Readers Have Some Thoughts on Recent Reviews and Essays

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To the editor:

In her article on the plethora of Holocaust-themed children’s books (July 11), Marjorie Ingall makes a valid point: There are other stories to be told about being Jewish. The Holocaust, however, is not “the cornerstone of our collective identity,” but a traumatic and demanding collective memory. Holocaust-themed books for children are not about scaring “Jewish children into loving their Judaism” or “blaming non-Jews”, they are about presenting well-told stories to young, impressionable people. intense hatred and prejudice. While Ingall is also right that the Holocaust should not simply be used as a suitable ground to provide gravity, the growing ignorance of the Auschwitz concentration camps makes thoughtful and creative books on this powerful subject more important than ever.

Gary Golio
Briarcliff Mansion, NY

To the editor:

Marjorie Ingall is right in her article; Making the Holocaust a cornerstone of Jewish identity will certainly not be successful. This is especially true as the number of witnesses to this horror is decreasing day by day. The question is, what is it that will enable the younger generations to maintain their bond with our traditions from now on?

Henry Rieser
new York

To the editor:

Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s criticism of Joshua Cohen’s novel “The Netanyahus” (July 11) is shocking for its isolation, especially in light of Israel’s recent attacks on Palestinians. My only consolation is that it may force more Jews to understand where Zionism is taking us. I also hope that this is not an accurate reflection of the novel, although I am almost afraid to see it for myself.

Doug Neiss
Brick, NJ

To the editor:

Hats off to Taffy Brodesser-Akner for the most enjoyable and enlightening review. The review supports my thesis that to understand what happened at any given moment in history, it is necessary to read fiction written at that time. In America, World War II such as “Caine’s Rebellion” and “Catch-22”. Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” does the same for his life before Algeria’s independence.

Brodesser-Akner writes that Joshua Cohen used a keen satirical wit to reveal the underlying fear of the Jewish people that they were always a stranger no matter how successful they were. As with any good book, there are many layers to it, and they are revealed in this review.

Jay Stonehill
Chicago

To the editor:

Seth Mnookin’s review of Sam Apple’s “Ravenous: Otto Warburg, the Nazis, and the Search for the Cancer-Dietary Connection” (July 11) claims that the first Nazi concentration camps were “roughly similar to the camps to which the United States was accustomed” “Forcible resettlement of Japanese Americans during the war” does not honor the poor souls who died prematurely in these camps, and the United States alike. As Timothy W. Ryback details in “Hitler’s First Victims: The Quest for Justice,” Dachau has experienced indescribable brutality and murder from the moment it opened; One night in April 1933, four Jews were killed while apparently trying to escape. Manzanar and Tule Lake never became Dachau, though it is as indelible a stain on this country as the incarceration of Japanese Americans.

David Margolick
new York

The author is a former New York Times reporter and author of Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Biography of a Song.

To the editor:

What an incredible surprise to see Yuval Taylor’s review of Scott Borchert’s (July 4) “Republic of Detours” with a photo of my grandmother Katharine Kellock!

Taylor’s review suggests that the author “may have devoted more space to Kellock.” His work with the Federal Writers Project is part of my family’s history; she was an incredible woman for her time in more ways than one. My cousin Alan Kellock quotes me from his former boss, economic historian Walt Rostow: “Katharine Kellock was the smartest woman I’ve ever known. I feared him to death.” According to Alan, Katy “constantly defied the glass ceiling.” He also reported that he “wrote the first draft of the Marshall Plan” and “as was customary at the time, the men took full credit. [it]”

Kate O’Brien
Orange, Conn.

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