstein. Irving Howe, the author, was a top literary critic and intellectual who was part of this diaspora. Absorbing and fact-filled, the book helped me to get in touch with my own Jewish roots but would be a terrific and informative read for non-Jews, as well.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rolltide on October 10, 2008
A solid work of history focusing on political and sociological issues.

Howe starts in Eastern Europe and follows the immigrant path of a people and their difficulties in a new world. This is a very American history. Much of the book deals with difficulties living in urban slums and the gradual attempts at improving conditions from political activism, union involvement and economic development.

There are a few things missing here. Howe doesn't touch enough on the outgrowth of crime in the Jewish ghetto. Murder inc. the Purple Gang in Detroit et al provided an economic an outlet for poor urban Jews especially during prohibition..

Jews in sports was not touched on enough the fact that Jewish Americans were commonly succesful at one time and provided role models for the younger generations.

I also think that Howe could have spent more time on culinary and dietary differences between poor rural Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia vs the urban Jew living in lower Manhatten tenements on bowery. Howe does a good job displaying some of the culture shock from one type of life to another such as the health problems and sanitation but could have spent more time on those other things.

Still, a great book! And this Swedish American also highly recommends the Epstein book.
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