Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Golden Age Of Jewish Achievement

I've recently had a chance to read Steven Pease's book, The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement, and I must say it's a very good read. Pease believes Jews are disproportionately high achievers because of an eclectic blend of cultural values, values that have been forged with the evolution of Judaism and 2,000 years of oppression. Victimization is a powerful source of motivation.

In his book, Pease recognizes Jewish innovation, creativity, and success. He has entire chapters devoted to science, education, the military, aviation, economics, politics, the law, literature, performing arts, comedy, Hollywood, radio, television, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and athletes. Pease also delves into some of the more ignominious Jews in history, so it's not all rainbows and sunshine.

The book itself is quite an achievement, as it was obviously an ambitious undertaking. At over 500 pages in length, Pease is extremely thorough. He gives props to just about everybody and offers a keen perspective on all things Jewish. Essentially, it's a comprehensive archive of our best and brightest. But it doesn't read like an archive; it's a great deal more engaging than that.

In his chapter on Jewish athletes, Pease pays homage to Sandy Koufax in a tribute worthy of the great hurler. My only gripe with that section of the book is Hank Greenberg's write-up, or rather lack of a write-up. Certainly, Greenberg is mentioned, but I felt he deserved the treatment Koufax got. Of course, Koufax has almost reached mythical status in contemporary times, so it's understandable.

Other than that slight omission, The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement really has no flaws. Pease did his homework and provides a pastiche of facts, trivia, and anecdotes. Some of the people highlighted in the book with Jewish ties will no doubt surprise you. Do yourselves a favor: buy this book. You can thank me later. Here's a link to it on Amazon.

1 comment:

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Nice review. Well done. I would agree that the focus on higher education is one of the many factors.