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A Summer World

A Summer World

by Stefan Kanfer

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A Summer World charts the incredible rise and precipitous fall of the Catskill resorts, from the pre-revolutionary period to the great days of the Borscht Belt.


A Summer World charts the incredible rise and precipitous fall of the Catskill resorts, from the pre-revolutionary period to the great days of the Borscht Belt.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With a dearth of analysis and a surfeit of nostalgic name-dropping, this Catskill Mountain history by the author of A Journal of the Plague Years has the effervescence of seltzer gone flat. Early Jewish peddlers and farmers tried to eke out livings in the mountains, but, by the 20th century, Jewish resort owners flourished--touting fresh air and serving co-religionists spurned by gentile establishments. Yiddish superstar Boris Thomashevsky initiated entertainment in the region when he brought a troupe of actors to vacation with him. Later, singers like Eddie Fisher and Jan Peerce were launched there. Satirized by Jewish and secular newspapers, as well as by their own self-abnegating comedians, the Jewish Catskills became a symbol of bourgeois bad taste vis-a-vis food, sex, fashion, spouse hunting and social climbing. Today, once posh resorts now in decline have become condominiums, or serve nonkosher food to woo gentiles. (Dec.)
Library Journal
In 1899 the first Jewish boarding house in the Catskill Mountains opened to replace a failed farm, starting the successive flood of rooming houses, summer cottages, and resorts like Grossinger's and the Concord. Kanfer accurately evokes images of abundant kosher food, constant entertainment epitomized by the Borscht Belt comedians, and husband-hunting romance among the pines. He uses a variety of primary and secondary sources to document the Jewish presence in the Catskills and particularly the rise and fall of a specific era of vacationing, capturing the sense of loss during the latest transition to condos. This is an excellent chronicle of one facet of the Catskill Mountain's history. Recommended for large public and academic libraries.-- Susan Hamburger, Virginia State Lib . & Archives, Richmond

Product Details

StoneThread Publishing
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18 Years

Meet the Author

Stefan Kanfer is the author of fifteen books, including the bestselling biographies of show business icons: Groucho; Ball of Fire (Lucille Ball); Somebody (Marlon Brando); and Tough Without a Gun (Humphrey Bogart.) He has also written many social histories, among them The Last Empire, about the De Beers diamond company, and Stardust Lost, an account of the rise and fall of the Yiddish Theater in New York. Kanfer also wrote two novels about World War II, and served as the only journalist on the President's Commission on the Holocaust. He was the first by-lined cinema critic for Time magazine, where he worked as writer and editor for more than two decades. He has been given many writing awards and was named a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library. He lives in New York.

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