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Comment: 2007. Hardcover. Fine. Dust Jacket is Fine.
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Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972 Hardcover – September 28, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is a prodigiously researched, sound, and important book. Spiritual Radical  is a substantial achievement, a work of love and devotion and real biographical acumen.”—Steven Zipperstein, Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History, Stanford University
(Steven Zipperstein)

“This second volume of Kaplan’s biography of Abraham Joshua Heschel is an important work by any standard. The care with which it is assembled and the research upon which it is based is truly inspiring. Spiritual Radical is clearly written, insightful, honest.”—Adam Seligman, author of Modest Claims, Dialogues and Essays on Tolerance and Tradition

(Adam Seligman)

"This religiously contentious world needs the noble witness of Abraham Joshua Heschel more than ever. Edward K. Kaplan's lucid and compelling account of Heschel's life in America is an urgently important book."—James Carroll, author of House of War

(James Carroll)

“Kaplan has written a biography that will be appreciated and enjoyed by all those who struggle to be at home in America, and for all those who struggle to be at home with God.”—Martin Kavka, Florida State University
(Martin Kavka)

"During a time when deep religious belief is so often associated with intolerance and intransigence, it is refreshing to be reminded that Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King, Jr., once joined in a prophetic, morally courageous pursuit of peace and social justice."—Clayborne Carson, Director, Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University
(Clayborne Carson)

"This is a meticulously researched, beautifully written biography that captures the life and thought of a great man."—Harold Kasimow, Shofar
(Harold Kasimow Shofar 2008-10-01)

"Kaplan presents [Heschel] through a prism that is at once objective and warm. This is a book to be appreciated by academics, rabbis and general readers alike."—Richard Libowitz, The Reconstructionist
(Richard Libowitz The Reconstructionist 2007-09-01)

"Kaplan deserves praise for writing a well-documented account of Heschel's life and activities between 1940 and his death in 1972."—Jason Kalman, American Jewish Archives Journal
(Jason Kalman American Jewish Archives Journal)

"Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America provides a fascinating and much-needed acount of this legendary figure's experiences in America."—Noam Pianko, American Jewish History
(Noam Pianko American Jewish History)

About the Author

Edward K. Kaplan is Kevy and Hortense Kaiserman Professor in the Humanities at Brandeis University where he teaches in French, comparative literature, and religious studies. He has been writing on Heschel for many years, and his publications include Holiness in Words: A.J. Heschel's Poetics of Piety.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300115407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300115406
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,519,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Rosner on April 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After completing "Spiritual Radical," I sat on my parent's couch in their NYC apartment, emotionally, if not physically, trembling. A myriad of thoughts and feelings streamed through me as if I were a video that one watches on the internet. On the ride back home to Brooklyn, I composed--in my mind--what easily could become a 20+ page essay, "Was Abraham Joshua Heschel A Prophet?" That's how moving and evocative I found Professor Kaplan's biography to be.

Besides giving me so, so much insight about Heschel, the man, I learned much about Heschel the theologist/philosopher, the historical period in which his work took place, the points of view of the various segments of both Judaism and Christianity--individual, organizational, and theological--and so much more it would take several pages to list them all.

Indeed, words like brilliant, superb, and/or profound to describe the quality of the Kaplan's writing would be understatements! If I may borrow a phrase from the title--even if English language purists would shake their heads--his work evoked in me "radical amazement." For sure, of all the biographies I have read over the years, his is the BEST I have ever come across--surpassing McCollough's "John Adams," and Cook's biography of Elanor Roosevelt, to name two that I esteem. Besides the clarity of the writing, what particularly impresses is how fair he was, given the necessity as a biographer of being truthful to his task, even if that required being critical--at times--of someone he obviously loved.

Finally, I can only imagine the profound and time-consuming labor he must have gone through to determine not only what to put on paper, but what to leave out! I believe his judgment concerning the latter places him, as much or more than anything else, in the top echelon of the vocation of biographers!

Abraham Joshua Heschel -- Spiritual Radical -- is a masterpiece!

Steve Rosner
Brooklyn, NY
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Having read the first volume of Heschel's life, "Prophetic Witness," I was eager to read about his later life in the United States. Kaplan does an excellent job portraying the life of radical thinker. I was as pleased with this volume as I was with the first.
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It was nearly two decades ago in a Yemenite restaurant in Jerusalem, while eating with several students that my hevruta partner mindlessly took a pita from the plate of the complete stranger sitting on the other side of him. After the embaressment was over, we learned that the stranger was a Brandeis professor doing research on Heschel. What followed was an illuminating conversation. I've only seen Dr. Kaplan twice since that 1991 encounter, but I've long savored the idea of a Heschel biography. The result is gratifying. This second volume made for compelling reading. While not as elegantly written as the first volume(maybe enumerating all the publications and conferences bogged the narrative down a bit), the account is wonderful, and fills in many gaps in Heschel's life. Many of my HUC professors, for example, had their own little 'takes' on Heschel's time in Cincinnati. Kaplan gives an integrating perspective on those fragments. So too the many gossipy stories about his status at JTS. In summarizing his work in the context of his life in post-war America, it is both uplifting and frank in its portrayal of a great and flawed man, not unlike the "warts and all" biblical descriptions of people. Not just of interest to rabbis, ministers, and theologians, this is an excellent biography of a just oh-my-gosh interesting person.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a great introduction to the man who worked for civil rights and left us great insights into spiritual matters. His name is often coupled with others dedicated to social justice.
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By Ken on December 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Heschel has reinvigorated my faith thought process. I love his philosophy but not necessarily his application of that philosophy. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The second volume is even better than the first...Kaplan does not idolize Heschel; he shares the frustrations and shortcomings, but also the richness of his writing, his work and his soul.
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