Entertaining America is a captivating look at one of the longest-running and most provocative public discussions in America: the relationship between the nation's Jews and its entertainment media. This colorfully written, lavishly illustrated book surveys how Jews have participated in--and been identified with--American movies, radio, and television from the nickelodeon era at the turn of the twentieth century to the present day.
Throughout, the tone is lively, the design is playful, and key points are visually enhanced by stills, publicity photos, and memorabilia. This anthology of original analyses and primary texts covers a wide range of topics, including the multiple versions of The Jazz Singer, the saga of the Hollywood movie moguls, the irrepressible Goldbergs of radio and television fame, the representation of the Holocaust, how Charlie Chaplin and other non-Jewish stars became "virtual Jews," and the dazzling success of the television series Seinfeld. There is also an illustrated gallery of more than twenty Jewish-American stars from Theda Bara to Adam Sandler.
The principal authors, J. Hoberman and Jeffrey Shandler, examine not only the history of Jews in the industry but also the steady stream of richly varied voices that have had something to say about this history--in fan magazines as well as literary fiction, by religious and political leaders as well as journalists, historians, and Jews in the entertainment business themselves.
Entertaining America, which accompanies an exhibition opening at The Jewish Museum, is itself tremendously entertaining while providing the most expansive, authoritative look at this fascinating subject. In its pages, readers will find ample material to help them formulate their own responses to this frank, contentious, multilayered discussion.
The Jewish Museum, New York
February 21 - September 14, 2003
The Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore
October 16, 2003 - January 18, 2004
"A thought-provoking read."--Grace Glueck, New York Times
"Acculturation, driven irresistibly by the mass media, was inevitable in 20th century America. Entertaining America . . . is very good, and subtle, on this subject. It demonstrates that Jewishness was one of the givens of early movies and broadcasting--not exactly flaunted but not entirely avoided either."--Richard Schickel, Los Angeles Times
"A sumptuous read and a visual treat."--Library Journal
"What emerges from this book is a persuasively intelligent case that the relationship between Jews, the movies, and broadcasting goes well beyond entertaining America. Without simplifying any of these key terms, the authors have produced a work that should speak simultaneously to a general and specialized reader.... Keenly aware of their place within this century long debate, the authors have produced not just the latest but also the best installment yet. . . . [T]hey do a remarkable job of both synthesizing existing scholarship and breaking new ground."--Art Simon, Cineaste
"[A] meticulously researched and gorgeously illustrated volume. . . . It's a brilliantly written, superbly informative work."--Elaine Ives-Cameron, Jewish Chronicle
"Entertaining America brings together in a single volume, as does no other existing work, not only a wide range of questions about the role of Jews in the American entertainment media but valuable new insights and perspectives on both familiar and little-known aspects of its central theme. It is itself entertaining as well as informative. Accessible, well written, always sound and often original in scholarship, it will reach a wide readership beyond those who attend the exhibition, and will certainly be useful in courses that explore the role of Jews in popular culture and entertainment."--Robert Sklar, author of A World History of Film
Published in association with The Jewish Museum, New York