What do Joyce Brothers and Sigmund Freud, Rabbi Harold Kushner and philosopher Martin Buber have in common? They belong to a group of pivotal and highly influential Jewish thinkers who altered the face of modern America in ways few people recognize.
So argues Andrew Heinze, who reveals in rich and unprecedented detail the extent to which Jewish values, often in tense interaction with an established Christian consensus, shaped the country's psychological and spiritual vocabulary.
Jews and the American Soul is the first book to recognize the central role Jews and Jewish values have played in shaping American ideas of the inner life. It overturns the widely shared assumption that modern ideas of human nature derived simply from the nation's Protestant heritage.
Heinze marshals a rich array of evidence to show how individuals ranging from Erich Fromm to Ann Landers changed the way Americans think about mind and soul. The book shows us the many ways that Jewish thinkers influenced everything from the human potential movement and pop psychology to secular spirituality. It also provides fascinating new interpretations of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and Western views of the psyche; the clash among Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish moral sensibilities in America; the origins and evolution of America's psychological and therapeutic culture; the role of Jewish women as American public moralists, and more. A must-read for anyone interested in the contribution of Jews and Jewish culture to modern America.
"[M]asterfully weaves together several strands of American and Jewish intellectual, cultural and social history . . . this important book succeeds brilliantly."--Paul Lerner, Times Literary Supplement
"[A] groundbreaking, wonderfully researched and consistently provocative book. . . . Heinze has a fluid, readable style and supports his larger arguments and history with an abundance of compelling anecdotes and facts. . . . [He] writes splendid social history. This is an important addition not only to Jewish studies, but to American cultural studies as well."--Publishers Weekly (boxed and starred review)
"Indeed, it is difficult to imagine the full history of [the] psychologization of American ideas about the psyche and human nature without considering the vast influence of Jewish writers. . . . This is a sharply argued contribution to American cultural and intellectual history that will deservedly be cited for decades to come."--Robert C. Fuller, American Historical Review
"Heinze's argument is that Christian America doesn't realize how Jewish it is. And while it would have been simple enough to round up the usual suspects . . . Heinze's choices are refreshing."--Joel Yanofsky, National Post
"[This] fascinating and innovative book could not have arrived at a better time. . . . The book deserves a wide readership."--Elaine Margolin, Jerusalem Post
"[O]utstanding . . . . Heinze cogently and elegantly traces the flow of Jewish values, attitudes, and arguments into the mainstream of American thought."--Ilana Mercer, Jewish Chronicle (London)
"This ambitious undertaking raises many very interesting questions about the role of Jewish thinkers in exploring the American mind. Andrew Heinze presents 20th-century Jewish psychiatrists, psychologists, and rabbis who have never been included in discussions of this topic before."--Choice
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