Bad Jews: A History of American Jewish Politics and Identities

We rated this book:


I am not Jewish, but my grandfather was, and ever since I found out about that, I have wondered what my life would have been like if things had been just a little bit different.

That’s part of why I picked up Bad Jews, but it isn’t why I would recommend it. I would recommend it because Jewish people in the United States have been by turns insular and outspoken, or sometimes both at once depending on who was choosing when to speak. I would recommend it because the book sets out to sum up the experience of being Jewish in the United States and does so by saying it can’t be summed up at all.

(That’s not really a spoiler. It becomes increasingly obvious as the book goes on.)

This book serves as an excellent reminder that Jewish people, especially in the United States, are not a monolith. They are a community, rife with disagreements and differing opinions. Whether one is a “bad Jew” seems often to be entirely a matter of (another’s) opinion. As a synthesis of history and sociology, it does an excellent job at explaining what can often seem baffling to outsiders.

Reviewed By:

Author Emily Tamkin
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher HarperCollins
Publish Date 18-Oct-2022
ISBN 9780063074019 Buy this Book
Issue October 2022
Category Historical Fiction