Page 41 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 6 (1947-1948)

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31
BLOCH ---- THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
he displays a knowledge of his fellow Americans and an under-
standing of their overseas problems. I t is the story of a thousand
places and a thousand people, in which among others is included
an account of a walk through bombsmitten London with Jacob
Epstein, a brilliant summation of the bitter story of Palestinian
colonization, and a fine pen portra it of Chaim Weizmann. The
entire volume has the Cohn flavor and characteristic abundance
of w itty and delightful absurdities. Another trip abroad is de-
scribed in
Homecoming
by Joseph Wechsberg (New York, Knopf,
1946), an American citizen who, eight or nine years ago, left his
native Moravska-Ostrava, a little city in Czechoslovakia, and
right after the war, returns to his home town as the first American
soldier to enter it. I t is his account of what he found there. He
was looking for his father and mother and for the parents of his
wife. He was able to locate his Christian in-laws, who naturally
survived the Nazi occupation. The same could not be said of his
Jewish relatives and the synagogue in which he worshipped.
Poignant is the description of his visit to the office of the Jewish
community, now numbering only eighty survivors of the pre-
war number of eight thousand. He finds no bridge leading from
the past to the present and concludes tha t “nothing was left of
the town I had known and I knew tha t I was really going home
now. Home to America.”
Farewell to Salonica\
portrait of an era by Leon Sciaky (New
York, Current Books, A. A. Wyn, 1946) is an autobiographical
work consisting of recollections of a Greek Jew who had a happy
boyhood spent in the colorful atmosphere of Salonica, a city still
under Turkish rule, in the days before the First World War. I t
could have contained more Jewish material.
Biographies of distinguished American Jews do not appear too
often. Had there been a greater supply of such books the role of
the Jews in American life would have been better understood.
An excellent contribution to such literature is
An honorable titan
,
a biographical study of Adolph S. Ochs by Gerald W. Johnson
(New York, Harper, 1946). I t is more than merely a biography of
a man or the story of a world-powerful institution. I t is a study of
the creator and of the making of
The New York Times
, representing
a phase of America’s growth which was unique in place and time.
I t is a dramatic and highly readable story but it is not a colorful
story because, if Mr. Johnson has portrayed him correctly, Mr.
Ochs was not a colorful man in the sense tha t Pulitzer, Bennett,
Dana, Greeley and others were. No office legends cluster about
his memory; the book contains few anecdotes about Mr. Ochs.
Apparently he had no idiosyncracies, which is quite remarkable
for so great a newspaper man. Mr. Ochs was a genius at organiza­