The Stern Gang: Ideology, Politics and Terror, 1940-1949

Overview

This study of "The Stern Gang" attempts to demythologize the image of this extremist, Zionist underground group. The book analyzes the party's split from the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization) and its attempts to synthesize the politics and ideals of the right and left.

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The Stern Gang: Ideology, Politics and Terror, 1940-1949

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Overview

This study of "The Stern Gang" attempts to demythologize the image of this extremist, Zionist underground group. The book analyzes the party's split from the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization) and its attempts to synthesize the politics and ideals of the right and left.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
An unheroic, undemonic history the extremist underground Zionist movement founded by Abraham Stern, which has previously only been portrayed by its adherents and adversaries. Traces how the movement originated in the radical right of European politics, spurned British help to seek alliance with the Axis powers, shifted to leftist ideas and sought alignment with the Soviet Union, and splintered once it became legal within the State of Israel. Paper edition (4106-5) $25.00. Distributed by ISBS. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780714645582
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 11/28/1995
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Heller
Joseph Heller
Joseph Heller’s debut novel Catch-22 will always be remembered as a brilliantly scathing indictment of war and one of the great absurdist comedies of 20th century American literature. However, it also created a painful catch-22 for its author at the expense of his subsequent works, which he would eventually explore in his final novel Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man.

Biography

Sometimes life traps you in an unfortunate situation that is impossible to escape from because of a set of inherently absurd rules. Take Joseph Heller, for example. The very first novel he published was among the most biting, powerful, hilarious examples of contemporary literature, a genuine classic of 1960s anti-war literature. Yet, Heller was forever trapped by that novel, unable to achieve similar success with his subsequent works no matter how fine they may have been. Both that painful predicament and that auspicious debut novel are known as Catch-22, and one hopes that an absurdist such as Joseph Heller had to at least appreciate that irony a little.

Catch-22 (1961) was somewhat based on Heller's own experiences as a B-25 bombadier in the Twelfth Air Force during World War II. It is the story of John Yossarian, a malingering bombardier stationed in Italy during the war. He lives in constant terror of being killed, so he flies each of his missions with the sole goal of returning alive. Unfortunately, Colonel Cathcart keeps increasing the number of missions he must undertake in order to complete his service. Yossarian's only way out is to prove that he is insane. Of course, the only way he can do that is to willingly take the most dangerous missions the air force has to offer. Yossarian's ridiculous, unwinnable situation is the Catch-22 from which the novel gets its name.

Heller uses Yossarian's situation as a means to satirize and criticize the military and dehumanizing bureaucracies in general. The novel follows a disorienting logic of its own, owing more to Lewis Carroll's Wonderland than any war-themed novel before it. Consequently, Heller's unique approach to his subject had a deep influence on writers such as Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse Five) and Tom Robbins (Villa Incognito). In 1970, Catch-22 was adapted into a star-studded feature film by director Mike Nichols (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ; The Graduate). Although many viewed the film as a disappointment, it had its fair share of highly inspired sequences, and in all fairness, the whimsical structure of the novel does not easily lend itself to the cinematic medium.

With a genuine classic on his hands, Heller then took his time producing his second novel. Something Happened did not appear until 1974, but it continued many of the themes present in Catch-22. This time around he directed his poison pen at the dehumanizing effects of the big-business world. Heller's tangy blend of pessimism and humanism would be the driving force behind the majority of his work that followed, including Good as Gold, Closing Time (a sequel to Catch-22), and the play We Bombed New Haven. However, none of his subsequent efforts came close to matching the success or influence of Catch-22, a fact that irked Heller until his death. His final novel, the posthumously published Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man, explored this very theme as writer Eugene Pota struggles to decide upon a subject for his final novel.

Despite his own misgivings about his career, Joseph Heller will forever be remembered as a giant in American literature, even if it is only due to his first novel... and that's the kind of Catch-22 in which most writers would kill to be trapped.

Good To Know

Heller often supplemented his income by taking screenwriting jobs. He worked on screenplays for the films Sex and the Single Girl and Casino Royale, and even worked on the television show McHale's Navy under the pseudonym "Max Orange."

Heller's great abhorrence of war transcended his novels and plays. During the ‘60s, he was very involved in the movement against the war in Vietnam.

Although Catch-22 is regarded as an American classic, it did not truly nab public attention until receiving glowing notices in Great Britain a year after its U.S. debut.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Max Orange
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 1, 1923
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      December 12, 1999
    2. Place of Death:
      East Hampton, New York

Table of Contents

Michael J Cohen - Bar-ilan University - publication unknown

"Joseph Heller has written an original if esoteric study of the complex - at times bzarre - ideologies flirted with by Ster/Lehi. His diligent, meticulous research in to the group"s multifarious publications affords the general reader an unprecedented glimpse into the Lehi"s private world, generally quite divorced from the real one around it ... Yet, even if history does not repeat itself, this volume contains many lessons that need to be learned by some."

Middle East Journal, Vol 51, No 1, 1997

"One must admire Heller"s ability to gain access to so much documentary archival material, to extract useful reminiscences from interviews with cooperative former activists, and to assemble his evidence with a critical eye. The result is an erudite text."

Middle East Quarterly, June 96

"An excellent, well-researched, and probably unsurpassed study."

Digest of Middle East Studies, Fall 96

"A superb treatment of the subject matter ... Heller"s research efforts are impeccable."

Jerusalem Post, 31/5/1996

"The overall sweep of its masterful analysis and exposition could well make it the definitive presentation of this fiercely intriguing chapter of Israel"s pre-natal period."

Times Literary Supplement, 7/6/96

"The distinguishing merit of Heller"s book, which produced scandalized responses when it was first published in Hebrew, is his delineation of the theoretical basis of the Sternist movement ... Heller"s is the first study to place Stern and his little movement within a comprehensible ideological and diplomatic context."

Middle East International, 26/4/96

"Heller"s work is thorough and well documented."

Contemporary Review, 1/7/96

"This is an important book ... Thanks to Heller, many readers will benefit from a better understanding of the dilemma faced by the Zionist movement at the end of the 1930s."

Jewish Chronicle, 15/3/96

"This definitive, fascinating work."

Choice, Nov 96

"Heller has written a useful and engaging study ... Carefully documented and well argued, this work fills an important niche in Zionist history.

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