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Superman is Jewish?
Harry Broad
Free Press, 2012. 240 pp. $25.00

Many of us know that the superheroes at the heart of the American comic book industry were created by Jews. But we'd be surprised to learn how much these beloved characters were shaped by the cultural and religious traditions of their makers. Superman Is Jewish? follows the "people of the book" as they become the people of the comic book. Harry Brod reveals the links between Jews and superheroes in a penetrating investigation of iconic comic book figures. 

Brod situates superheroes within the course of Jewish- American history: they are aliens in a foreign land, like Superman; figures plagued by guilt for not having saved their families, like Spider-Man; outsiders persecuted for being different, like the X-Men; nice, smart people afraid that nobody will like them when they're angry, like the Hulk. Brod blends humor with sharp observation as he considers the overt and discreet Jewish characteristics of these well-known figures and explores how their creators-including Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby- integrated their Jewish identities and their creativity. 

Superman Is Jewish? explores the deeper story of how an immigrant group can use popular entertainment media to influence the larger culture and in the process see itself in new, more empowering ways. Not just for Jewish readers or comic book fans, Superman Is Jewish? is a story of America, and is as poignant as it is fascinating.

Jews in America: From New Amsterdam to the Yiddish Stage

Stephen D. Corrsin, Amanda Seigel, and Kenneth Benson

NYPL/D Giles Limited, 2012. 160 pp. $45.00

This book tells the story of the Jewish presence in America, from the earliest expeditions to the New World and the arrival in 1654 of the first group of Jews in the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam (New York). The volume draws from The New York Public Library's remarkable holdings of American Judaica and other key collections. The stories are brought to life with over 100 items, including the gorgeous Polyglot Psalter published in Genoa in 1516, a color postcard of the Hebrew Confederate Soldiers Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, and Columbus's famous letter to Santangel (Barcelona, 1493) in its only known surviving complete copy. From Spain during the Inquisition to Brazilian sugar Plantations, from Amsterdam's Portuguese synagogue to the fabled Yiddish theaters of New York's Lower East side, Jews in America ranges widely, both historically and geographically, offering a feast abounding in incident and character. 

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