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review 2017-08-06 15:30
A broader history than the title promises
Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of New York (Modern Jewish History) - Stephen Birmingham

This seems like a niche history about nine German-Jewish families (well 8 German Jewish families and 1 Germanic-Swiss Jewish family... the Guggenheims)  in New York City, from 1840 to 1930, but in the telling of it, the book delves into general history of America and Germany in that time period, exploring (because of the families' various businesses) the rise of the large railroad combines and the rise of "finance Capitalism" (i.e. capitalization of the country's industry through large Wall Street brokerage houses and consumer banks)

 

There is also an interesting exploration of Jewry in NYC going back to the period of Dutch rule in "New Amsterdam".  The Spanish Inquisition expelled Jews from Spain in 1492. Most of these were Sephardic, and found refuge in Brazil (a Portugese colony with liberal immigration policies towards anybody who looked like they would develop the land and firmly establish the Portugese claim on it.)  Portugal lost Brazil to Spain in 1668, under the terms of the Treaty of Libson.  With the Inquisition still in force, the Sephardic Jews were expelled, and most of them found refuge in New Amersterdam.

 

As a result, the face of the Jewish community in New York was decidedly Sephardic from the 1600's until the 1840's, when a revolution in Germany resulted in a mass influx of German immigrants to New York. Most of the Jews arriving in this wave were Ashkinazi, and they were not warmly welcomed by the Sephardics.

 

This is a large undercurrent narrative in the book, with Germans having to build parallel synogogues, Hebrew schools, etc, and the cultural characteristics of New York Jewry transforming from the Latin, more insular, Sephardic subculture into the decidedly more open (i.e. assimilationist)  Germanic, Yiddish-speaking, Ashkinazis. 

 

One thing this book is NOT, is a telling of the Jewish experience across the socioeconomic spectrum. The book is dedicated to nine of the wealthiest families in the City, whose names are tied up in the founding, running, and in some cases decline of some of the largest and most successful companies of the 1800's, including: Goldman and Sachs, the Guggenheims (whose metalworking and mining fortunes persist today in holdings of US Steel, Newmont Mining and Barrack Gold), Kuhn & Loeb, Solomon Brothers banking and brokerage, Harriman Brothers, Macy's department stores, and a railroad empire which has since been absorbed into Union Pacific.

 

In this sense, it is a specialty History with a narrow focus, but probably still broad appeal. Who doesn't love hearing about the dramas and infighting of the super-rich? Every chapter is like an episode of "Dynasty" or "Dallas." (Do those references date me? I don't know what the current-day equivalents are.)  Still, as noted above, the telling of it all covers a lot of general history which should be of interest to a wide audience.

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review 2017-06-27 04:01
Surprising
Misconduct - Samantha Kane

This book is #4 in the Birmingham Rebels series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  To avoid spoilers and better understand the series, I recommend reading in order.

 

Carmina is best friends with a popular football player.  He has introduced her to many others in the sport.  She finds herself attracted to two men.  She cannot decide if it is possible to choose just one.  Both Tom & Danny are attractive to her physically and emotionally.

 

Tom & Danny are roommates and teammates.  They never saw themselves fighting over a girl.  When the worst occurs, neither is willing to walk away from their friendship.  Can they figure things out as things heat up?

 

This series is a joy to read and a challenge to sometimes understand. Love is love, however, and it is interesting to see what acting on an attraction can show you are capable of.  These characters compliment each other so beautifully, that it makes the reader sigh with joy.  Fits the series just perfectly also.  I give this book a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review, by both Netgalley and its publisher.

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review 2017-03-27 00:00
Broken Play (Birmingham Rebels)
Broken Play (Birmingham Rebels) - Samantha Kane Football and well other balls makes for a MMF Menage Sports Romance and a great one at that. Kane did an amazing job on the first book in Brimingham Rebels series. I love a good menage but this one is making the list of ones to read again. Like MMF? Like Football? Grab this book today!
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review 2017-03-20 03:30
The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 - Christopher Paul Curtis

The Watsons Go to Birmingham is the story about the Watson family's trip to Birmingham, Alabama during the time of the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout the journey, the family learns a lot about each other, growing up, and racism.

The book received a Lexile score of 1000L, making it suitable for most 4th-6th grade readers. This book is a great book to teach about African-American history and the Civil Rights era. The book is based on true events, and gives an excellent commentary on the views and fears of many African-Americans during that time. 

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review 2017-02-08 22:40
Hot steamy romp.
Jacked Up: Birmingham Rebels - Samantha Kane

This is a hot steamy read. Trying to let go of your good girl persona, Jane has a one-night stand with Sam and King. Awkwardness and doubt surround her when they meet again. Sam has his own doubts and works through them and his PTSD with help from King, Jane, and his therapist. King is a wonderful person, takes everything as it comes, is kind, and loyal. As they found their way together, I had a few tears, a few laughs, and an enjoyable read. This is the third in the series, and other than bumping into characters from the other books, it stands alone.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley, and it is a Book Obsessed Chick Star Review selection. This is my unsolicited review.

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