Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical

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9780674011656: Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical
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Jews and the Broadway Musical

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Review:

For lovers of musical comedy as well as those interested in Jewish contributions to the cultural life of America, this well-researched effort is an invaluable read. Publishers Weekly 20031020 One of the major strengths of the book is that Most is an excellent social historian. Between her analyses of musicals, she deftly and economically chronicles an American living and changing from the Roaring Twenties to the Depression, World War II, and social upheavals of the post-war years. -- Tom Tugend Jerusalem Post 20040711 Andrea Most, in her perceptive new book Making Americans, answers the question of how Jewish immigrants and their sons created the iconic myths of an America they never intimately knew...Most examines the images and songs in such classics as Oklahoma!, Annie Get Your Gun, Babes in Arms and South Pacific to show how Jewish immigrants imagined America on the musical stage. Demonstrating how musicals shaped and were shaped by the shifting status of immigrants assimilating into a new culture, Most makes a case that the American musical was really a means by which the authors attempted to forge a new, accepting community...This book enlarges the perspective of anyone interested in the history of the American musical. -- Wendy Wasserstein American Theatre 20040701 Most makes original and coherent arguments...She's a shrewd and thoughtful writer with a cultural reach that easily bridges the distance from George Eliot's Daniel Deronda to Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Her not-to-be-missed footnotes are more engaging than the main texts of many academic writers on popular culture. She carefully braids together two interdependent events, the absorption of Jews into America and the rise of the musical as a celebration of democracy. Jews, while defining themselves in the new world, helped America define itself as an egalitarian democracy--precisely the kind of place Jews wanted to live. -- Robert Fulford National Post 20040803 Andrea Most has produced a fascinating book which uncovers how Jewish artists established a new sense of what it means to be Jewish in America...Making Americans looks at the period 1925 to 1951, concentrating on the stories of Jewish acculturation and the development of the American musical. Jewish Telegraph 20041015 As Andrea Most, points out in her lively history of the Jewish contribution to musicals, Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein drew on the themes of Jewish exile to depict the evolution of American culture in Oklahoma! According to Most, the message they conveyed was: 'Cowboys must settle down and become farmers; the frontier must be 'tamed' into a useful agricultural resource; young people must marry and bring up new Americans.' Together with others like Irving Berlin and George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein transformed the American musical from dancing chorus lines to something resembling European opera. -- Alan Wolfe Chronicle of Higher Education 20050603

About the Author:

Andrea Most is Associate Professor of English at the University of Toronto.

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