Jewish Radicals

A Documentary History

360 pages

July, 2012

ISBN: 9780814757444



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Tony Michels is George L. Mosse Associate Professor of American Jewish History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York (2005).

All books by Tony Michels

Winner of the 2013 New York Book Show Award in Scholarly/Professional Cover Design
Jewish Radicals explores the intertwined histories of Jews and the American Left through a rich variety of primary documents. Written in English and Yiddish, these documents reflect the entire spectrum of radical opinion, from anarchism to social democracy, Communism to socialist-Zionism. Rank-and-file activists, organizational leaders,  intellectuals, and commentators, from within the Jewish community and beyond, all have their say. Their stories crisscross the Atlantic, spanning from the United States to Europe and British-ruled Palestine.
The documents illuminate in fascinating detail the efforts of large numbers of Jews to refashion themselves as they confronted major problems of the twentieth century: poverty, anti-semitism, the meaning of American national identity, war, and totalitarianism. In this comprehensive sourcebook, the story of Jewish radicals over seven decades is told for the first time in their own words.


  • "[Michels] has made an important contribution to our understanding of [a] significant aspect of American Jewish history."

    Buffalo Jewish Review

  • "Recommended for upper-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty."


  • "Whether devoured in big chunks, or savored in small bites, Jewish Radicals is a fun and fortifying read."

    Jewish Currents

  • “This book will stimulate the mind and gladden the heart of anyone who cares about the history of American Jews or the American left and the always close, if eternally tempestuous relationship between them. Tony Michels has assembled a feast of documents and is an expert guide to their meaning and context.”

    —Michael Kazin, author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation

  • "From America's leading historian of Yiddish-speaking radicalism comes this rich anthology of contemporary Jewish-American voices from the 1880s through the 1940s. Among the diverse experiences and points of view reflected here, Michels convincingly identifies three dominant threadssocialist awakening as a rite-of-passage, the agony and ecstasy of political struggle, and Yiddish-based education as a labor-centered project with an uncertain agenda for national emancipation."

    —Leon Fink, editor of Labor Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas

  • "He has made an important contribution to out understanding of one significant aspect of American Jewish history"

    The Jewish Chronicles

  • "Michels has assembled a fine collection of primary sources, one that successfully illuminates the experiences of Jewish radicals and uncovers many unknown and remote voices. This book will appeal to both lay readers and a scholarly audience."

    —Evan C. Rothera , Yearbook of German-American Studies