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Latest Books for August 2021

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BOMBER MAFIA

GENRE: NON-FICTION

BOMBER MAFIA by MALCOLM GLADWELL. An account of what led to the deadliest air raid of the Second World War; the firebombing of Tokyo by U.S. forces in 1945. Gladwell focuses on two army generals Curtis Le May and Haywood Hansell. They were part of the division known as the “Bomber Mafia”. These pilots were taught to aim at specific targets rather than the indiscriminate daylight bombing that would win the war. When Hansell took charge of the bomber units he used precision bombing which had poor results. He was replaced by Le May who went on to launch the most destructive raids costing Japan thousands of lives.

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THE BOY WHO DREW AUSCHWITZ

GENRE: NON-FICTION

THE BOY WHO DREW AUSCHWITZ by THOMAS GEVE. During the Second World War, Thomas and his mother were deported and imprisoned in Auschwitz, Gross Rosen, Buchenwald and Birkenau. As an adolescent of fifteen he suffered brutality at the hands of the SS and surrounded by death decided to make a visual record of the harrowing life and humiliations experienced by inmates in the camps in colour drawings. He was helped by others to hide these pictures from camp to camp. He did this to show his father who had managed to escape to Britain. His poignant illustrations included in the book remain a testimony for future generations. The book ends after he was liberated at eighteen.

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CRYING IN H MART

GENRE: ADDITIONAL READS

CRYING IN H MART by MICHELLE ZAUNER

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FIND YOUR WHY

GENRE: ADDITIONAL READS

FIND YOUR WHY by SIMON SINEK

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FLAPPY ENTERTAINS

GENRE: FICTION

FLAPPY ENTERTAINS by SANTA MONTEFIORE. A light humorous read about the life of Flappy Scott-Booth, the self-appointed queen bee of her Devonshire village. Married to a wealthy fast food restaurant owner she lives her luxurious and perfect life. All this changes when Hedda Harvey-Smith moves into the village and begins to dominate the social scene. Flappy, who was the hostess from whom everyone sought an invite, is now undermined. To complicate matters further on meeting Hedda’s handsome husband she falls in love with him at first sight. She is no longer unflappable. A wonderful escape for fans of Santa Montefiore who will not disappoint with her latest book.

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I SALUTE YOU SIR!

GENRE: SOUTH AFRICAN INTEREST

I SALUTE YOU SIR! by ZAN SWARTZBERG. Ardent Zionist Swartzberg has written this, which is his fourth book, while in his 90’s. He was one of the 800 South African Machal volunteers who fought in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. He travelled from Bethlehem in the Free State to heed the call for help as a young man of 21. He became a radio operator and air gunner in the fledgling Israeli army. The title of the book stems from the time Zan was officially invited to Israel to attend their annual Independence celebrations. He met Benjamin Netanyahu, who after observing all Zan’s ribbons shook his hand and said: “I salute you sir”. He shares his vivid memories and engaging stories

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LAST SUMMER AT GOLDEN HOTEL

GENRE: FICTION

LAST SUMMER AT GOLDEN HOTEL by ELYSSA FRIEDLAND. For more than sixty years the glamorous Golden Hotel run by the Goldman and Weingold families has been the vacation spot for Jewish families. As the facilities begin to fall apart, Brian who is the current manager, informs the family of a tempting offer to buy the resort. Three generations of each family meet once again in order to make a heart wrenching decision of renovating it or selling this once beloved getaway. Long buried secrets emerge, financial scandals erupt and the traditional grandparents with their millennial grandchildren all want a say in the future of the hotel.

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MAGIC OF US

GENRE: ADDITIONAL READS

MAGIC OF US

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WE WERE THE NEWMANS

GENRE: FICTION

WE WERE THE NEWMANS by BEVERLEY LESTER. Set against the backdrop of ‘Whites Only’ South Africa, London and Chile, Lester’s novel centres on fictional Jewish character Ruth Newman. Ruth grew up in naively in sheltered suburbia until in 1976 until at the age of seventeen her world was shattered when she became the sole survivor of a family shooting. She is sent to London to stay with relatives and heals after her trauma. Twenty years later when her career leads her back to South Africa for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission she is forced to confront her past and understand the complexities of forgiveness. A candid portrayal of love, loss, redemption and renewal.

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NOISE

GENRE: NON-FICTION

NOISE by DANIEL KAHNEMAN, OLIVIER SIBONY & CASS SUNSTEIN. In this book psychology professor Kahneman teams up with business professor Sibony and legal scholar Sunstein for a fascinating exploration of the bias and ‘noise’ that causes errors in human judgement. This occurs in all fields including medicine, law, economic forecasting, strategy and personnel selection. They comment on how people make judgments and decisions oblivious to the role of chance in their actions. Drawing on the latest findings they suggest breaking down complex decisions, collecting individual opinions and appointing a “decision observer” to identify bias. Written with insight about decision science and behavioural economics.

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PROOF OF LIFE

GENRE: NON-FICTION

PROOF OF LIFE by DANIEL LEVIN. A fast paced thriller woven into a memoir as Daniel searches for a missing young man in Syria over eighteen tense days. Daniel is an armed conflict mediator and responds to an acquaintance’s request to trace the son of an influential American. Using his extensive Middle Eastern contacts, he chases one lead to the next from Beirut to Dubai and to Amman. He dives into an underground world where arms, drugs and people are for sale. Levin begins this investigation with a heavy heart knowing that these disappearances can often culminate in tragedy. A story of loss, violence death and unspeakable cruelty and greed.

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RAPUNZEL ACT

GENRE: FICTION

RAPUNZEL ACT by ABI SILVER. A new thriller by Abi Silver featuring solicitor Constance Lamb and brilliant, temperamental barrister Judith Burton. Court TV has been launched to broadcast high profile cases and coincides with the case of ex- international footballer Danny Mallard accused of murdering his celebrity TV wife Rosie. Danny had gender reassignment and is now a trans woman called Debbie. The defence team find themselves battling evidence against Debbie while the prosecution plays to cameras and angry mobs clash over transgender rights. Thought provoking and enthralling.

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SECRETS FROM THE COCKPIT

GENRE: SOUTH AFRICAN INTEREST

SECRETS FROM THE COCKPIT by ROBERT SCHAPIRO. This memoir written by Robert Schapiro, a former jumbo jet captain tells what it was like to be one of the few Jewish pilots in the SA Air Force and SAA during apartheid years. A snapshot of military and civil aviation from the mid 70’s to his retirement from flying. It includes his years at Herzlia in Cape Town and flying for a Japanese airline. He writes frankly about emergency landings, passenger antics and how captains in SAA spent time overseas on drinking binges and coaxing air hostesses to be their ‘airline wives’. Uplifting and humorous offering a rare slice of aviation history.

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UNBECOMING

GENRE: FICTION

UNBECOMING by JOANNE FEDLER. A humorous and heart-breaking story of Jo who is on a three-month sabbatical in the country away from her husband and children. She meets an old friend Fiona who invites her to spend a night in the Australian bush with four other women. Jo is reluctant to join them and reveal anything about her current life which is unravelling. While at this special secluded location a young backpacker intrudes and this changes the dynamics. The women begin to share their secrets, wisdom and stories while exposing truths the others need to hear at this point in their lives. Bestselling author Fedler at her finest.

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WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR

GENRE: FICTION

WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR by PAM JENOFF. Sadie Gault had been living with her parents in the Krakow Ghetto in Poland. When the Nazis liquidated it Sadie and her pregnant mother had to seek refuge and live in the perilous sewers beneath the city. Meanwhile in a parallel narrative a young Catholic woman Ella Stepanek living with her Nazi collaborator stepmother sees Sadie hiding beneath a grate while on an errand to the market. So begins a lifesaving friendship in which both young women discover their inner resources as they face dangers and overwhelming odds. Jenoff shows how their friendship altered both their destinies.



Latest Books for July 2021

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MATTERS OF DEATH AND LIFE

GENRE: BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIRS

MATTERS OF DEATH AND LIFE by MARILYN YALOM. Psychiatrist Irvin Yalom and his wife, an esteemed author, had to face the diagnosis of her terminal cancer. They mutually decided to write alternating accounts of their last month’s together and Irvin’s first months alone to offer a rare window into facing mortality and coping with loss of a loved one. They grew up as teenage sweethearts and had a fulfilling marriage. In this memoir they investigate together questions of intimacy, love and grief. Marilyn struggled with grace to follow Nietzsche’s advice “to die at the right time” and Irvin to go on without her. Their voices complement each other and are a gift to the reader.

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ANTIQUITIES

GENRE: FICTION

ANTIQUITIES by CYNTHIA OZICK. Lloyd Petrie is living in the defunct Temple Academy for Boys in Westchester, now an old age home for its dwindling trustees. He labours over his memoirs reflecting on his childhood fascination with his cousin, an archaeologist in Egypt, his father who worshipped ancient relics and his friendship with a Jewish boy Ben Zion from Egypt’s Elephantine Island. Petrie was a loner who played chess against himself until he met Ben Zion. As he approaches the end of his life he finds his own pedigree has brought him nothing but emptiness. Ozick at 92 has provided a gem providing a peephole into the purpose of living in a world that outlasts us.

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LETTERS TO CAMONDO

GENRE: NON-FICTION

LETTERS TO CAMONDO by EDMUND DE WAAL. A collection of imaginary letters from Edmund de Waal to Moise de Camondo, banker and art collector who created a spectacular house in Paris in the 1870’s. Moise bequeathed his home and collection to the French state to be a museum in the name of his son Nissim who was killed in 1917. Chapters of the book describe this opulent mansion, his books, wine cellar, French furniture and Sevres porcelain. Despite his philanthropy, his life together with his family, ended tragically as Vichy France collaborated with the Nazis. De Waal has created a tapestry of lost time, Belle Époque society with beautiful colour images from the museum.

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DANGEROUS WOMEN

GENRE: FICTION

DANGEROUS WOMEN by HOPE ADAMS. In 1841 a ship the Rajah left London for Tasmania carrying 180 women convicted of petty crimes. The idealistic matron Kezia Hayter hoped to draw women closer by choosing 18 of them to assemble a quilt for the new governor. When one of them Hattie Matthews is stabbed Kezia helps the captain interview the witnesses. Some relate Hattie’s fear of being watched and others the embroidered square of fabric warning Hattie to keep silent. It becomes clear an imposter has stolen the identity of another woman aboard to flee from justice for a serious crime. Hope Adams was inspired to write this book after seeing an exhibit showcasing this tapestry.

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HITLER'S SOUTH AFRICAN SPIES

GENRE: ADDITIONAL READS

HITLER'S SOUTH AFRICAN SPIES by Evert Kleynhans

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I HAVE BEEN BURIED UNDER YEARS OF DUST

GENRE: BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIRS

I HAVE BEEN BURIED UNDER YEARS OF DUST by VALERIE GILPEER & EMILY GRODIN. A remarkable memoir by a mother and her autistic daughter Emily who had been unable to communicate until a miraculous breakthrough. Valerie and her husband had always known that Emily was intelligent though born with nonverbal communication which restricted her to only use physical gestures or one word responses. In her twenties Emily learnt to type with a communication devise and her first words were “I have been buried under years of dust and now I have so much to say”. Both Valerie and Emily are narrators in this heart-warming story which includes poetry written by Emily.

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IRRESISTIBLE

GENRE: NON-FICTION

IRRESISTIBLE by ADAM ALTER. A fascinating exploration by psychologist Alter on internet based addiction. As our world is filled with social media messaging, breaking news and video streaming our attention span is decreasing. Time spent compulsively on screens may affect your ability to relax, sleep, develop relationships and achieve goals. Alter provides insight into this and the science of why we cannot stop this obsessive behaviour. He gives practical advice on how to use technology differently and in so doing free yourself of the damaging effects on our well-being and health and happiness of our children as already Millennials struggle to interact with each other.

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IT'S NOT A BIG THING IN LIFE

GENRE: ADDITIONAL READS

IT'S NOT A BIG THING IN LIFE by Arnie Witkin

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MYSTERY OF MRS CHRISTIE

GENRE: FICTION

MYSTERY OF MRS CHRISTIE by MARIE BENEDICT. Blending truth and fiction Benedict tackles the mystery writer’s most unsolvable mystery. In 1926 she disappeared for a short period leaving her car abandoned with her fur coat inside at the edge of a pond. Her husband was a suspect as her marriage was troubled and she would not have taken her own life. The narrative fluctuates between the events and circumstances of her disappearance with flashbacks to her early life and unhappy marriage. Adding to this is Christie’s struggle to reconcile her longing to write with society’s expectations of a good wife and mother. It is thought that this real life mystery surpassed her written novels.

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THE PROMISE

GENRE: FICTION

THE PROMISE by DAMON GALGUT. A portrait of a family spanning decades of upheaval in South Africa. The Swart family are reluctant to honour their mother’s dying wish to bequeath a house on their farm outside Pretoria to their black maid Salome. The youngest sibling Amor heard her father vow to do when she was thirteen. Years later when her father suffered from a fatal snakebite her brother and sister resist Amor’s call to honour his promise to transfer the property to Salome. Galgut moves fluidly between each character observing the dreams of this damaged family in a country moving from old divisions to a new fairer society. Literary fiction at its finest.

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SEARCHING FOR SARAH

GENRE: NON-FICTION

SEARCHING FOR SARAH by DOMINIQUE MALHERBE. Since childhood Dominique had been intrigued by the mystery surrounding her great aunt Sarah Goldblatt and CJ Langenhoven. He named her, this young Jewish woman as the executrix of his literary legacy. The author sets out to uncover their fascinating love story and the possibility that Sara had given birth to Langenhoven’ s son. Sarah’s friendship with him began when he edited an Oudtshoorn newspaper in 1913 and she was his assistant. Using original letters, archival material and family reflections Dominique shares the enduring relationship Sarah had with both Langenhoven and his wife.

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STARGAZING IN THE ATOMIC AGE

GENRE: NON-FICTION

STARGAZING IN THE ATOMIC AGE by ANNE GOLDMAN. During World War 11 a group of artists, mathematicians and scientists challenged themselves to solve some of the most difficult questions posed by our age. Many had fled Europe while others were born in America to immigrants escaping Russia’s pogroms. This collection of essays probes Einstein’s love of Mozart’s music, the questioning mind-set that led scientists to develop the atomic bomb, Rothko and Chagall caught between the anti-Semitism of their Russian birthplace and the west and the vitality of Saul Bellow’s Jewish protagonists. Goldman weaves in her own family’s story and captures her subject’s ardour to enrich art and invention.

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THE OTHERS

GENRE: FICTION

THE OTHERS by SARAH BLAU. This Israeli author makes her debut with this psychological thriller. Three best friends in college make a pact to never have children and name themselves the “Others’ after the childless women in the Bible. Now decades later one of them is murdered with the word ‘mother’ printed on her forehead in red ink and a baby doll glued to her hand. Sheila, the narrator is one of the three and finds herself caught between being a suspect and a potential victim as the secrets of the women’s emotionally fraught past are revealed. A compelling read revealing a glimpse into femininity in relation to Judaism, aging and motherhood.

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TWINS OF AUSCHWITZ

GENRE: ADDITIONAL READS

TWINS OF AUSCHWITZ by Eva Mozes Kor

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HIRSCH’S VEGAN COOKBOOK

GENRE: ADDITIONAL READS

HIRSCH’S VEGAN COOKBOOK by Margaret Hirsch

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WINEMAKER’S WIFE

GENRE: FICTION

WINEMAKER’S WIFE by KRISTIN HARMEL. A moving story alternating between 1940 at the Chauveau winery near Reims to the present day. Michael and Ines owned the champagne house during the Nazi occupation assisted by Theo and his half Jewish wife Celine. Ines made a dangerous mistake by befriending a Nazi collaborator while Celine followed her heart to find happiness. These women risked the lives of those they loved and the winery that tied them together. Liv Kent is invited by her eccentric elderly French grandmother Edith to accompany her from New York to Reims. Liv learns what happened at Maison Chauveau to change the life of her grandparents and their friends.



Latest Books for June 2021

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BIG SUMMER

GENRE: FICTION

BIG SUMMER by JENNIFER WEINER. Daphne Berg is shocked when successful and lovely Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life after a rift in their friendship. Drue asks Daphne to be her maid -of- honour at her wedding on Cape Cod. Daphne is well known for her Instagram posts and her internet avatar of body acceptance. Against her better instincts Daphne agrees to reconcile with Drue by attending her socialite wedding. At first this extravagant event runs smoothly until the plot becomes like an Agatha Christie thriller. Weiner has written a witty novel of the complexities of female friendship and the resilience of the human heart.

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HALF-LIFE

GENRE: FICTION

HALF-LIFE by JILLIAN CANTOR. The author creates two alternative timelines, one that mirrors Marie Curie’s actual life the other explores one had she remained in Poland in 1891 and married the mathematician Kazimierz despite his family’s disapproval. Marie left to attend the Sorbonne in Paris and met Pierre Curie. She discovered radium and became the first woman to win the Nobel prize. Cantor begins her novel with Marie on her deathbed at 66 wondering what would have happened to her if she had remained in Russian Poland and married her first love. Both versions of Marie are dedicated to love, work and family with the theme of how choices determine outcomes. Thought provoking and unique.

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WIN

GENRE: FICTION

WIN by HARLAN COBEN. A compelling mystery full of Coben’s signature surprises, deception and lies. The story is written in the first person by Windsor Horne Lockwood known as Win. He becomes a suspect when a recluse living in a penthouse is found murdered. A suitcase with Win’s initials together with a stolen painting belonging to his cousin Patricia, who had been abducted twenty years previously, were found in the apartment. Win realises that he needs to assist the FBI with this investigation as he has a personal connection to the case and his unique brand of justice. An intricately plotted and engrossing thriller from beginning to end.

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ISRESILIENCE

GENRE: NON-FICTION

ISRESILIENCE by MICHAEL DICKSON and NAOMI L. BAUM. Isresilience is a study of a nation who thrived despite challenges, conflict, wars and gruesome terrorism. Each chapter highlights the accomplishments of individuals from different backgrounds and traces the characteristic that unites them. The book features human rights icon Natan Sharansky, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, orphaned Holocaust survivor, Gadeer Kamal Mreeh first Druze woman to be elected in the Knesset and others. They all remained proud of their Israeli identity without forsaking their ethnic origins, showed individual strength and achieved inspirational things.

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THE JEWISH WORLD OF ELVIS PRESLEY

GENRE: BOOK OF THE MONTH

THE JEWISH WORLD OF ELVIS PRESLEY by ROSELLE KLINE CHARTOCK. The author shares the deep affinity Elvis had to Jews. At a young age his mother Gladys told him of his Jewish great-great grandmother Nancy Burdine, an immigrant from Lithuania but warned him to keep his lineage to himself. Chartock discusses the nature of his personal relationships with Jews in Memphis including merchants and those in the music and film industry. Elvis cemented a lifelong friendship with the Lansky brothers who outfitted him till the day he died and the jeweller Harry Levitch. Jewish songwriters supplied him with many of his award winning hits. A captivating read for fans of this revolutionary cultural icon of the 20th century.

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LIGHT OF DAYS

GENRE: HOLOCAUST

LIGHT OF DAYS by JUDY BATALION. A history bringing to light the extraordinary achievements of brave young Jewish women who put themselves in mortal danger to became resistance fighters. Batalion follows them through their network in the Polish ghettos as they carried out their missions and their arrest and imprisonment in Gestapo prisons and concentration camps. Few survived to see liberation. These brave women, mostly unknown heroes, were praised by Emanuel Ringelblum, famed Warsaw ghetto leader. The author uses interviews, diaries, current research and includes black and white photographs.

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REASON TO BELIEVE

GENRE: NON-FICTION

REASON TO BELIEVE by DOVID GOTTLIEB. The author focuses on the importance of truth and that our success and ultimate happiness in life depend on it. Truth is crucial for navigating life’s challenges and without it our goals move further away. In his masterful work Dovid Gottlieb claims that there are so many religions and worldviews which claim authenticity and it is sometimes difficult to validate that Judaism is true. Gottlieb, one of the greatest contemporary teachers of Judaism guides the reader on a logical, consistent and convincing path to discover truth: a powerful “reason to believe”

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SHALOM UGANDA

GENRE: NON-FICTION

SHALOM UGANDA by JANICE MASUR. A most fascinating account of the small Ashkenazi Jewish Community living in Kampala in the 1950’s when it was part of British East Africa. The author offers a glimpse into their day-to-day life, Jewish practises and the way the they lived with echoes of the Holocaust. This tiny community did not have a rabbi, a synagogue or burial society but Masur’s parents preserved traditions as much as they could. Despite any open religious discrimination or anti-Semitism Masur’s parents gave her the choice of hiding or revealing her Jewish identity. Parts of her recollections include charming anecdotes. The family left for New Zealand in 1961.

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SOCIAL GRACES

GENRE: FICTION

SOCIAL GRACES by RENEE ROSEN. A gripping novel spanning three decades about two socialites Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt who are part of the glittering world of Manhattan’s upper crust. Rosen examines the rivalry between these two women as they try to outdo one another. She reveals their humanity as they deal with death, betrayal and the ultimate shame of divorce. Despite their wealth they have few legal rights yet defy convention and make significant societal contributions such as funding the Metropolitan Opera and woman’s suffrage. Written with wit about this Gilded Age –this is a must for fans of historical fiction.

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SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE

GENRE: BOOK OF THE MONTH

SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE by LEN SWIMMER. This inspirational book details Len Swimmer’s varied life. He is a former organiser and speaker at motivational workshops for senior executives. The author has been fired, retrenched and left with the financial strain of having to support his family. His life has been devastated by the sudden death of his wife and the suicide of his teenage son. He faced adversity with resilience and reinvented himself with life and employment changes. He has worked in many fields, lectured at university and established a business college. On his retirement he chaired a civic organisation fighting corruption, environmental harm and poor services to overcrowded informal settlements. Beautifully illustrated with his paintings and wildlife photographs.

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THE NAZI’S GRANDDAUGHTER

GENRE: HOLOCAUST

THE NAZI’S GRANDDAUGHTER by SILVIA FOTI. The author grew up believing her Lithuanian grandfather Jonas Noreika was a hero who resisted the Soviet occupiers in World War 11, survived two years in a Nazi concentration camp and was executed by the KGB in 1947. However, when she attended a ceremony to honour him in Lithuania she heard a rumour that he had been responsible for the murder of Jews in Plunge. This led her to embark on a twenty-year quest to find the truth. Her well documented account reveals that he collaborated with the Nazis and under his watch roughly 8,000 Jews were killed. A courageous memoir which led Silvia to be vilified by the Lithuanian community in Chicago and Lithuania.

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PARIS CHILDREN

GENRE: FICTION

PARIS CHILDREN by GLORIA GOLDREICH. The novel begins with Alfred Dreyfus’s death in 1935 in Paris. His granddaughter Madeleine Levy joins the Resistance five years later when France is under Nazi occupation. She is assigned to rescue Jewish children and to help smuggle them to Palestine. On top of her constant fear for the safety of both her family and fellow Resistance compatriots she faces the personal fear that her partial deafness has worsened. The book shows Paris in its darkest hour-some Parisians collaborated while others were not complicit. An inspiring read illuminating the power of hope and courage in the face of adversity.

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YIDDISH: BIOGRAPHY OF A LANGUAGE

GENRE: NON-FICTION

YIDDISH: BIOGRAPHY OF A LANGUAGE by JEFFREY SHANDLER. This distinguished professor of Jewish studies at Rutgers University presents the story of this centuries old language of Ashkenazi Jews spoken in German speaking lands and Eastern Europe from the Middle Ages to the present. Shandler uses the rubric of biographical profile to examine the uses of Yiddish and the values invested in it. Each chapter addresses a different topic concerning the language. They include discussions on its origins, intellectual flourishing and revival. Yiddish still continues to play a role in Hasidic life today and many performers and writers turn to it for artistic inspiration.



Latest Books for May 2021

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A LAND LIKE YOU

GENRE: FICTION

A LAND LIKE YOU by TOBIE NATHAN. In twentieth century Cairo Esther, an orphaned child suffers a traumatic accident and her relatives are convinced spirits possesses her. She is forced to marry an older man and eventually after seven years of marriage has a son Zohar but no milk to feed him. She seeks a woman in the Muslim quarter who has recently had a daughter Masreya. As time passes, Zohar and Masreya meet up and form a passionate attachment linked by their destiny. The novel leaps from the splendid palace of the rich to hidden passageways of the Jewish and Arab quarters. Nathan’s unforgettable characters provide the reader with a rich mosaic of life in Egypt from 1918 to 1950.

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AGENT SONYA

GENRE: SECOND WORLD WAR

AGENT SONYA by BEN MACINTYRE. Born to a secular Jewish family from Berlin Ursula signed up with the Communists in her teens. Her career in espionage under the code name Sonya began in 1930 after she relocated to Shanghai with her first husband. Her risky assignments took her from there to Poland, Switzerland and eventually England. She was skilled at building radio transmitters and spoke several languages. She was about to help the Soviets develop a nuclear weapon but her conscience was shaken when she realised Stalin’s murderous plans. Macintyre shares the story of a spy who influenced the Cold War driven by ambition, romance and adventure.

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FUTURE TENSE

GENRE: SOUTH AFRICA - POLITICS

FUTURE TENSE by TONY LEON. In his riveting new book, experienced politician and writer, Leon provides a penetrating insight into South Africa today and its prospective future. He analyses South Africa’s recent history focusing on the corrupt years of the last decade. He has an intimate view of the presidents both past and present based on political involvement with them. He includes the power struggles in the official opposition party, which saw the exit of its first black leader. Leon wrote this during the coronavirus lockdown and he examines how the disease and the response has affected our economy. He argues that amidst our fear: ‘the hope for a better country remains an improbable, but not impossible dream’

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LANA’S WAR

GENRE: FICTION

LANA’S WAR by ANITA ABRIEL. Lana Antanova, daughter of a Russian countess arrives at the convent in Paris where her husband teaches music and sees him executed by Gestapo officers for hiding a Jewish girl. While still grieving she is recruited to join the Resistance. She travels to the French Rivera to infiltrate the community of Russian aristocrats who socialize with German officers. Her cover makes her the mistress of a wealthy Swiss industrialist Guy who is also part of the Resistance. They are constantly in danger but Lana does not expect to grow attached to a young Jewish girl and to Guy with his secret past. A sweeping story of survival and second chances enhanced by vivid details of the German occupation of France.

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HOW I LOST MY MOTHER

GENRE: PSYCHOLOGICAL INTEREST

HOW I LOST MY MOTHER by LESLIE SWARTZ. Clinical psychologist Leslie Swartz has written an honest account of the relationship between a mother and a son and an exploration of what care for the dying means in society today. He writes about his late mother, Elsie and her life with humour and tenderness. His intimate narrative, as lovingly objective as one can be towards a parent, shows how love is about losing a loved one in multiple ways. He speaks of the challenges faced by many which are often hidden today. Adults who have are fortunate to have parents alive or those who have lost their parents will identify with the sadness and joyous moments shared in this book.

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MINE!

GENRE: PSYCHOLOGICAL INTEREST

MINE! by MICHAEL HELLER and JAMES SALZMAN. These two law professors bring their expertise to explain the many ways that humans define, claim and defend ownership. Ranging from knee space on airplanes to inheritance, internet passwords to genetic codes, natural resources to online purchases. The authors are sceptical of the sharing economy which fragments ownership e.g. Airbnb renters which are not always for the common good. They provide intriguing legal cases and historical lessons amidst a display of much wit. Mine sets out to change the way we think about what we own which is often at odds with reality and asks us to think about what is fair and right.

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MILK FED

GENRE: FICTION

MILK FED by MELISSA BRODY. A bold and witty story about twenty-four-year-old Rachel, a lapsed Jew who has made diet her religion. She has an overbearing mother who has always criticised what she ate. She works at a talent agency in Los Angeles and merely subsists. She meets Miriam, a plump Orthodox Jewish woman who works at Rachel’s favourite frozen yoghurt shop and Rachel becomes entranced by her. As they grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey of validation and she comes to realise that Miriam’s mother is just as over bearing as her own is. She learns that she does not need anyone’s acceptance and needs to remake herself and her future. A funny mediation on love with superlative emotional insight.

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PEOPLE ON THE BEACH

GENRE: SECOND WORLD WAR

PEOPLE ON THE BEACH by ROSIE WHITEHOUSE. The author provides an account of the seaboard refugee operations that delivered Jewish survivors of the Third Reich to what would become Israel. More than 1,000 Holocaust survivors secretly boarded a ship on a beach in Italy to sail to Palestine. They embarked on an eight-day journey across the Mediterranean on a boat filled beyond capacity and had to survive the British naval blockade there. Whitehouse interviewed many and learnt of the Jewish Brigade of the British Army who enabled survivors escape to Israel as well as of Italian partisans who helped overcrowded ships sail. Through Whitehouse’s writing the reader follows in the footsteps of these secret passengers

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THE PIANO STUDENT

GENRE: FICTION

THE PIANO STUDENT by LEE SINGER. The book centres on the affair between one of the most celebrated pianists Vladimir Horowitz and his young student Nico Kaufmann in the late 1930’s. This liaison was kept secret from Horowitz’s wife, the daughter of Toscanini. Kaufmann only narrates details of this affair in the 1980’s when he spends his final years playing in Zurich bars never reaching his teacher’s mastery. The author, whose real name is historian Eva Gesine Baur, wrote the book after accessing Kaufman’s unpublished archives which includes letters from Horowitz. The novel portrays the duplicity of his personal life and is a riveting tale of sensitive musical perfection amidst love and denied longing.

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SERPENTINE

GENRE: FICTION

SERPENTINE by JONATHAN KELLERMAN. Homicide detective Milo Sturgis joins psychologist Alex Delaware to solve a cold case. Dorothy Swoboda was found with a bullet hole in her head in a torched Cadillac on the infamous Mulholland Drive. Her daughter Ellie, who was three at the time, has sold her lucrative business for millions and remains haunted by the death of her mother. She demands an explanation for what one report called murder and another a vehicle accident. On investigating, Alex and Milo uncover a disturbing number of murders that seem related to Dorothy and they realize that the killing spree may not be over. Another Kellerman suspenseful thriller.

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TELLING PEOPLE WHAT THEY DON’T WANT TO HEAR

GENRE: SOUTH AFRICA - POLITICS

TELLING PEOPLE WHAT THEY DON’T WANT TO HEAR by ROY ISACOWITZ. In this memoir, Roy shares the life of his father activist Jock Isacowitz. Jock achieved much in his lifetime-he fought in World War 11 as part of South Africa’s forces, joined and left the Communist party and became a founding member of the Liberal Party. He was a leader of SAJBD and was arrested during Sharpeville massacre. He died shortly after this when Roy was ten. Roy has allowed us to see this period in our history by introducing us to Jock one of the few whites from the 40’s who told people what they did not want to hear. A vivid and humorous account of the legacy of this progressive man.

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UNSTOPPABLE

GENRE: BOOK OF THE MONTH

UNSTOPPABLE by JOSHUA M GREENE. Siggi Wilzig was liberated from Mauthausen after experiencing two death marches and near starvation. He went to work for the US Army hunting Nazis and this earned him a visa to America in 1947. He vowed never to go hungry again, to support the Jewish people and to speak out against injustice. From shovelling snow to labouring in sweatshops, he rose to become CEO of a New York listed oil company and a commercial bank, which came to hold 4 billion dollars in assets. Greene begins with Siggi’ s arrival in America after losing most of his family and then back to his upbringing and life in Germany. A biography of a Holocaust survivor who defied all odds to be a success and was a hero to everyone around him. A riveting narrative revealing Siggi’ s determination to live life to the fullest.



Latest Books for April 2021

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The Lost Shtetl

GENRE: FICTION

LOST SHTETL by MAX GROSS. The tiny Jewish shtetl of Kreskol has lived for decades in isolation and escaped the devastations of the Holocaust and the Cold War. They are forced into the 21st century when Pesha who has suffered an acrimonious divorce suddenly disappears followed by her husband. The Elders send outcast Yankel to alert the Polish authorities. Yankel is confronted by a modern world and met there with disbelief. The village makes headlines worldwide and the townspeople face the challenge of holding onto past traditions and the present they now face. Gross has written an entertaining and imaginative story reminiscent of Sholem Aleichem.

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Bugsy Siegel

GENRE: BIOGRAPHY

BUGSY SIEGEL by MICHAEL SHNAYERSON. The life story of notorious Jewish gangster Benjamin Siegel who rose from poverty to ill-gotten riches. He grew up with his family of Ukrainian immigrants on the Lower East side and through his criminal activities and determination became the owner of a huge Vegas casino resort. Shnayerson includes his underworld friends of the early 1930’s especially his partner in crime Meyer Lansky who became part of his violent syndicate. With his good looks and money, he became a celebrity in Hollywood. Once the Second World War ended he seized the opportunity to open an elegant casino resort in Las Vegas. A captivating portrait of Bugsy showing all his flaws and complexities.

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Friends and Enemies

GENRE: BIOGRAPHY

FRIENDS AND ENEMIES by BARBARA AMIEL. Barbara grew up in London during the Blitz and after her parent’s divorce settled in Canada. She had a difficult childhood but being ambitious and intelligent became a highly regarded columnist and broadcaster. She challenged the sexual mores of society and made many friends such as Nancy Kissinger, Elton John, Oscar de la Renta. Her fourth husband newspaper magnate Conrad Black was jailed and she has never forgiven the socialites who snubbed her. Barbara’s press quotes and extravagant lifestyle caused her to be a subject of fascination over four decades. A brutally honest, richly detailed memoir.

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Goring's Man in Paris

GENRE: HOLOCAUST

GORING’S MAN IN PARIS by JONATHAN PETROPOULUS. An engrossing biography of a notorious Nazi art plunderer and his career in the post-war art world. Bruno Lohse was appointed by Goring and supervised the theft and distribution of 22, 000 works of art largely from French Jews. He helped Goring stage private exhibitions in Paris during the war. After the war he escaped justice and continued to offer stolen pieces to American museums. Dozens of paintings by Renoir, Monet and Pissarro and others were found in his Zurich bank vault and home following his death. The author unearths details of Lohse’s life, relationship with Goring and rumoured involvement in the murder of Jews.

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The Gospel According to Wanda

GENRE: FICTION

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO WANDA B. LAZARUS by LYNN JOFFE. A witty, satirical novel which follows the many lives of the main character Wanda. Accidently cursed with immortality during the Roman occupation, Wanda has numerous reincarnations as she moves through different times in Jewish history. In this fantasy tale Wanda meets many historical and mythological characters. Her quest is to become the tenth muse and she hopes to fulfil the difficult tasks set by the Nine Muses of Antiquity in order to become the tenth. Wanda is a heroine of our time and the book will uplift and entertain throughout.

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Lost Souls

GENRE: FICTION

LOST SOULS by JONATHAN & JESSE KELLERMAN. Deputy Coroner Clay Edison investigates a case when the remains of a baby are found by a demolition company near a local park in Berkeley. A man approaches Clay with a ‘dog-eared ‘picture of his baby sister taken fifty years ago believing that the remains could be her. Clay, a new father himself, is determined to find out who the baby belonged to and to give it a deserving resting place. Much will be unearthed as the story unfolds. Violence, secrets and betrayals. Once again father and son, Jonathan and Jesse, will engage the reader from beginning till the end.

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Night Swim

GENRE: FICTION

NIGHT SWIM by MEGAN GOLDIN. Rachel Krail, a true crime podcast host of Guilty or Not Guilty comes to the small town of Neapolis to cover a devastating rape trial. Champion swimmer Scott Blair is to be tried for the rape of high school student Kelly Moore. As she attends the trial Rachel finds herself struggling to remain impartial. Matters are further complicated when she begins receiving notes from Hannah Stills. Hannah’s sister Jennifer was raped, beaten and drowned in 1992. Hannah begs Rachel for her help as Jennifer’s assailant was never identified. Rachel is left wondering whether these two assaults could be linked and she begins to uncover startling connections.

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The Paris Library

GENRE: FICTION

THE PARIS LIBRARY by JANET SKESLIEN CHARLES. In Paris in 1939 Odile Souchet has a dream job at the American Library. This all changes when the Nazis invade and she places herself in danger by delivering books to Jewish patrons. Odile joins the Resistance and after the war is disappointed to experience betrayal. Odile’s story is juxtaposed with that of Lily, a lonely teenager living in Montana in the 1980’s. Lily befriends her neighbour Odile who teaches her French and reveals details about her life in Paris. As Lily uncovers more about Odile’s mysterious past she finds they share more than a love of language. A novel for those who cherish books and libraries.

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Judaism's Life Changing Ideas

GENRE: BOOK OF THE MONTH

JUDAISM’S LIFE CAHNGING IDEAS by RABBI JONATHAN SACKS. A captivating book providing insightful lessons from each Torah portion. Rabbi Sacks includes topics such as prejudice and genocide, marriage and communication, emotional intelligence and gossiping. Every sentence rings true in this COVID 19 age- in a world in need of repair. Sacks covers the full range of human existence with passion, humour and wit. In the words of Rabbi Sacks, “if we change the way we think, we can change the way we feel, which changes the way we act which changes the person we become.” As the true educator he has always been he draws on his endless knowledge crossing the boundaries of theology, economics, history, psychology, the sciences and arts.

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Thanks a Thousand

GENRE: THOUGHT-PROVOKING NON-FICTION

THANKS A THOUSAND by A. J. JACOBS. The author decided to show his gratitude to all involved in producing his morning cup of coffee. This journey took him across the globe and changed his life once he discovered that gratitude can make us happier and more connected. He realised that his daily coffee and many other items are made possible by hundreds of people we take for granted. By thanking these people Jacobs found much needed brightness in his life and what began as a dare from his son provided him with wonderful insights. He now focuses on the hundreds of things that go right every day and teaches us not to take things for granted. A cup of coffee is worth a thousand “thank you’s“

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The Ravine

GENRE: HOLOCAUST

THE RAVINE by WENDY LOWER. Historian Lower was shown a photograph of a group of men executing a Jewish woman and boy at the edge of a ravine on the outskirts of Miropol. On closer inspection she saw that the woman was holding the shins of another child. As there are virtually no images of a Jewish family at the actual moment of murder her lengthy investigative odyssey began. She identified the shooters who were Ukrainian policemen and the photographer who was a member of the Resistance. Lower could not unequivocally identify the Jewish family in the image but she uncovered a likely possibility through records at Yad Vashem. A meticulously researched book on Nazi genocide.

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Think Again

GENRE: THOUGHT-PROVOKING NON-FICTION

THINK AGAIN by ADAM GRANT. Psychologist Grant challenges readers to rethink their outlooks on an ongoing basis with a flexible mind. In a rapidly changing world we need to spend an equal amount of time rethinking as thinking. There is a benefit to doubt, embracing the unknown as well as being wrong. He states that evidence shows that leaders who seek critical feedback lead a more innovative team. Grant pushes us to reconsider, revaluate and reimagine our beliefs, thoughts, and identities and get to the core of why we continue to hold on to our ideas. He supports his text with research and entertaining anecdotes. Learning to think again will lead to increased mental agility.

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This Magnificent Dappled Sea

GENRE: FICTION

THIS MAGNIFICENT DAPPLED SEA by DAVID BIRO. In the 1990’s a young Catholic boy Luca living in a small Italian village is diagnosed with leukaemia. After an extensive search for a bone marrow donor the only match found is Joseph Neiman, a rabbi in New York who is grappling with his Jewish faith. This raises questions for Luca’s grandmother when a DNA test reveals her grandson’s Ashkenazi profile. After the death of his grandmother, Nina who nursed him and remained his support, investigates his birth. She uncovers terrible secrets from World War 11 that reveal how Luca could have Jewish genes. As years pass Luca bonds with Joseph and the novel challenges the idea of identity and celebrates the ties that bind us together.



Latest Books for March 2021

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Acts Of My Mother

GENRE: MEMOIRS/BIOGRAPHY

ACTS OF MY MOTHER by ANDRAS FORGACH. The book originated when Andras received a call in 2013 from a childhood friend who worked as a researcher at the secret police archive in Budapest. Forgach’s parents came from Palestine in 1947 as young idealists and settled in Budapest becoming Stalinists, lifelong anti-Zionists and spies. The story is told through flashbacks from 1940’s to the 1980’s and jumps from post war Palestine to London to Cold War Budapest. Forgach is forced to confront the truth about his cherished mother who was an informant on her acquaintances, family, friends and even her children. The book combines memoir, poetry and official records.

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Beauty Of What Remains

GENRE: INSPIRATIONAL/RELIGIOUS INTEREST

BEAUTY OF WHAT REMAINS by STEVE LEDER. As senior rabbi at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, Rabbi Leder has spent many years counselling on the complexities of loss and dying. This inspiring book is based on his pastoral and personal experiences. He learnt the way death teaches us how to live with more meaning by showing us not only what we have lost but the beauty of what remains. Written with a sense of his own vulnerability after his own father’s recent death, Leder provides a heartfelt and comforting narrative. A worthy addition to literature on the end of life and death.

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Blessing And The Curse

GENRE: LITERARY INTEREST

BLESSING AND THE CURSE by ADAM KIRSCH. Poet and literary critic Kirsch discusses major books by over thirty writers showing how the twentieth century transformed Jewish life. His authors range from Kafka to Philip Roth, Elie Wiesel to Hannah Arendt. He includes works by Primo Levi whose books shed new light on the literature of the Holocaust and Israeli writers such as Yehuda Amichai and S. Yizhar whose writings showed the paradoxes in Israeli society. Kirsch finally discusses the great thinkers of the modern century such as Martin Buber and Mordechai Kaplan. An insightful and engaging work.

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Concealed

GENRE: MEMOIRS/BIOGRAPHY

CONCEALED by ESTHER AMINI. An uplifting memoir of the Amini family who fled Iran, where they lived secretly as Jews, to settle in the United States in the 60’s. Esther struggled to find her voice in a family who faced a modern world that threatened their traditions. She was prohibited from reading books or listening to talks that might corrupt her and almost forced into an early Persian marriage. She had to balance her devotion to her parents and community against her desire to pursue a college education. The central theme of concealment and visibility reveals what her parents and thousands of other Mashhadi Jews endured.

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Dreams Never Dreamed

GENRE: INSPIRATIONAL/RELIGIOUS INTEREST

DREAMS NEVER DREAMED by KALMAN SAMUELS. Rabbi Kalman’s inspiring and heart-warming memoir takes us on his personal journey from secular to Orthodox Judaism, his marriage to Malki and the birth of their children. When Yossi was born in 1977, he became blind and deaf after a faulty vaccination. On starting at a special school, his teacher who was herself deaf from the age of five, taught Yossi sign language, braille and to speak Hebrew. Malki had made a pledge to the Almighty that if Yossi improved she would dedicate her life to helping others. She established the “Shalva” centre for disabled children and their families in Jerusalem.

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The Faberge Secret

GENRE: FICTION

THE FABÉRGE SECRET by CHARLES BELFOURE. A historical novel set in Russia in the imperial court of Tsar Nicholas 11 and Tsarina Alexandra. Prince Dimitri Markov is confronted by the death and destruction of the Jews following a pogrom. He cannot believe that the Jews deserved such brutality. When he meets the educated and passionate Doctor Katya Golitsyn their unlikely affair begins. Katya feels a personal connection to the Jewish people after finding out that her great-grandfather had converted from Judaism to Christianity. Dimitri must then choose between his loyalty to Tsar Nicholas and the revolution, which will bring justice to millions of Russians.

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The Lost Boys

GENRE: FICTION

THE LOST BOYS by FAYE KELLERMAN. Bertram Lanz, a 35-year-old cognitively disabled man has gone missing on a field trip with staff and other residents of his care home. As Detective Peter Becker and his partner investigate, they are convinced that Bertram did not lose his way but left with Elsie Schulung, who had worked as a nurse there. These theories proof to be elusive when Elsie disappears and there are traces of blood in her kitchen. As the search continues, they discover the remains of a young man who vanished a decade earlier. The detectives need to sift through clues and evidence to find the dark secrets hidden in the woods in these two intertwined cases.

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Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook

GENRE: FICTION

MISS GRAHAM’S COLD WAR COOKBOOK by CELIA REES. Edith Graham, a 40-year-old British schoolteacher is sent to Germany to help resurrect German primary schools after the war. However, her real purpose is to send coded messages to her Secret Service handlers in the UK about war criminals and spies in post war Germany. She creates the perfect alter ego for herself as author Stella Snelling writer of a magazine cookery column. She embeds crucial intelligence within the recipes. Rees includes these and menus of the time at the beginning of most chapters. A compelling historical novel about bravery, betrayal and female friendship.

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Organs Of Sense

GENRE: FICTION

ORGANS OF SENSE by ADAM EHRLICH SACHS. A book for the scientifically inclined reader. In 1666 Gottfried Leibniz, the philosopher who invented calculus, travels to the Bohemian mountains to assess the sanity of a blind astronomer who has predicted an impending eclipse which would plunge Europe into temporary darkness. The astronomer whose father was Emperor Maxmilian’s Imperial Sculptor tells the story behind his strange prediction and recounts his entanglements with the Hapsburgs. These mordant and funny encounters stage the drama of reason and lunacy and influence the scepticism between the astronomer and Leibniz.

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Three Rings

GENRE: LITERARY INTEREST

THREE RINGS by DANIEL MENDELSOHN. In this book Mendelsohn weaves together the stories of three exiled writers who turned to the classics of the past to create masterpieces of their own. One is the scholar, Erich Auerbach, a German Jew who found refuge at a university in Istanbul in 1936. The other is Francois Fenelon exiled by the French King in the 17th Century and German novelist W.G. Sebald who self-exiled to England as a young man. Amidst these is an account of Mendelsohn’s struggle to write The Lost, a family saga of the Holocaust and a personal memoir about reading the Odyssey with his elderly father. A brilliant, captivating, intellectual achievement.

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The Spider

GENRE: NOTEWORTHY NON-FICTION

THE SPIDER by BARRY LEVINE. Pulitzer prize journalist Levine unearths a comprehensive account of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein’s life and criminal web including the role of Ghislaine Maxwell. He begins with Epstein’s young adulthood in Coney Island and earliest accusations of sexual misconduct. He moves onto the murky sources of his fortune, his circle of friends and socialites, his endemic procuring of underage girls for sexual needs and his ties to powerful men including Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and Donald Trump. He concludes with his final hours in jail and the mystery surrounding his death. The book includes rare photographs.

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24/6

GENRE: NOTEWORTHY NON-FICTION

24/6 by TIFFANY SHLAIN. Filmmaker and internet pioneer Shlain eloquently argues the merit of unplugging from technology for one day of the week. Though secular herself she chooses Shabbat as a time for her family to recharge. They make challah, enjoy a traditional Friday meal and use it as their day of reconnection and reflection. Shlain offers lessons she has learnt practising “Technology Shabbat” over the past ten years and delves into the neuroscience, philosophy and history behind a weekly day of rest across cultures. Written with her unique wit, warmth and humour.

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Where To Find ME

GENRE: FICTION

WHERE TO FIND ME by ALBA ARIKHA. The paths of Flora Dobbs, an elderly widow and Hannah Karalis, a teenage girl cross when Hannah is locked out of her Notting Hill flat in 1980. Their friendship is cut short by Flora’s sudden departure. Nineteen years later Hannah receives a box of books from Flora including her notebook. She discovers that Flora had journeyed from Nazi-occupied Paris to Palestine to London in the 1950’s. In this poignant story told in dual narratives Hannah sets out to find out the truth about Flora’s life. Whereas Hannah had not suffered the same horrors and upheavals as Flora, she too experienced family betrayal and loss. Their brief encounter had long lasting consequences.



Latest Books for February 2021

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All This Could Be Yours

GENRE: FICTION

ALL THIS COULD BE YOURS by JAMI ATTENBERG. Victor Tuchman, a shady real estate developer suffers a heart attack in New Orleans. His immediate family gather at his deathbed struggling to make sense of their past. His wife Barbra, always stoic, remembers his transition from shy suitor to abusive husband. His daughter Alex, a newly divorced lawyer is desperate to find the truth about his criminal past and his son Gary is notably absent. Gary’s wife Twyla visits the hospital trying to conceal her own family secrets. The novel takes place in one very long day but encompasses the entirety of lifetimes. Attenberg excels in the cameos she provides in this intriguing saga about Victor and his dysfunctional family.

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A Bend In Stars

GENRE: FICTION

A BEND IN STARS by RACHEL BARENBAUM. Set in Kovno, Russia in 1914 two siblings strive to build their lives amidst the confusion of impending war. Miri Abramov and her fiancé Yuri are both doctors. Miri faces difficulty in a society where women surgeons are still shunned. Her brother Vanya is a brilliant scientist bent on proving Einstein’s still unpublished theory of relativity. He hopes to sell photographs showing that light bends as day turns into night to buy safe passage to America for all three. However, as the war intensifies Miri is called to the front lines and Vanya and Yuri go missing. The enthralling plot focuses on the dangers they face - Berenbaum builds multi-layered backstories for each..

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The Book Of Lost Names

GENRE: FICTION

THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES by KRISTEN HARMEL. Eva Abrahams, a semi-retired Jewish librarian in Florida reads a newspaper article about the return of rare looted books to survivors of the Holocaust. She sees a photo of a book which had previously belonged to her while in France in the 1940’s. Eva worked in the Resistance together with handsome document forger Rémy Duchamp. They provided papers for those fleeing the regime and recorded the names of these unaccompanied children by coding each one in an eighteenth century religious text. She finds the strength and courage to return to Berlin to recover this book and help decode the names of those they attempted to keep safe. She also wishes to find out the fate which befell Rémy after he was betrayed.

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Book Of Two Ways

GENRE: FICTION

BOOK OF TWO WAYS by JODI PICOULT. When Dawn Edelstein is on a flight which is about to make a crash landing she is forced to confront her life choices. She is married to Brian and has a beloved daughter and a job as a death doula. However, her thoughts as she prepares for this disaster are not about her family but an archaeologist, Wyatt, she knew 15 years previously when she worked on ancient burial sites in Egypt. Surviving the crash, she needs to decide whether to return to her home and family or try to reconnect with Wyatt as well as to complete her own research on the first known map of the afterlife-The Book of Two Ways.

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Golem Girl

GENRE: BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIRS

GOLEM GIRL by RIVA LEHRER. Born in 1958 with spina bifida condition, Riva Lehrer spent her childhood at the Condon School in Cincinnati with other disabled children. She underwent numerous medical interventions. She believed that she would never have a job, romantic relationship or independent life. This changed in her early adulthood when she was invited to join a group of artists, writers and performers. They saw disability as an opportunity to be creative. Riva began painting portraits of herself, others and the world around her. Golem Girl is written with the prose of a visual artist and includes her gifted art images.

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Happiest Man On Earth

GENRE: HOLOCAUST

HAPPIEST MAN ON EARTH by EDDIE JAKU. Published when Eddie turned 100, this is a powerful memoir of how one can find hope and happiness in the darkest of times. Growing up Eddie considered himself a German first and a Jew second. He studied electrical engineering in Leipzig before being imprisoned in several concentration camps from 1938. He witnessed innumerable horrors in Buchenwald and Auschwitz and lost his family and friends. After the war he moved to Australia where he married and had a son. Being one of the few who were fortunate to survive, Eddie wishes to pay tribute to all who were lost by telling his story and to educate the world and stamp out hatred and intolerance. He believes he is “the happiest man on earth.” The DVD is available to accompany this book.

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The Huntress

GENRE: FICTION

THE HUNTRESS by KATE QUINN. Told in three narratives The Huntress, includes Ian, a British war correspondent who takes on the task of finding war criminals. Intertwined is Nina, a pilot for the Soviet Union who while behind enemy lines had an encounter with the Nazi murderess, The Huntress, who trapped and killed refugees mainly children. Then the story moves to post war Boston to seventeen-year-old Jordan whose widowed father is about to marry Anneliese, a sweet German immigrant. Jordan has an uneasy feeling that her new step mother could be hiding something from her past. In the end the author links all the threads in this intense and enthralling mystery moving between decades and continents..

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Lady Clementine

GENRE: FICTION

LADY CLEMENTINE by MARIE BENEDICT. From this bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room and The Other Einstein a riveting novel on the life of Clementine Churchill. Clementine was influential in advancing the woman’s suffrage movement. She used her energy and influence to counsel the often bombastic Winston in everything from speech writing to military decisions and policies. While raising their four children, she helped Winston emerge after his political disaster during WW1 and stood tirelessly beside him until his triumphant return to parliament after his campaign against the Nazis. The strength of this remarkable woman reverberates as we read of the loving 57-year marriage of these two political dynamos.

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Head Of The Mossad

GENRE: BOOK OF THE MONTH

HEAD OF THE MOSSAD by SHABTAI SHAVIT. This memoir deals with Shavit’s seven years in office from 1989 and provides an inside account of his intelligence philosophy and the operations he directed. It includes anecdotes about his family, colleagues and the time he spent in the United States as a graduate student and at the CIA. His tenure coincided with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the First Intifada, the Oslo Accords and the election and assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He reflects on the role that intelligence can and should play in Israel’s future against Islamist terrorism and Iran’s nuclear threat. An essential book for everyone who cares for Israel’s security and future.

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One Last Lunch

GENRE: BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIRS

ONE LAST LUNCH by ERICA HELLER. Acclaimed memoirist Heller asked family and friends of authors, artists, musicians, comedians and other personalities to imagine one last meal with someone they treasured. This compilation of short pieces includes Kirk Douglas, Nora Ephron, Groucho Marx, Oliver Sacks and Marcella Hazan. They are thought provoking with varied insights into grief, mourning, reconciliation and forgiveness. Erica Heller recognized the universal longing for one last moment with a loved one to ask those unanswered questions or share unvoiced feelings.

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Renia’s Diary

GENRE: HOLOCAUST

RENIA’S DIARY by RENIA SPIEGEL. An extraordinary story which unfolds when Renia began writing in her diary at the age of fourteen while living in Poland. it offers a lens into her teenage life filled with the joys of adolescence and then the encroaching horrors yet to come. Renia was tragically murdered by the Nazis in 1942. Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt provides an introduction that contextualizes Renia’s diary amidst the brutal reality of war. The diary was hidden and kept by her boyfriend Zygmund when she was taken from the ghetto. It includes a commentary by her sister Elizabeth which tells the reader how this diary made its way from a young Polish girls’ room to a safe deposit box in New York where it remained for decades until translated.

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How Yiddish Changed America and How America CHanged Yiddish

GENRE: BOOK OF THE MONTH

HOW YIDDISH CHANGED AMERICA AND HOW AMERICA CHANGED YIDDISH by ILAN STEVENS & JOSH LAMBERT. This book demonstrates that Yiddish is not just a language but a rich cultural identity. It starts with the arrival of the Ashkenazi immigrants to New York City’s Lower East Side and shares how Yiddish influenced Broadway, Hollywood, literature and politics. The book presents a bountiful menu of genres: essays, memoirs, poems, recipes, songs, cartoons and more. Authors in the anthology include familiar names such as Isaac Bashevis Singer, Cynthia Ozark, Michael Chabon, Grace Paley and gems from other lesser known authors. A revelation to those unfamiliar with Yiddish and for experienced Yiddish linguists a treasure.



Latest Books for January 2021

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Under Occupation

GENRE: FICTION

UNDER OCCUPATION by ALLAN FURST. This thriller by espionage author Furst is about crime writer Paul Richard living in occupied France. Paul found himself in a plot more dangerous than he could ever imagine. He sees a man being shot and killed by the Gestapo and just before the man dies he hands Richard a strange drawing. It appears to show a part of a military weapon. Paul began working with the Resistance, using his guise as a journalist, to travel to Germany to contact the Polish prisoners who were trying to smuggle this valuable intelligence to the French resistance. He became embroiled in a plot involving torpedoes and deadly weapons and has to deliver the plan to the Allies before it is too late.

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A Passion For Israel

GENRE: ISRAEL

A PASSION FOR ISRAEL by MARK WERNER. In his memoir, Werner, the son of a Holocaust survivor, shares his experiences as a non-combat volunteer serving Israeli military bases in Israel. The author who is a corporate lawyer in America has participated in the Sar-El volunteer programme for many years. The chapters are named after each base on which he was stationed from 2006 to 2019 and reflect what was happening at that moment in Israel. Werner illustrates what life is like for IDF soldiers. He shares the gratitude felt by the soldiers towards volunteers who come to support Israel and her citizens.

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Color of Love

GENRE: BIOGRAPHY

COLOR OF LOVE by MARRA GAD. In 1970, Marra was adopted by a white Jewish family in Chicago. Her biological mother was unwed, white and Jewish and her biological father was black. The first part of this memoir deals with her childhood amidst her loving family who expelled anyone from their lives who showed signs of racism. Marra grappled with her identity as in black spaces she was not “black enough” and in Jewish spaces she was mistaken for the help. Her great aunt Nettie was not tolerant of her skin colour and ironically it was Marra who stepped in to care for her when she developed Alzheimer’s Disease. The book explores inheritance showing that despite what is stripped away love will return.

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Exile Music

GENRE: FICTION

EXILE MUSIC by JENNIFER STEIL. A captivating story of a family who had to flee Vienna when the Germans occupied the city in 1938. Orly had an idyllic childhood filled with music, her father played in the Philharmonic and her mother was an opera singer. Her family secured visas to leave Austria and settled in Bolivia. This was a culture shock which only Orly embraced. She learnt Spanish and delighted in all the country offered. Steil traces the challenges faced by the family initially and after the war ended. Besides the loss of their past way of life in Vienna, they now need to deal with the sight of former Nazis settling in Bolivia.

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Here and Now

GENRE: FICTION

HERE AND NOW by SANTA MONTEFIORE. A bittersweet contemporary novel about family, the love that holds them together and the power of memory. Marigold and Dennis are in their late sixties enjoying their golden years as their grown daughters have left home. When Suzie and Daisy move back to their parent’s home in the English village of their youth, they find that their mother is different besides being her usual kind-hearted and helpful self. This becomes harder to ignore. Dennis and his daughters now have their roles reversed as they need to support and care for Marigold. Montefiore has written a touching, realistic novel about the onset of dementia in a close knit family.

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How Could She

GENRE: FICTION

HOW COULD SHE by LAUREN MECHLING. Sunny, Rachel and Geraldine met and became friends while working as junior staff at a Toronto weekly newspaper. Thereafter their paths diverged. Sunny made a career as a watercolour artist and married a New York architect. Rachel, a New Yorker, married and struggled to emerge as a young adult novelist. Geraldine was engaged to the owner of the newspaper where the friends met. When this relationship ended Geraldine moved to New York and begin a new career in podcasting. The narrative highlights the envy and affection of their friendship as they navigate careers, suitors and husbands. Mechling is insightful in this witty exploration of the ways we can and cannot escape our pasts.

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Lady Of The Lake

GENRE: FICTION

LADY OF THE LAKE by LAURA LIPPMAN. Madeline Schwartz is a young Jewish housewife who leaves her husband and son to pursue her ambition to be a journalist. Cleo Sherwood was an African –American cocktail waitress whose body was found in a lake many months after she disappeared. The story unfolds as Madeleine becomes obsessed with the truth about Cleo’s life and death. Throughout the narrative we are given Madeline’s point of view as well as that of Cleo’s ghost watching behind the scenes. Lippman wraps up the racism and sexism of 50 years ago in this thriller about a newsroom and the city it covers.

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Mazel Tov

GENRE: BIOGRAPHY

MAZEL TOV by J.S. MARGOT. In 1987, a 20-year-old miniskirt-wearing student responded to a job advertisement from an Orthodox Jewish couple in Antwerp to tutor their four children. Nothing prepared her for the myriad of Jewish customs she would have to adhere to in the Schneider home. Being an atheist from a Catholic background, she knew nothing about this way of life but with time she began to embrace and understand it. J.S. Margot provides an empathetic outsiders perspective of the Orthodox traditional lifestyle. She remained the loyal friend and confidant of the Schneider children when they themselves reached maturity. Her intimate portrait of the family took thirty years to write.

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Moments Of The Heart

GENRE: INSPIRATIONAL READS

MOMENTS OF THE HEART by DORICE HORENSTEIN. Award winning author Horenstein provides a self-empowering road map to lead people towards the more positive aspects of their lives. Just as the heart has four chambers so we experience four different relationships as humans: with ourselves, with others, with our Creator and with unique moments that define us. Horenstein highlights how the heart has a tremendous influence on how we view life, how we act and how we interact with others. She hopes to inspire readers to live a better life through the cultivation of deeper spiritual and ethical awareness.

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Rabbit Girls

GENRE: FICTION

RABBIT GIRLS by ANNA ELLORY. In 1989 after the Berlin wall has fallen, Miriam Winter escapes from her abusive husband to finally care for her dying father, Henryk. When he cries out for someone named Frieda, Miriam searches for clues about her father’s past. She finds an inmate uniform from Ravensbruck among her late mother’s things with letters written by Frieda to Henryk. They are in German and French and once translated they reveal the disturbing truth about the “Rabbit Girls” who were experimented on in the camp. Miriam knew nothing of her parents being in the camps, of the love her father had for Frieda while married to her mother and the sacrifices that were made.

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The Rebbetzin

GENRE: RELIGIOUS INTEREST

THE REBBETZIN by RABBI NACHMAN SELTZER. The inspiring story of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis who accomplished so much and touched so many lives. She descended from a great rabbinic dynasty. Having survived the Holocaust, Rebbetzin Jungreis devoted her life to sharing her passion for Torah and Jewish continuity thereby enriching all whom she met. Throughout her life Esther Jungreis was a surrogate mother to thousands and a gifted teacher. Rabbi Nachman, the renowned author of this biography, interviewed many to write this unforgettable story. He vividly captures the life of one of the twentieth century’s most legendary, charismatic and spiritually inspiring Rebbetzins.

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Reason To Believe

GENRE: RELIGIOUS INTEREST

REASON TO BELIEVE by RABBI CHAIM JACHTER. A compelling book by this internationally known rabbi to anchor and amplify the faith of those who feel secure in their Orthodox beliefs and lifestyle. Rabbi Jachter deals with the gap between Torah and science, contradictions in Biblical text as well as archaeology and the Torah. He does not shirk from troubling theological and moral questions. A recurring theme in the book is timing and Rabbi Jachter uses as his examples the Ten Commandments and the modern state of Israel The book closes with a chapter defending the difficult concepts of human suffering and the destruction of life.

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Stories Of Hope

GENRE: INSPIRATIONAL READS

STORIES OF HOPE by HEATHER MORRIS. An inspirational look at some of Heather Morris’s personal defining life experiences. She received worldwide acclaim for her bestselling books The Tattooist of Auschwitz and its follow up Cilka’s Journey. Heather Morris provides insight into her creative writing odyssey beginning with her great grandfather’s sharing of his war memories to her chance meeting with Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor, Lale Sokolov, who entrusted her with his unique story. Morris is an extraordinary listener with the ability to retell the unique narratives imparted to her. The book examines the beautiful life lessons she learnt from doing just this.

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Yitzhak Rabin

GENRE: ISRAEL

YITZHAK RABIN by ITAMAR RABINOVICH. An informative biography written by this former Israeli ambassador to the United States and Rabin’s chief negotiator to Syria. Rabinovich tracks Rabin’s career from chief of the IDF to both his tenures as the first native-born prime minister. Rabin was a realist believing that no peace could be established without resolving the issue of the West Bank. He was a highly effective defense minister. Equally compelling is Rabinovich’s account of Rabin’s assassination. Rabinovich provides an insider’s perspective on Rabin’s life, influence and the mark he left on Israeli history.