Standalone Novels In Publication Order
- The Big Oyster (2005)
- Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (2005)
- Battle Fatigue (2011)
Collections In Publication Order
- The White Man in the Tree and Other Stories (2000)
- Edible Stories (2010)
- City Beasts (2015)
Picture Books In Publication Order
- The Cod’s Tale (1997)
- The Girl Who Swam to Euskadi (2005)
- The Story of Salt (2006)
- World Without Fish (2011)
Non-Fiction Books In Publication Order
- A Continent of Islands (1992)
- A Chosen Few (1994)
- Cod (1997)
- The Last Fish Tale (1998)
- The Basque History of the World (1999)
- Choice Cuts (2002)
- Salt (2002)
- 1968 (2003)
- Nonviolence (2006)
- The Eastern Stars (2010)
- What? Are These the 20 Most Important Questions in Human History or Is This a Game of 20 Questions? (2011)
- Birdseye (2012)
- Ready for a Brand New Beat (2013)
- International Night (2014)
- Frozen in Time (2014)
- Paper (2016)
- Havana (2017)
- Milk! (2018)
- Bugs In Danger (2019)
- Salmon (2020)
- The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing (2021)
The Food of a Younger Land Books In Publication Order
- The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food (2009)
- The Food of a Younger Land: The South Eats (2009)
- The Food of a Younger Land: The Far West Eats (2009)
- The Food of a Younger Land: The Middle West Eats (2009)
- The Food of a Younger Land: The Southwest Eats (2009)
- The Food of a Younger Land: The Northeast Eats (2009)
Jewish Lives Books In Publication Order
- Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt (By:) (2010)
- Hank Greenberg (2011)
- Peggy Guggenheim (By:) (2015)
Standalone Novels Book Covers
Collections Book Covers
Picture Book Covers
Non-Fiction Book Covers
The Food of a Younger Land Book Covers
Jewish Lives Book Covers
Mark Kurlansky Books Overview
Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue
In his eagerly awaited debut novel, critically acclaimed author Mark Kurlansky entertains readers with a brilliant story bursting with the vivid events and culinary delights even recipes that made bestsellers out of his nonfiction works Cod, Salt, and 1968. Nathan woke up on a Friday morning with the unshakable sense that during this day he would commit a catastrophic error in judgment. Something had been written by the gods, and Nathan Seltzer knew this was one Friday that he would regret…
. It’s the boom years of the 1980s, and life is closing in on Nathan Seltzer, who rarely travels beyond his suddenly gentrifying Lower East Side neighborhood. Between paralyzing bouts of claustrophobia, Nathan wonders whether he should cheat on his wife with Karoline, a German pastry maker whose parents may or may not have been Na*zis. His father, Harry, is plotting with the 1960s boogaloo star Chow Mein Vega for the comeback of this dance craze. Meanwhile, a homicidal drug addict is terrorizing the neighborhood. With its cast of unforgettable characters, Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue is a comedy of cultures, of the old and the new, of Latinos, Jews, Sicilians, and Germans. It s about struggling to hold on to life in a rapidly changing world, about food and sex, and about how our lives are shaped by love and guilt.
The White Man in the Tree and Other Stories
The award winning author of the bestsellers Cod and The Basque History of the World makes his eagerly anticipated fiction debut with this funny and moving romp through the world’s melting pot. The White Man in the Tree and Other Stories The White Man in the Tree is a comedy of cultural misunderstandings set in the Caribbean, New York, and Paris, a novella and eight stories about people who, because of their differences between men and women, blacks and whites, Caribbeans and visitors, Jews and Christians, rich and poor misjudge each other. As celebrated a nonfiction writer as he is, Mark Kurlansky was born to write fiction as well: he has an ability to unmask our foibles and write about love with wit and outright humor. Whether it is a sophisticated European filmmaker, an ambitious young black Haitian woman, a promising politician obsessed with women’s feet, or a fish out of water rabbi in search of a kosher chicken in Cura ao, each of Kurlansky’s characters engages us with impulses and interactions that are by turns comic, insightful, and poignant. The White Man in the Tree is an affectionate portrait of a unique society, where Europe, America, Africa, and Asia meet Latin America. Filled with surprises and delight as Kurlansky approaches each scene from a new and unexpected angle, The White Man in the Tree is a tender, wholly original, and thoroughly entertaining fiction debut.
All new stories about the food we share, love, and fight over from the national bestselling author of Cod and Salt. In these linked stories, Mark Kurlansky reveals the bond that can hold people together, tear them apart, or make them become vegan: food. Through muffins or hot dogs, an indigenous Alaskan fish soup, a bean curd Thanksgiving turkey or potentially toxic cr me brulee, a rotating cast of characters learns how to honor the past, how to realize you’re not in love with someone any more, and how to forgive. These women and men meet and eat and love, leave and drink and in the end, come together in Seattle as they are as inextricably linked with each other as they are with the food they eat and the wine they drink. Kurlansky brings a keen eye and unerring sense of humanity to these stories. And throughout, his love and knowledge of food shows just how important a role what we eat plays in our lives.
The Cod’s Tale
‘Excellent ink drawings, brightened with colorful washes, illustrate incidents from the text with clarity, a flair for the dramatic, and a sense of humor.’ Booklist, starred review ‘Kurlansky is a masterful storyteller…
. Schindler’s pictures, from serious to silly, add to the pleasure…
. Readers of this title will never again look at fish and chips in quite the same way.’ Kirkus Reviews ‘Breezy, kid friendly prose…
. Fascinating and informative…
bound to hook young readers.’ The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
The Girl Who Swam to Euskadi
In The Girl Who Swam to Euskadi, Mark Kurlansky exhibits his great affection for two rocky coastlines facing each other, Massachusetts on one side of the Atlantic and Euskadi Basqueland on the other. In his book The Basque History of the World, Kurlansky wrote, ‘The Basques seem to be a mythical people, almost an imagined people.’ In this children’s tale, a small girl who, while practicing her swimming in Gloucester, Massachusetts, accidentally swims to Euskadi and finds a strange land of strange customs and remarkable beauty. Returning home, no one will believe her that such a place exists. The Girl Who Swam to Euskadi is a bilingual book in English and Euskera, the ancient Basque language, which is the oldest living European language. All proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the New York Basque Cultural Center.
The Story of Salt
From the team that created the ALA Notable Book The Cod’s Tale comes the fascinating history of salt, which has been the object of wars and revolutions and is vital for life. Based on Mark Kurlansky s critically acclaimed bestseller Salt: A World History, this handsome picture book explores every aspect of salt: The many ways it s gathered from the earth and sea; how ancient emperors in China, Egypt, and Rome used it to keep their subjects happy; Why salt was key to the Age of Exploration; what salt meant to the American Revolution; And even how the search for salt eventually led to oil. Along the way, you ll meet a Celtic miner frozen in salt, learn how to make ketchup, and even experience salt s finest hour: Gandhi s famous Salt March.
World Without Fish
Mark Kurlansky, beloved author of the award-winning bestseller Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, offers a riveting new book for kids about what’s happening to fish, the oceans, and our environment, and what, armed with knowledge, kids can do about it.
Written by a master storyteller, World Without Fish connects all the dots-biology, economics, evolution, politics, climate, history, culture, food, and nutrition-in a way that kids can really understand. It describes how the fish we most commonly eat, including tuna, salmon, cod, and swordfish, could disappear within 50 years, and the domino effect it would have-oceans teeming with jellyfish and turning pinkish orange from algal blooms; seabirds disappearing, then reptiles, then mammals. It describes the back-and-forth dynamic of fishermen and scientists. It covers the effects of industrialized fishing, and how bottom-dragging nets are turning the ocean floor into a desert.
The answer? Support sustainable fishing. World Without Fish tells kids exactly what they can do: Find out where those fish sticks come from. Tell your parents what’s good to buy, and what’s not. Ask the waiter if the fish on the menu is line-caught And follow simple rules: Use less plastic, and never eat endangered fish like bluefin tuna.
Interwoven with the book is a 12-page full-color graphic novel. Each beautifully illustrated chapter opener links to form a larger fictional story that complements the text. Hand in hand, they create a Silent Spring for a new generation.
A Continent of Islands
In this richly detailed portrait of the individual countries and peoples of the Caribbean, Mark Kurlansky brings to life a society and culture often kept hidden from foreigners the arts, history, politics, and economics of the region, as well as the vivid day to day lives of its citizens. From the Newyoriccans of Levittown, Puerto Rico; to the state salaried popular musicians of Cuba; to the practitioners of good political hurricanemanship who know how to stretch statistics to bring in relief funds, A Continent of Islands paints portraits that will prove equally fascinating to tourists who know the Caribbean only as a string of beach resorts, and to readers curious about U.S. efforts to influence its neighbors.
A Chosen Few
A POWERFUL, DEEPLY MOVING NARRATIVE OF HOPE REBORN IN THE SHADOW OF DESPAIRFifty years after it was bombed to rubble, Berlin is once again a city in which Jews gather for the Passover seder. Paris and Antwerp have recently emerged as important new centers of Jewish culture. Small but proud Jewish communities are revitalizing the ancient centers of Budapest, Prague, and Amsterdam. These brave, determined Jewish men and women have chosen to settle or remain in Europe after the devastation of the Holocaust, but they have paid a price. Among the unexpected dangers, they have had to cope with an alarming resurgence of Na*zism in Europe, the spread of Arab terrorism, and the impact of the Jewish state on European life. Delving into the intimate stories of European Jews from all walks of life, Kurlansky weaves together a vivid tapestry of individuals sustaining their traditions, and flourishing, in the shadow of history. An inspiring story of a tenacious people who have rebuilt their lives in the face of incomprehensible horror, A Chosen Few is a testament to cultural survival and a celebration of the deep bonds that endure between Jews and European civilization. Consistently absorbing…
A Chosen Few investigates the relatively uncharted territory of an encouraging phenomenon. Los Angeles Times I can think of no book that portrays with such intelligence, historical understanding, and journalistic flair what life has been like for Jews determined to build lives in Europe. SUSAN MIRON Forward
A delightful romp through history with all its economic forces laid bare, Cod is the biography of a single species of fish, but it may as well be a world history with this humble fish as its recurring main character. Cod, it turns out, is the reason Europeans set sail across the Atlantic, and it is the only reason they could. What did the Vikings eat in icy Greenland and on the five expeditions to America recorded in the Icelandic sagas? Cod frozen and dried in the frosty air, then broken into pieces and eaten like hardtack. What was the staple of the medieval diet? Cod again, sold salted by the Basques, an enigmatic people with a mysterious, unlimited supply of cod. As we make our way through the centuries of cod history, we also find a delicious legacy of recipes, and the tragic story of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once their numbers were te fate of the universe. Here for scientist and layperson alike, for philosopher, science fiction reader, biologist, and computer expert is a startlingly complete and rational synthesis of disciplines, and a new, optimistic message about existence.
The Last Fish Tale
The bestselling author of Cod, Salt, and The Big Oyster has enthralled readers with his incisive blend of culinary, cultural, and social history. Now, in his most colorful, personal, and important book to date, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a disappearing way of life: fishing how it has thrived in and defined one particular town for centuries, and what its imperiled future means for the rest of the world.
The culture of fishing is vanishing, and consequently, coastal societies are changing in unprecedented ways. The once thriving fishing communities of Rockport, Nantucket, Newport, Mystic, and many other coastal towns from Newfoundland to Florida and along the West Coast have been forced to abandon their roots and become tourist destinations instead. Gloucester, Massachusetts, however, is a rare survivor. The livelihood of America’s oldest fishing port has always been rooted in the life and culture of commercial fishing.
The Gloucester story began in 1004 with the arrival of the Vikings. Six hundred years later, Captain John Smith championed the bountiful waters off the coast of Gloucester, convincing new settlers to come to the area and start a new way of life. Gloucester became the most productive fishery in New England, its people prospering from the seemingly endless supply of cod and halibut. With the introduction of a faster fishing boat the schooner the industry flourished. In the twentieth century, the arrival of Portuguese, Jews, and Sicilians turned the bustling center into a melting pot. Artists and writers such as Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and T. S. Eliot came to the fishing town and found inspiration.
But the vital life of Gloucester was being threatened. Ominous signs were seen with the development of engine powered net dragging vessels in the first decade of the twentieth century. As early as 1911, Gloucester fishermen warned of the dire consequences of this new technology. Since then, these vessels have become even larger and more efficient, and today the resulting overfishing, along with climate change and pollution, portends the extinction of the very species that fishermen depend on to survive, and of a way of life special not only to Gloucester but to coastal cities all over the world. And yet, according to Kurlansky, it doesn t have to be this way. Scientists, government regulators, and fishermen are trying to work out complex formulas to keep fishing alive.
Engagingly written and filled with rich history, delicious anecdotes, colorful characters, and local recipes, The Last Fish Tale is Kurlansky s most urgent story, a heartfelt tribute to what he calls socio diversity and a lament that each culture, each way of life that vanishes, diminishes the richness of civilization.
The Basque History of the World
Straddling a small corner of Spain and France in a land that is marked on no maps except their own, the Basques are a puzzling contradiction they are Europe’s oldest nation without ever having been a country. No one has ever been able to determine their origins, and even the Basques’ language, Euskera the most ancient in Europe is related to none other on earth. For centuries, their influence has been felt in nearly every realm, from religion to sports to commerce. Even today, the Basques are enjoying what may be the most important cultural renaissance in their long existence. Mark Kurlansky’s passion for the Basque people and his exuberant eye for detail shine throughout this fascinating book. Like Cod, The Basque History of the World blends human stories with economic, political, literary, and culinary history into a rich and heroic tale. Among the Basques’ greatest accomplishments: Exploration the first man to circumnavigate the globe, Juan Sebasti n de Elcano, was a Basque and the Basques were the second Europeans, after the Vikings, in North America Gastronomy and agriculture they were the first Europeans to eat corn and chili peppers and cultivate tobacco, and were among the first to use chocolate Religion Ignatius Loyola, a Basque, founded the Jesuit religious order Business and politics they introduced capitalism and modern commercial banking to southern Europe Recreation they invented beach resorts, jai alai, and racing regattas, and were the first Europeans to play sports with balls
From Mark Kurlansky, bestselling and award winning author of ‘Cod’, comes a lively, insightful anthology of food writing from ancient to contemporary writers. ‘Choice Cuts‘ opens with an introduction about the history of food writing by Kurlansky and the book is illustrated throughout with his own pen and ink drawings. The anthology collects work from all over the world, and from all ages. It includes Cato, whose second century BC practical guide to rural life, ‘De Agricultura’, the oldest surviving complete book of Latin prose, is rich in food commentary that illuminates his time. This is also true of Pliny the Elder three centuries later, and Apicius, a chef who was one of the first great food writers. The collection pays tribute to writers for their social commentary, such as Emile Zola’s observations about the fat and thin people at Les Halles market in his novel, ‘The Belly of Paris’, and Lu Wenfu’s discussion of an appropriate revolutionary restaurant in Maoist China from his novella, ‘The Gourmet.’ ‘Choice Cuts‘ also includes some of the many writings on food and sex, food and national identity and those food writers who were spectacularly ill informed. Alexander Dumas, arguably the least accurate food writer in all history, wrote an amazing piece on how crabs are ‘eaten by Negroes’, and Waverly Root denounced guinea fowl, because they hide when you are ready to kill them.
Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. Today we take salt for granted, a common, inexpensive substance that seasons food or clears ice from roads, a word used casually in expressions ‘salt of the earth,’ take it with a grain of salt’ without appreciating their deeper meaning. However, as Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in his world encompassing new book, salt the only rock we eat has shaped civilization from the very beginning. Its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind. Until about 100 years ago, when modern chemistry and geology revealed how prevalent it is, salt was one of the most sought after commodities, and no wonder, for without it humans and animals could not live. Salt has often been considered so valuable that it served as currency, and it is still exchanged as such in places today. Demand for salt established the earliest trade routes, across unknown oceans and the remotest of deserts: the city of Jericho was founded almost 10,000 years ago as a salt trading center. Because of its worth, salt has provoked and financed some wars, and been a strategic element in others, such as the American Revolution and the Civil War. Salt taxes secured empires across Europe and Asia and have also inspired revolution Gandhi’s salt march in 1930 began the overthrow of British rule in India; indeed, salt has been central to the age old debate about the rights of government to tax and control economies. The story of salt encompas*ses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores. Few endeavors have inspired more ingenuity than salt making, from the natural gas furnaces of ancient China to the drilling techniques that led to the age of petroleum, and salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, including the Erie Canal, and even cities Syracuse, New York. Salt’s ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, salt has shaped the history of foods like cheese, sauerkraut, olives, and more, and Kurlansky, an award winning food writer, conveys how they have in turn molded civilization and eating habits the world over. Salt is veined with colorful characters, from Li Bing, the Chinese bureaucrat who built the world’s first dam in 250 BC, to Pattillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas who, ignoring the advice of geologists, drilled an east Texas salt dome in 1901 and discovered an oil reserve so large it gave birth to the age of petroleum. From the sinking salt towns of Cheshire in England to the celebrated salt mine on Avery Island in Louisiana; from the remotest islands in the Caribbean where roads are made of salt to rural Sichaun province, where the last home made soya sauce is made, Mark Kurlansky has produced a kaleidoscope of history, a multi layered masterpiece that blends economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records into a rich and memorable tale.
In this monumental new book, award winning author Mark Kurlansky has written his most ambitious work to date: a singular and ultimately definitive look at a pivotal moment in history. With 1968, Mark Kurlansky brings to teeming life the cultural and political history of that world changing year of social upheaval. People think of it as the year of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Yet it was also the year of the Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy assassinations; the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; Prague Spring; the antiwar movement and the Tet Offensive; Black Power; the generation gap, avant garde theater, the birth of the women’s movement, and the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union. From New York, Miami, Berkeley, and Chicago to Paris, Prague, Rome, Berlin, Warsaw, Tokyo, and Mexico City, spontaneous uprisings occurred simultaneously around the globe. Everything was disrupted. In the Middle East, Yasir Arafat s guerilla organization rose to prominence…
both the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Biennale were forced to shut down by protesters…
the Kentucky Derby winner was stripped of the crown for drug use…
the Olympics were a disaster, with the Mexican government having massacred hundreds of students protesting police brutality there…
and the Miss America pageant was stormed by feminists carrying banners that introduced to the television watching public the phrase women s liberation. Kurlansky shows how the coming of live television made 1968 the first global year. It was the year that an amazed world watched the first live telecast from outer space, and that TV news expanded to half an hour. For the first time, Americans watched that day s battle the Vietnam War s Tet Offensive on the evening news. Television also shocked the world with seventeen minutes of police clubbing demonstrators at the Chicago convention, live film of unarmed students facing Soviet tanks in Czechoslovakia, and a war of starvation in Biafra. The impact was huge, not only on the antiwar movement, but also on the medium itself. The fact that one now needed television to make things happen was a cultural revelation with enormous consequences. In many ways, this momentous year led us to where we are today. Whether through youth and music, politics and war, economics and the media, Mark Kurlansky shows how, in 1968, twelve volatile months transformed who we are as a people. But above all, he gives a new understanding to the underlying causes of the unique historical phenomenon that was the year 1968. Thoroughly researched and engagingly written full of telling anecdotes, penetrating analysis, and the author s trademark incisive wit 1968 is the most important book yet of Kurlansky s noteworthy career.
The conventional history of nations, even continents, is a history of warfare. According to this view, all the important ideas and significant changes of humankind occurred as part of an effort to win one violent, bloody conflict or another. This approach to history is only one of many examples of how societies promote warfare and glorify violence. But there have always been a few who have refused to fight. Governments have long regarded this minority as a danger to society and have imprisoned and abused them and encouraged their persecution. This was true of those who refused Europe’s wars, who refused to fight for their king, who refused to fight for Napoleon as well as against him. It was true of Virginia Woolf’s sister Vanessa and her husband Clive Bell outcasts in rural Sussex because they opposed World War I at a time when the British socialist movement described a bayonet as a weapon with a worker on each end. It was true of the first American draft dodger, a Menonite who believed in American independence but believed it was wrong to use violence and rejected the call of his local militia. It was true of the many abolitionists who had dedicated their lives to stopping slavery but refused to fight in the Civil War. Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and, most impressively, the Menonites and the Quakers all have passages in their major teachings rejecting warfare as immoral. In this brilliant exploration of pacifism, these points of view are discussed alongside such diverse non violence theorists as Tolstoy, Shelley, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Aldous Huxley, Erasmus, Confucius and Lao Tse to show how many modern ideas such as a united Europe, the United Nations, and the abolition of slavery originated in such non violence movements.
The Eastern Stars
The intriguing, inspiring history of one small, impoverished area in the Dominican Republic that has produced a staggering number of Major League Baseball talent, from an award winning, bestselling author. In the town of San Pedro in the Dominican Republic, baseball is not just a way of life. It’s the way of life. By the year 2008, seventy nine boys and men from San Pedro have gone on to play in the Major Leagues that means one in six Dominican Republicans who have played in the Majors have come from one tiny, impoverished region. Manny Alexander, Sammy Sosa, Tony Fernandez, and legions of other San Pedro players who came up in the sugar mill teams flocked to the United States, looking for opportunity, wealth, and a better life. Because of the sugar industry, and the influxes of migrant workers from across the Caribbean to work in the cane fields and factories, San Pedro is one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the Dominican Republic. A multitude of languages are spoken there, and a variety of skin colors populate the community; but the one constant is sugar and baseball. The history of players from San Pedro is also a chronicle of racism in baseball, changing social mores in sports and in the Dominican Republic, and the personal stories of the many men who sought freedom from poverty through playing ball. The story of baseball in San Pedro is also that of the Caribbean in the twentieth and twenty first centuries and on a broader level opens a window into our country’s history. As with Kurlansky’s Cod and Salt, this small story, rich with anecdote and detail, becomes much larger than ever imagined. Kurlansky reveals two countries’ love affair with a sport and the remarkable journey of San Pedro and its baseball players. In his distinctive style, he follows common threads and discovers wider meanings about place, identity, and, above all, baseball.
The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food
A remarkable portrait of American food before World War II, presented by the New York Times bestselling author of Cod and Salt. Award winning New York Times bestselling author Mark Kurlansky takes us back to the food and eating habits of a younger America: Before the national highway system brought the country closer together; before chain restaurants imposed uniformity and low quality; and before the Frigidaire meant frozen food in mass quantities, the nation’s food was seasonal, regional, and traditional. It helped form the distinct character, attitudes, and customs of those who ate it. In the 1930s, with the country gripped by the Great Depression and millions of Americans struggling to get by, FDR created the Federal Writers’ Project under the New Deal as a make work program for artists and authors. A number of writers, including Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, and Nelson Algren, were dispatched all across America to chronicle the eating habits, traditions, and struggles of local people. The project, called ‘America Eats,’ was abandoned in the early 1940s because of the World War and never completed. The Food of a Younger Land unearths this forgotten literary and historical treasure and brings it to exuberant life. Mark Kurlansky’s brilliant book captures these remarkable stories, and combined with authentic recipes, anecdotes, photos, and his own musings and analysis, evokes a bygone era when Americans had never heard of fast food and the grocery superstore was a thing of the future. Kurlansky serves as a guide to this hearty and poignant look at the country’s roots. From New York automats to Georgia Coca Cola parties, from Arkansas possum eating clubs to Puget Sound salmon feasts, from Choctaw funerals to South Carolina barbecues, the WPA writers found Americans in their regional niches and eating an enormous diversity of meals. From Mississippi chittlins to Indiana persimmon puddings, Maine lobsters, and Montana beavertails, they recorded the curiosities, commonalities, and communities of American food.
Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt (By:)
Everything about Sarah Bernhardt is fascinating, from her obscure birth to her glorious career redefining the very nature of her art to her amazing and highly public romantic life to her indomitable spirit. Well into her seventies, after the amputation of her leg, she was performing under bombardment for soldiers during World War I, as well as crisscrossing America on her ninth American tour. Her family was also a source of curiosity: the mother she adored and who scorned her; her two half sisters, who died young after lives of dissipation; and most of all, her son, Maurice, whom she worshiped and raised as an aristocrat, in the style appropriate to his presumed father, the Belgian Prince de Ligne. Only once did they quarrel over the Dreyfus Affair. Maurice was a right wing snob; Sarah, always proud of her Jewish heritage, was a passionate Dreyfusard and Zolaist. Though the Bernhardt literature is vast, Gottlieb’s Sarah is the first English language biography to appear in decades. Brilliantly, it tracks the trajectory through which an illegitimate and scandalous daughter of a courtesan transformed herself into the most famous actress who ever lived, and into a national icon, a symbol of France.
One of the reasons baseball fans so love the sport is that it involves certain physical acts of beauty. And one of the most beautiful sights in the history of baseball was Hank Greenberg‘s swing. His calmly poised body seemed to have some special set of springs with a trigger release that snapped his arms and swept the bat through the air with the clean speed and strength of a propeller. But what is even more extraordinary than his grace and his power is that in Detroit of 1934, his swing or its absence became entwined with American Jewish history. Though Hank Greenberg was one of the first players to challenge Babe Ruth’s single season record of sixty home runs, it was the game Greenberg did not play for which he is best remembered. With his decision to sit out a 1934 game between his Tigers and the New York Yankees because it fell on Yom Kippur, Hank Greenberg became a hero to Jews throughout America. Yet, as Kurlansky writes, he was the quintessential secular Jew, and to celebrate him for his loyalty to religious observance is to ignore who this man was. In Hank Greenberg Mark Kurlansky explores the truth behind the slugger’s legend: his Bronx boyhood, his spectacular discipline as an aspiring ballplayer, the complexity of his decision not to play on Yom Kippur, and the cultural context of virulent anti Semitism in which his career played out. What Kurlansky discovers is a man of immense dignity and restraint with a passion for sport who became a great reader a man, too, who was an inspiration to the young Jackie Robinson, who said, ‘Class tells. It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg.’