Summer Reading

I am just getting into my summer reading list, and so far, I have read a couple of short books and am digging into a fascinating historical biography:

Night, by Elie Wiesel.  I understand that this powerful first work by Wiesel is receiving a resurgence in attention.  It is a must-read and will remind everyone why Israel exists, why the collective Jewish psyche is the way it is, and continue to raise the questions that haunt us about intolerance and man’s capacity for unspeakable evil.

Everyman, by Philip Roth. I am not a big Philip Roth fan.  This brief story about the end of a Jewish man’s life in New York/New Jersey and his regrets was short enough for me not to hate it.  It’s one of those books that you see other people reading and already forgot why you read it.

The Orientalist, by Tom Reiss. I am in the middle of this one, and it is great.  This book is a hard-to-imagine true story about the life of Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew born to an oil-wealthy family in Baku, Azerbaijan, at the beginning of the 20th century.  Nussimbaum not only became a best-selling author, he transformed himself into a Muslim prince in Nazi Germany, and died toward the end of World War II from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the foot.  The historical context during the collapse of Czarist Russia is superb–  I didn’t know that Stalin started out as a revolutionary in Baku– and the personal interviews with some of the last survivors of Baku’s oil-boom and Bolshevik revolutionary bust are fascinating.  Read this one!    

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