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June 23, 2011 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-06-23

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arts & entertainment

Summer Reading from page 31

Also for art lovers is Modigliani: A Life, in
which Merle Secrest provides an in-depth
portrait of one of the 20th century's master
painters and sculptors — writing of his
upbringing as a Sephardic Jew from an
impoverished but genteel Italian family, his
going to Paris to make his fortune, his artis-
tic influences and his long-kept illness from
tuberculosis, which he masked with alcohol.

whose transport plane was downed dur-
ing a sightseeing trip over "Shangri-La," a
beautiful and mysterious valley deep within
the island's uncharted jungle. Threaded
throughout this tale of adventure is a deep-
er story about the collision of two distinct
cultures — one, as Zuckoff puts it, "on the
brink of the Atomic Age and the other "in
the Stone Age."

A master at writing true tales as riveting as
fiction, Erik Larson tackles the Third Reich
in In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror
and an American Family in Hitler's
Berlin, the story of William E. Dodd, a
mild-mannered history professor who to
everyone's surprise becomes America's first
ambassador to Nazi Germany, and Dodd's
24-year-old daughter Martha, an outspo-
ken free spirit who is at first entranced by
the ebullience and optimism of the "New
Germany" (as well as with romance with
dangerous figures). Soon they begin to see
the menace that underlies Berlin's beauty
and vibrancy.

The Roaring Twenties come to life in
American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare:
The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
(Random House), Karen Abbott's story of
America's coming of age told through the
life of Gypsy Rose Lee, as well as the four
Jewish showbiz Minsky brothers from New
York, who would pave the way for Gypsy
Rose Lee's brand of burlesque.

Boston University professor of journalism
Mitchell Zuckoff's Lost in Shangri-La: A
True Story of Survival, Adventure and the
Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World
War II (Harper) tells the true story of the
battle for survival of three enlisted soldiers
(including a WAC) stationed in New Guinea

Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist
Debra Bluets The Poisoner's Handbook:
Murder and the Birth of Forensic
Medicine in Jazz Age New York (Penguin)
provides an account of famous New York
City crimes and of the forensic medicine
pioneered by NYC's first professional medi-
cal examiner, Charles Norris, and his chief
toxicologist, Alexander Gettler, the son of
working-class Jewish immigrants. Both
lobbied heavily against Prohibition, which
caused countless deaths from bad booze.

In The Science of Evil: On Empathy and
the Origins of Cruelty (Basic Books), British
autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen explores
borderline personality disorder, autism,
narcissism, psychosis and Asperger's,
syndromes that have one thing in common:
lack of empathy. In some cases, he concludes,
this absence can be dangerous, but in others
it can simply mean a different way of seeing
the world. Baron-Cohen's cousin is actor-
comedian Sacha Baron-Cohen.

In The Eichmann Trial (Schocken/
Nextbook), published on the 50th anni-
versary of the groundbreaking Nazi war-
criminal trial in Israel, Deborah E. Lipstadt
covers Eichmann's capture in Argentina
by Israeli agents, profiles the prosecutors
and judges, highlights the significance of
the testimony of survivors and looks at the
influence of Hannah Arendt and her views.

Sacred Trask The Lost and Found World
of the Cairo Geniza (Schocken/Nextbook),
by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole,
chronicles the discovery of a magnificent
medieval Egyptian geniza, or repository for
worn-out texts, a veritable treasure-house
of Jewish religion, literature and history
that was forgotten for centuries, and of the
extraordinary crew of scholars (including
Solomon Schechter) who saved the docu-
ments and fitted the scraps back together,

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providing a panoramic view of 900 years of
vibrant Mediterranean Judaism.

With access to more than 6,000 docu-
ments, letters and photos found in the
attic in the Basel home of Helene Elias, the
sister of Anne Frank's father, Otto Frank,
German author Mirjam Pressler has writ-
ten Treasures from the Attic (Doubleday),
shedding new light on Anne Frank, her
diary and family.

In The Chosen Peoples (Simon &
Schuster), American author Todd Gitlin
and Israeli writer Liel Leibovitz examine
the special friendship between the U.S.
and Israel — as well as the nations' past
achievements and shortcomings, current
challenges and future prospects — through
the prism of their distinctive status as
countries that each believe they were cho-
sen by God to carry out a redemptive mis-

In a new biography of King Solomon,
Solomon: The Lure of Wisdom (Yale
University Press), Steven Weitzman looks
anew at Solomon's life, offers answers to
many questions about the accomplished
and wise king and writes of his significance
to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Biographer Frank Brady, an accomplished
chess player in his own right who first

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