Category Archives: Judaica

Books and movies of interest to the Jewish community

“Thinking Without a Banister: Essays in Understanding, 1953-1975” by Hannah Arendt and edited by Jerome Kohn— Searching for Meaning

Arendt, Hannah. “Thinking Without a Banister: Essays in Understanding, 1953-1975”, edited by Jerome Kohn, Schocken Books, 2018.

Searching for Meaning

Amos Lassen

I often have a difficult time explaining to others my obsession with Hannah Arendt and there are still many, many Jews who fault her because of her writings about Eichmann. We do not have many thinkers like Arendt and love her or hate her, I doubt that anyone can deny that she was one of the greatest minds to write and philosophize. I remember attending one of her lectures and feeling like I was witnessing greatness.

“Thinking Without a Banister” refers to Arendt’s description of her experience of thinking and she thought without any of the traditional religious, moral, political, or philosophic pillars of support. Arendt was her own support. The book includes topics on many subjects and from many varied writings: the essays, lectures, reviews, interviews, speeches, and editorials. All of these taken together, exhibit the relentless activity of her mind as well as her character. In these writings, we see the person Arendt was and who has hardly yet been appreciated or understood. 

Hannah Arendt was born in Germany in 1906 and lived in America from 1941 until her death in 1975. Her life and her thought spanned much of the twentieth century. She did not think of herself as a philosopher even though she studied and maintained close relationships with two great philosophers—Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger throughout their lives. She was a thinker who sought the meaning of appearances and events. She was a questioner rather than an answerer, and she wrote what she thought, hoping to encourage others to think for themselves. She was courageous and she found courage woven in each and every strand of human freedom.

“In 1951 she published The Origins of Totalitarianism, in 1958 The Human Condition, in 1961 Between Past and Future, in 1963 On Revolution and Eichmann in Jerusalem, in 1968 Men in Dark Times, in 1970 On Violence, in 1972 Crises of the Republic, and in 1978, posthumously, The Life of the Mind. Starting at the turn of the twenty-first century, Schocken Books has published a series of collections of Arendt’s unpublished and uncollected writings, of which Thinking Without a Banister is the fifth volume.” 

“ITZHAK”— The Life, Work and Religious Heritage of Violinist Itzhak Perlman

“Itzhak”

The Life, Work and Religious Heritage of Violinist Itzhak Perlman

Amos Lassen

Alison Chernick’s new documentary, “Itzhak” ha sboth god music and good company and it should since it is a personality sketch of the world-famous violinist, Itzhak Perlman. Chernick captures the Manhattan-dwelling subject at home and on tour around the globe, hobnobbing with classical colleagues as well as the likes of close friend Alan Alda  and former President of the United States, Barak Obama. 

Perlman was born in 1945 in Tel Aviv to Polish émigré parents who were non-musical, though they quickly supported their prodigy son’s talent. Others did not because they thought he couldn’t get far on the leg braces that polio forced on him when he was just four years old. At thirteen, he was both enrolled at Juilliard and making his first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.

We see just glimpses of his meteoric subsequent rise in archival performance and interview clips and that is deliberate. Chernick’s main focus is on the subject’s everyday life and this includes such activities as eating Chinese takeout with other living classical-musicians and legends, accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, jetting to Jerusalem for a prize, backing up Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden or playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” to open a Mets game. There are also less grand moments when we see Pearlman rehearsing with an orchestra or in the recording studio, teaching music students (at Juilliard and the Perlman Program summer camp and negotiating wintertime NYC sidewalks in his wheelchair-scooter.

Perlman is quite a personality who seems comfortable in almost any setting. Yet here he often appears to take a conversational back seat around wife Toby (also a violinist who says she is “not a particularly exciting one” by comparison to her husband), a perfect soul mate in seemingly every respect. Their busy, curious, affectionately meddling dynamic sets the general tone here and we see the film as if we have been invited to spend the weekend with a family of acquaintances who just happen to include one international celebrity and celebrity freinds. The film is just that intimate. We see how important Jewish identity, culture and ritual is in the Perlman’s lives, and we see their lifestyle  as casual . There’s also time to look at the fascinations of the violin as a physical instrument whether we visit a dealer in Tel Aviv or see Perlman’s favored Stradivarius looked over by a repairer before a tour.

The music of Bach, Vivaldi, Schubert, Strauss, et al., weave through the film more incidentally than focused since this is the kind of documentary where Pearlman might reasonably enough be last seen playing with nontraditional klezmer band the Klezmatics.

Alison Chernick’s documentary is a fond portrait of the violinist Itzhak Perlman. We see him as he makes “garbage-pail soup” for Alan Alda and collaborates with other musicians. Most important, he plays, filling the film with the yearning strains of his instrument. Ample archival material shows a child sensation playing on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in 1958 and a young man performing in Israel in 1974.   Chernick gives time to Perlman’s discussions of the violin. He beautifully says that to elicit a sound from a piano is automatic but from a violin, he says, “when you finally get the sound, you are really getting something out of yourself.” To coax emotional shadings from a violin, “the more you have in your heart, the more you have to give,” he explains.

The film follows him unobtrusively through observing the Sabbath with family, rehearsing a trio or maneuvering his scooter through snow. His wife is with him and she is a sunny, empathetic presence.

Aside from frank views of his crutches and leg braces and a mention of early rejections because of his handicap, the film glides lightly and uncritically along the surface of a life. We get a brief look into his family’s past and emigration from Israel; the filmmaker never goes deeply enough to reveal any other substantial dimension of this man or theories about what shaped him. That does not mean that hat we see is superficial, it is the kind of film it is meant to be. This is a character-study documentary that captures Itzhak Perlman’s warmth and bravado through short, anecdote-centric scenes and we see him as something of a big-hearted raconteur who wants to tell everything about himself.

Chernick suggests that this is something in Perlman’s bubbly and open personality and not some singular biographical event, like the musician’s childhood struggles with polio that has caused his rise “to becoming the rock star of the classical music world.” She lets him talk and she uses pre-existing video and audio footage of Perlman performing to illustrate his abstract, even rambling theories about how he has grown as an artist by answering his Juilliard School students’ questions, or of what one admirer truly means when he compliments Perlman for “praying with the violin.”

Watching the film is like looking at a revealing scrapbook of Perlman’s favorite stories. We see him on “The Ed Sullivan Show in 1958” interpreting the Allegretto Non Troppo from Mendelsohhn’s joyful 64th opus (My parents never forgot that and it was often used as a goal that my sisters and I should aspire to which was really interesting since we played no musical instruments). We see him today as he replies to questions from his students after they listen to a recording of Perlman playing Johannes Brahms’s triumphal seventeenth piece in his Hungarian Dances cycle and we see Perlman at home, drinking red wine and kibitzing with Alan Alda about the ineffable nature of creative genius, just moments before we see a clip of a younger Perlman joyfully shredding Johann Sebastian Bach’s raucous second violin partita solo for a packed Israeli concert hall in 1974 (I was there that night and I will never forget it). I also will not forget this wonderful look at Perlman.

“Itche and Ari” by Dov Zeller— Making a Choice

Zeller, Dov. “Itche & Ari”, Tiny Golem, 2016.

Making a Choice

Amos Lassen

Ari Wexler is a trans guy in his late twenties who barely making it financially. Music has always been his pleasure as well as his meal ticket but these days his band practically has to pay to play a gig. As if that is not enough, Ari works at a clerk a music library but now that his beloved boss and friend has left, it has become unbearable. Then there is his love (or perhaps better said, his lack of love life) has caused him to considering just doing away with romance. He does however have a best friend, , Itche Mattes and the two of them have always managed to survive rough periods in the past. Now Together they’ve gotten through hard times before. Ari has begun to think that perhaps their friendship could just be a sign that they were meant to live together “happily ever after.” That thought evaporated soon enough when a famous actress comes to town and swept Itche off his feet and causing their relationship to cool off and Ari to despair. Then when an interesting music project becomes available to him, Ari has to decide if he should take the risk and leave what he knows and perhaps find what he is looking for.

I detected shades of Jane Austen here (yes men read Austen too) and the reader finds himself guessing how this will turn out. There is a good deal here about friendship and love and the definitions of those terms. There is also great dialogue and a lot of humor.

Itche and Ari are New Yorkers who first met at Jewish summer camp when they were young. They have been best friends a each seems to understand the other in ways that no one else can. Ari is isn’t completely accepted by his family, a fate that many transgender people have to deal with and Itche has dreams of wooing a Jewish Hollywood actress who accepts her Judaism and has ties to the Jewish community. Writer Dov Zeller also includes a good deal about the Jewish community (so you see I am not the only person who includes Judaism into whatever I write).

We read about love in its many faces and aspects and as we do, we realize that we are getting close to the characters and having a very fun read. Zeller has created an unforgettable character in Ari and for me, at least, it was very special as I have a transgender nephew and have heard similar stories although not related as eloquently as here. I also love how LGBT sexuality, friendship and romance take center stage. As most of you know, I read a lot but I must say that it has been a while since I have read anything as fresh as this. I did not want it to end but there is good news in that Zeller has two new books coming out soon.

Like Austen, Zeller looks at the human condition as it operates with a wave to Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig and to Jewish history. There is something very Jewish here and Jewish readers will realize it immediately. That doesn’t mean that non-Jewish readers will not enjoy the read; they just might miss some on the cheekiness for lack of a batter word). There is even Jewishness in the sexuality here. Like I said the wit and humor or great, the prose is excellent and even the surprise footnotes are fun. I just wonder why I have not heard of Dov Zeller before (especially since we both live in Massachusetts).

“Memento Park: A Novel by Mark Sarvas— His Father’s Son

Sarvas, Mark. “Memento Park: A Novel”, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018).

His Father’s Son

Amos Lassen

Matt Santos learns more about his father than he ever could have imagined when a mysterious piece of art is unexpectedly restored to him. When he received a call from the Australian consulate, Matt learned about a painting that was believed to have been taken from his family in Hungary during the Second World War. To recover the painting, he has to repair his strained relationship with his harshly judgmental father, uncover his family history, and restore his connection to his own Judaism. None of these are easy to do. Along the way to illuminating the mysteries of his past, Matt is torn between his doting girlfriend, Tracy, and his alluring attorney, Rachel, with whom he travels to Budapest to find the truth about the painting and about his family.

Matt’s revelations include consuming and imaginative meditations on the painting and the painter at the center of his personal drama. The painting is by Ervin Kálmán and is entitled “Budapest Street Scene”. As the film moves forward, Matt’s narrative becomes as much about family history and father-son dynamics as it is about the nature of art itself, and the many ways we come to understand ourselves through it.

Any book that looks at the nature of identity is filled with questions but here we get the added topics on the natures of art and history. Yet the most important question is how we move forward when we cannot escape the past. While this is a novel and a mystery with lots of suspense we also have subplots of farther and son, identity and the horrific happenings in the past. Regarding art, we see interpretation and reinterpretation and understand that this is the beauty of art in any of its forms.

We become acutely aware of the ties that keep us together and what forces us apart. I am not sure that many of us want to agree to be the next generation because of the responsibility that that goes with this. Can we carry the horrors of the past forward or do we leave them behind as just a memory. It we choose the second alternative, there is the chance that what is left as lore becomes lost as yore. Is history a natural legacy or does each generation have to discover it anew? Is there a need to face the lies of the past or do we see them just as horrors. Historical memory often becomes clouded and history can become a crime itself.

Here the attempts to reclaim a painting seized by the Nazis becomes a moving story about a father’s desire to bury his past and a son’s desire to claim it. As the two , we see that identity is both inheritance and invention and these are equal. Can we own the past the same way someone can own a painting? Ownership can often become delusional and profound.

Personally, I love a book that makes me deal with questions like these and I love the idea of finishing a book with more questions that I had when I began it. After all, one of the aims of literature is to make the reader think and that happens here over and over.

 

“Rosenberg English Holocaust Haggadah For Passover: Holocaust Poems and Essays to Supplement the Seder” by Rabbi Dr. Bernard Rosenberg— Never Forget

Rosenberg, Rabbi Dr. Bernhard . “Rosenberg English Holocaust Haggadah For Passover: Holocaust Poems and Essays to Supplement the Seder”, CreateSpace, 2017.

Never Forget

Amos Lassen

“Rosenberg English Holocaust Haggadah for Passover” is a wonderful publication that gives us an easy to follow format completely in English for the Passover Seder night. It is a tribute to Holocaust survivors and is a unique compilation of stories, essays, articles and poems from those survivors and their children and grandchildren. The haggadah includes a variety of suggested questions and discussions to share with family at the Seder table. The book was created by Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg, editor of “The Echoes of The Holocaust”.

People from all over the world have provided poems, articles and essays for the purpose of preserving the Holocaust for future generations and explaining what it means to be a Jew, to study Torah, to preserve the holidays and to retell the story of the Exodus yearly at Passover as a way of keeping alive the memory of those murdered in the Holocaust and of those who survived with their lives and whose family history forever changed. The Jewish people have continued to survive despite hatred and destruction through the ages.

Rabbi Dr. Ben Rosenberg has made an important contribution to memorialize the six million martyrs in his Holocaust Haggadah. Passover has now become the Diaspora’s most important Jewish family gathering and Rabbi Rosenberg has brought the commemoration of the loss of European Jewry to that celebration. His great feat may, indeed, revitalize and prolong the memories of both events.

It is impressive how carefully Rabbi Rosenberg preserves the integrity of the traditional Haggadah and still manages to skillfully weave in personal experiences and noteworthy tragic events of the Holocaust. The Rosenberg Haggadah should be read at each Passover Seder in every Jewish home.

“The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times” by James L. Kugel— Changing Encounters with Goc

Kugel, James L. “The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times”, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  2017.

Changing Encounters with God

Amos Lassen

Have you ever wondered why in the Bible humans actually meet the divine and have no choice as to do so or not. Obviously there stories had a very different purpose at the time they were written than they do now. The have a very different idea of what reality is and of the human mind. Looking back at the era of the Bible and the thousand years that it covered, encounters with God changed and did so dramatically. Writer and scholar James L. Kugel argues that this transition allows us to get a look at a massive shift in human experience that, in effect, became the emergence of the modern, Western sense of self.

Kugel’s accessible book includes detailed scholarly notes (pages 347-412), a bibliography of works cited (pages 413-441), a subject index (pages 443-467), and a very useful index of verses cited (pages 469-476). In the text of his book, Kugel does assume that the reader will be familiar with the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible.

Kugel is an Orthodox Jew who believes the Bible must be accepted as absolute but he is also a literary and Biblical scholar who persists in the enterprise of digging out how messages in the Hebrew Bible thatebrew Bobl were conceived and written down and how perceptions of God, our relationship to him, etc., etc., have changed over time. As a scholar, he is acutely aware that the Bible wasn’t handed down unedited and inspired by God but that it was written by men over long periods of time, with consequent modifications, second thoughts, and reversals of judgment or commandment.

The book looks at how over decades and centuries, the unknown authors of the books of the Old Testament modified their take on the critical questions of how God communicates with us, if we perceive reality differently than we did early on, and what are we then as psychological/social entities, and related religious matters of importance, such as: Where is God located? When did God become the one and only God, and why? What do angels do and why? Why the emphasis on the written and rules later in Biblical writing? What happened to all the prophets from earlier times? Why don’t we have prophets now?)? (Or do we?) When and why did the concept of the soul appear in the Hebrew Bible? When and why did praying become important, as opposed to priests praying for us in the temple?

Kugel is well prepared to look at these questions, and others like them. He is an exceptionally astute reader of texts and findings in the fields of anthropology, paleontology, archaeology, linguistics and neuroscience. In the foreword, Kugel warns his audience that “this book is not for everyone.” He anticipates that his analysis, in its use of modern scholarship, will go against core religious teachings. At the same time, he recognizes that some modern scholars are inclined to throw out religious conviction and the Bible’s authenticity entirely. In response, Kugel suggests that his “program is to avoid either approach.”

“The Great Shift” is divided into four sections. The first introduces several ways that the Bible depicts encounters with God through a close reading of several biblical and apocryphal narratives, including the rise of several judges, the story of Joseph and his brothers, and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. The third section surveys transformations in the Bible’s record of divine encounters.

In his conclusion, Kugel reminds the reader that “transformations on one side of the human encounter with God has often been accompanied by a parallel one on the other side,” changing the way individuals create a sense of self and how they place themselves in regard to others. By closing with this, he brings the conversation on divine encounters full circle, showing a deep appreciation of how humanity’s struggle to meet God has had an equally lasting impact on how we understand ourselves.

“DEAR FREDDY”— A Heroic Gay Jewish Sportsman Who Ended Up in Auschwitz

“DEAR FREDDY”

A Heroic Gay Jewish Sportsman Who Ended Up in Auschwitz

Amos Lassen

Rubi Gat’s powerful documentary, “Dear Freddy” tells the life of Freddy Hirsch who was born in Germany but lived in Prague before World War II as an openly gay male.

We can understand how rare that was. He was a sportsman who promoted sport and remained active even when the Nazis tried to exclude Jews from any sporting facilities. He was also a spokesperson who fearlessly negotiated with the SS at Theresienstadt ghetto, when he was moved to Auschwitz and where he set up a day-care centre for 600 children. Through rare photographs, archive footage and witness testimony, we get an extraordinary story and a celebration of a heroic figure that died fighting for the betterment of others.

“The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found” by Bart van Es— Finding Refuge, A True Story

van Es, Bart. “The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found”, Penguin, 2018.

Finding Refuge, A True Story

Amos Lassen

Bart van Es’ “The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found” is the extraordinary true story of a young Jewish girl in Holland under Nazi occupation who finds refuge in the homes of an underground network of foster families, one of them the author’s grandparents

Many years ago, Bart van Es moved from Holland to England and moving with him was the story from his Dutch childhood of a young Jewish girl named Lientje had been taken in during the war by relatives and hidden from the Nazis having been handed over by her parents who understood the danger they faced as a Jewish family. Lientje had been raised by her foster family as one of their own, but then, after the war, there was a falling out, and they were no longer in touch. Van Es wondered what really happened during the war, and after to cause this to happen.

He began to investigate and as he did, he understood that was going to consume his life and change it as well. After some checking, he learned that Lientje was now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam. She reluctantly agreed to meet him and out of that meeting emerge something more than a friendship and van Es now shares that with us in “The Cut Out Girl” which is a powerful recreation of Lientje’s harrowing childhood story of Lientje’s as well as a present-day account of Bart’s efforts to piece that story together that also meant bringing some old ghosts back.

Like life itself, this is a story filled with contradictions. We see the bravery of Lientje’s parents, giving up their beloved daughter and of the Dutch families who faced great danger from the Nazi occupation for taking in Jewish children in. We read of the sacrifices that a family under brutal occupation had to provide for even the family they already have. Holland, herself, had to face the darker truth, of its cooperation in rounding up its Jews for the Nazis. Lientje’s time in hiding was made much more terrifying by the energetic efforts of the local Dutch authorities who were rabid accomplices in the mission of sending every Jew, man, woman and child to their extermination. Van Es learned that Lientje was not always particularly well treated, and sometimes, she was very badly treated indeed.

This is the powerful story of a young girl’s struggle for survival during war as well as a story about the powerful love of foster families, the powerful challenges, and the ways our most painful experiences define us. This is also a look at redefining and a story about van Es’ family. Van Es had always known that his grandparents sheltered Jewish children during World War II in the Netherlands, but he had never looked into what actually happened.  Then in November 2014 when his eldest uncle died, he knew that if he did not pursue this, it would be lost forever. Thanks to his mother’s maintaining of an old connection, he was able to meet Lien, who was by that time over eighty and living in Amsterdam. The had never met before because of an argument in the 1980s that cut her off from the family. When they finally meet it was in December 2014 and it was that meeting that changed van Es’ life forever. He now had to re-examine his grandparents and his understanding of his own children changed in the process especially that relationship with Josie, his adopted daughter who he compared to Lien.

I do not want to give anymore of the story away but I must say that this is a book that appeals to the emotions and it is difficult to read with dry eyes. It is a beautifully written look at the consequences of war for both the rescued and the rescuer and it is also the story of love, survival and human decency.

“THE LAST GOLDFISH”— An Autobiographical Documentary

“THE LAST GOLDFISH”

An Autobiographical Documentary

Amos Lassen

Director Su Goldfish as an adult discovered that she had siblings she’d never met. Her film spans the globe from Australia to Trinidad and to Germany and is an astounding revelation not only of one woman’s discovery of her family history before and after Nazism but also the story of her reconnection to her Jewish heritage. Goldfish faces universal questions such as whether it is possible to separate oneself from one’s past and what it means to try.

Goldfish was born in Trinidad and still wonders how her European parents ended up on this tropical island. They had no family in Trinidad. When Manfred, her father, refused to talk about his past she became determined to learn about the past. She learned that her father is a German Jew who fled the horrors of Kristallnacht to the only place that would let him in without a visa, but what about the rest of the family? The story is told through a personal archive of photos and home movies. We see the inter-generational impact of loss and displacement on refugees and their families and we are reminded that similar traumas are happening once again in the current wave of refugees.

 

“The Last Goldfish” is an adventure that takes us on a journey through memory and amnesia that reveals the complexity of ordinary lives and the “deep need we have to know who we are and where we come from”. Seeing this film makes us understand that the results of displacement are deep wounds and it takes a great deal of work to put the pieces back together.

Su didn’t realize she was white when she was a child growing up in Trinidad. As an adult, she found a new family in Sydney’s LGBT community, learns she is Jewish and that she has half-siblings on the other side of the world. Her search for her lost family echoes through all those touched by forced migration.

“Hasidism: A New History” by David Baile, David Assaf and Benjamin Brown, et al.— A Comprehensive History

Biale, David, David Assaf, Benjamin Brown, Uriel Gellmab, Samuel Heilman, Moshe Rosman, Gadi Sagiv, Marcin Wodainski. “Hasidism: A New History”, with an afterword by Arthur Green, Princeton University Press, 2017.

A Comprehensive History

Amos Lassen

I have always been fascinated by and curious about Hasidim. Being from New Orleans, I did not have much access to Hasidic Jews since back then there were none so I what I knew about them, I learned at weekly religious school and it was not until after I graduated from college and moved to Israel that I was able to know a Hasid on a one-to-one basis. Of course, I could not ask questions and so I began to read. Now, with the publication of “Hasidism: A New History”, I have everything I ever wanted to know.

Hasidism is a pietistic movement that shaped modern Judaism and here we get a combination of intellectual, religious, and social history as well as perspectives on the movement’s leaders as well as its followers. We see that Hasidism is a product of modernity that forged its identity as a radical alternative to the secular world.

Hasidism originated in southeastern Poland, in mystical circles that were centered on the figure of Israel Ba’al Shem Tov, but it was only after his death in 1760 that it began to spread as a movement. Some have stated that Hasidism stop being a creative movement after the eighteenth century but we see here that the golden age of the movement was in the nineteenth century, when it conquered new territory, gained a mass following, and became a mainstay of Jewish Orthodoxy. Eastern European Hasidism was severely hurt by World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the Holocaust. Then following World War II, the movement entered a second golden age and really grew. Today, it is once again experiencing a renaissance in Israel, the United States, and other countries around the world. In this book we get the work of an international team of scholars with information for anyone seeking to understand the movement. This is a very readable comprehensive history that kept me mesmerized as I read.

We get a new understanding of many of the myths about Hasidism as well as new insights that place the movement at the center of European Jewish history and as a movement that shaped history and not just a marginal group of Jews. The collective wisdom we get here from eight of the modern sages of Judaism give us a complete portrait of Hasidism.

Because of their unique dress, Hasidic Jews are highly visible. They are also the fastest growing of all the world’s Jewish subcultures. Along with that they are also among the least understood and enigmatic of Jewish communities. We learn what brought the movement into being and how it survived. I decided that instead of reading it at first from cover to cover, I looked for the answers to the many questions that I had and they were all answered here.

This is the first real comprehensive history of Hasidism that spans the entire movement from its beginnings to the present. There are more than 800 pages and not one is wasted. What is interested is that the work is truly collaborative.

This will be a ready resource and primer for the next generation of pious and doubtful inquirers into the history of Hasidism, especially for outsiders. It is written with inclusivity and invites us to understand. I can imagine that the religious insider might find this to be too broad and too historical but then they are supposed to know all of this anyway. The purpose of the book or so it seems to me is to give a thorough and even-handed history of the movement.