Verses from a life of anguish Review

For the Sake of the Living and the Dead by Gila Landman. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Charing Cross Press, 2016. 53 pages. $12. The poems in this collection are painful to read; I can only imagine the soul-wrenching that accompanied their creation. The anguish that inspired the poetry is palpable, as is the love and longing… Read More

Begin’s right-hand man spills few secrets Review

Right-Hand Man: The Biography of Yehiel Kadishai, Chief of Staff and Confidant of Menachem Begin by Menachem Michelson, translated by Jessica Setbon. Jerusalem: Geffen Publishing, 2016. 324 pages. $26. Menachem Begin is not only one of Israel’s most compelling political figures, he is one of the most fascinating politicians anywhere during the past 75 years…. Read More

Dreams of a horrifying reality Review

In the Land of Armadillos by Helen Maryles Shankman. New York: Scribner, 2016, 282 pages, $25 Only rarely do books have the literary wallop to break through my protective psychic defenses. In the Land of Armadillos is one such work, for the day after reading two of its short stories — “The Partizans” and “The… Read More

Richness of Judaism from a nonbeliever Review

Why Be Jewish? A testament, by Edgar M. Bronfman, Twelve, 2016, 237 pages, $26 For people perplexed because they identify as Jews but don’t believe in God, Edgar M. Bronfman, who died in 2013, has produced a small, modern guide. In Why Be Jewish, Bronfman, former head of Seagram Co., says he does not believe… Read More

Gathering around the seder table Review

The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016. 256 pages. $15.99. Take one young man from a famous and wealthy family who is adept at doing nothing. Partner him with the younger daughter in an obsessively hard-working, upper-middle-class Jewish family. Stir in another daughter who is living with a non-Jewish man… Read More

When partisans saved the West Review

Harry & Arthur: Truman, Vandenberg, and the Partnership That Created the Free World by Lawrence J. Haas. Potomac Books: Herndon, Va., 2016. 286 pp. $29.95. Members of Congress — donkeys and elephants alike — take note: Bipartisan cooperation is possible. That is the central message of this well-conceived and well-written book, which tells the story… Read More

A cosmic dance not just for mystic wannabes

Magical World: Stories, Reflections, Poems by Rabbi Sara Brandes. Mt. Pocono, Pa.: Neshama Press, 2015. 104 pp. $12.95. I must admit that I approached Magical World with more than a few misgivings, especially after I read the book-jacket blurb noting that author Rabbi Sara Brandes was a “student of world religion and a certified yoga… Read More