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From the Publisher"[W]hile not claiming to provide any definitive or comprehensive answer to the inevitable question—Why have Jews had such a central impact on American popular culture?—does move, in many of the pieces included, toward a suggestion: Shut out of more traditional fields, Jews creatively embraced the emerging technologies of film, radio, an television, as well as many new commercial opportunities from the department store to the invention and distribution of novelty games and toys. What resulted was an American culture shaped in large degree by a resilient and talented minority population….[t]his collection is a sturdy beginning to the description and analysis of the unendingly interesting subject of Jews and American popular culture."
"Editor's Choice This isn't just a quick and dirty survey of American Jews doing mass culture. It's 861 pages, with scores of references to further reading, that explains what Jews were doing what they were doing, when they were doing it, and what impact that had on other Jews and non-Jews alike. If you want to sound smart about Jewish pop culture—and we know a thing about this—there really is no better place to start your library."
American Jewish Life
"Though this set has the heft of a reference series, it works best in a circulating collection. It is not an encyclopedia but rather an insightful and eclectic compilation of essays by noted scholars and writers….There are many unusual but telling meditations on popular culture in this expansive series (e.g., The Jew and the Nose: Plastic Surgery and Popular Culture written by Beth Aviva Preminger, a plastic surgeon). One of the strong points of the series is that each entry has a list for further reading….Libraries with strong American Jewish studies collections should definitely have this set. Academic institutions and large public libraries should consider."
"In this collection of 51 essays, academics and journalists relate the contributions of Jewish creators and performers to American popular culture, covering the ethnic origins of the American obsession with the movies, moguls and the studio system, the social film and the blacklist, musicals, censorship, animation, talk radio, television drama, comedy writing, Yiddish theater, vaudeville, Broadway, drama, klezmer music, Tin Pan Alley, folk music, jazz, rock, protest, high lit, the pulps, children's literature, advice columns, satire, comics, baseball, boxing, basketball, the Olympics, amusement parks, the Catskills, fashion, toys, food, department stores, gangsters, porn, beauty, plastic surgery, popular front culture and the Internet. Think how much richer life would be if fewer talented people had to overcome anti-Semitism."
Reference & Research Book News
"Jews have had a central impact on many aspects of American popular culture, and this handsome three-volume reference set presents a scholarly, yet accessible, survey of the history of Jewish involvement in pop culture. Editor Buhle does an admirable job of grouping the essays by areas of interest. The more familiar areas of study, such as Jews in movies and literature, get the most attention. Other topics receive comprehensive treatment, such as jews in television and theater, radio broadcasting, and music. Jews in sports should be a popular section. Most intriguing are areas of popular culture given little coverage in past publications: fashion, toys, department stores, amusement parks, pornography, the Internet, gangsters, and the Jewish nose….The never before published comic strip by Pekar is a nice bonus. Highly reccommended for academic libraries as well as large public libraries."
Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter
"Buhle has made an important contribution to the understanding of the impact of Jews on popular culture in the US. The encyclopedia is a compendium of 52 essays that cover a diverse range of subjects, from David Wagner's The Social Film and the Hollywood Blacklist to Albert Fried's The Story of America's Jewish Gangsters. Additional topics include Jews and Beauty, Food in Jewish American Culture, and Fashion, all by scholars or writers with expertise in their fields. Buhle's introduction examines contemporary Jewish history within the context of US popular culture, and notes that it has taken five generations of Jewish participation in popular culture to disprove the argument made by anti-semites such as Otto Weininger that Jews had a talent for the superficial arts as compensation for their inability to create real art. Also included in the introduction are illustrations by Harvey Pekar, the famed cartoonist. The three-volume work includes photos, suggested readings that accompany each essay, and notes on the contributors. Given the quality of the essays as a whole, the encyclopedia should become an indispensable resource work for scholars and students engaged in research on the Jewish experience in the US. Essential. All levels/libraries."
"Given the surprisingly ground-breaking nature of the collection, the quality of its contributors, and the breadth of the ground it has broken, this project is invaluable….[a] fascinating and broad collection of essays."
"[T]his engaging and learned series of essays traces the achievements of Jews in many American entertainment forms. The complex history offers numerous examples of innovators moving into the center of the American entertainment industry from its margins….Like their subjects, Buhle's essayists deserve a widespread audience for their lively studies of progressive and popular American culture."
Science & Society