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  • Strangers in the Land?

The Era of Reconstruction , , by Kenneth M. Gladstone and the Bulgarian Agitation , by R. The not specifically sequential discourse, at times uncomplicated, at others imperious, engages the standards of black-Jewish relations identity, liberalism, civil rights, racism, anti-Semitism but also contributes perceptive and astute examinations of other black and Jewish antagonisms utilizing the vista of literary narratives The result is a descriptively written book that examines the intellectual worthiness of the black-Jewish question while enhancing theimpressive literature on black-Jewish relations in America.


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Sundquist's immense and serious book pays the closest attention ever given to the symbiosis and the alienation of Jews and African Americans in the aftermath of World War II, even as he traces the emergence of major works of Jewish and black literatures in this same period Sundquist's new book reveals not only how much of the literature we will remember from the last half of the twentieth century is literature of America's strangers--blacks and Jews.

He also reveals how the tragic alliance and the estrangement of these groups from each other emerged as late twentieth-century American literature's most haunting obsession This book is a moral argument for the high office, and the great risks, of literature Despite its great richness, it would not be enough to call this book, as its jacket states, encyclopedic. Strangers in the Land is a much braver book than its compendiousness suggests.

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For the cumulative effect of Sundquist's careful search for the most complete explanatory contexts, and of his judicious counterpoising of black and Jewish materials, is that an awful lot of evidence is in. And thus the possibility of, and the obligation to, clear-eyed judgment draws nigh. By the end of the book, and in particular by the last two chapters, Holocaust and Spooks, Sundquist has assembled nuanced criteria for the judgment of what ought to count for constructive, as opposed to obsessional, engagement; what does, and ought to, count for self-searching, as opposed to narcissistic, expression; what does, and what ought to, count for lastingly valuable, as opposed to compellingly, noticeable art.

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