- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Hill and Wang; First edition (May 3, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780809070169
- ISBN-13: 978-0809070169
- ASIN: 0809070162
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mordecai: An Early American Family First Edition
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“Emily Bingham's carefully researched, beautifully written and totally unforgettable saga throws light on never-before-revealed aspects of religion and life in the antebellum South. A remarkable tale of the making and the unmaking of an early American Jewish family.” ―Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University.
“With a historian's care and a novelist's sense of story, Emily Bingham has brought to life the progression through the early decades of the United States of an unfamiliar, and remarkable, kind of family: Southern Jews, who had to struggle to reconcile loyalty to their tradition with membership in a regional society where it had not yet taken root. It's a testament to Bingham's skill that she has made the Mordecais feel every bit as loving and complicated as families really are.” ―Nick Lemann, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy
“Emily Bingham's Mordecai: An Early American Family, is a remarkable story, in many ways almost a paradigm of the Jewish historical experience in the South, whether antebellum or later. Better than any comparable book I've read, it embodies both the dilemmas and opportunities involved in an intensely American drama.” ―Louis D. Rubin, Jr., author of My Father's People: A Family of Southern Jews
“This account of a Jewish family in the Old South makes an original and illuminating contribution to our understanding of the formation of American nationhood--and marks the debut of a remarkably talented young historian” ―Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
About the Author
Emily Bingham is an independent scholar living in Louisville, Kentucky. Mordecai is her first book.
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The story of the Mordecai family is sadly one of assimilation, and this book touches on that topic. This book only deals with a small segment of our family history, and there is much that followed before, and certainly much that followed after. There are many mysteries in the family that remain, at least to me, including how Moses Mordecai met Elizabeth Whitlock, and the origins of Moses Mordecai in Bonn Germany which have alluded me. The history of Jews in Bonn before and after his time was not a happy one, and even in 1994 a synagogue was fire bombed there. So, maybe the family history in Bonn, however short or long, is lost.
For me this book is personal so I have that personal interest that most others will not share. It is hard for me to be objective. But, it does seem to cover a rather narrow portion of my family history rather well. It is also an outstanding case study on the dynamics of assimilation.
Three generations of Mordecais come alive, shedding light upon the complex history of the Southern Jewish experience. Among many individuals who stand out, perhaps the most unforgettable are Alfred, accepted at West Point at a time (the mid 1800s) when few Jews even applied, and Rachel, whose story would itself be a fascinating biography. Their relationship to their Jewish heritage--and the uses they put it to--are important additions to the story of other ethnic groups and their struggle to assimilate while still maintaining their identity.
Emily Bingham's solid scholarship and broad knowledge of the era she writes about make MORDECAI a fascinating biography of a people and a time.