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Tradition!: The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway-to-Hollywood Story of Fiddler on the Roof, the World's Most Beloved Musical
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Tradition!: The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway-to-Hollywood Story of Fiddler on the Roof, the World's Most Beloved Musical

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  69 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Since it first opened on Broadway in September, 1964, Fiddler on the Roof has constantly been onstage somewhere, including four Broadway revivals, four productions on London's West End and thousands of schools, army bases and countries from Argentina to Japan. Barbara Isenberg interviewed the men and women behind the original production, the film and significant revivals-- ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by St. Martin's Press
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Aug 02, 2014 Katherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, reviewed
When I entered this Goodreads giveaway it was motivated by the fact I grew up in Manhattan and going to Broadway shows was as natural for me as going to the movies was to kids growing up in areas far less rich with cultural opportunities. Of course I didn't know then that not every kid had Broadway actors in their classes and that they were a couple of Peter's Lost Boys. Not every kid believed that Peter could fly but I knew he could--he flew right over my head in a darkened theatre. And not eve ...more
Myrna Gottlieb
Dec 19, 2014 Myrna Gottlieb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
"Tradition," the story of “Fiddler on the Roof,” by Barbara Isenberg, is a winner. In an engaging style, Ms Isenberg, an award-winning journalist, guides us through the journey that transformed a group of short stories about a Russian milkman written in Yiddish by Sholem Aleichem, into an award-winning musical on the Broadway stage and later on the silver screen- a musical that is still performed and beloved worldwide.

Through interviews with the artists involved- the creators of the show and man
Sep 03, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to read this book, because Fiddler on the Roof is one of my favorite movies, and I knew very little about any of the story behind its inception, other than the fact that it was based on the stories of a certain Jewish author.

It is quite an interesting story. The book traces the journey from the writers of the original Broadway play, and its subsequent re-writings and paring down, to the movie and beyond. It was quite amusing to get a glimpse (if only a small one) of just how differ
Aug 01, 2014 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received Tradition! as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

While the debate over the greatest musical of all time rages on, Tradition! profiles the creation and groundbreaking success one of the best-known and loved in the genre. Isenberg traces the story of the show's inspiration, the short stories of Sholem Aleichem, to the casting and writing of the musical on Broadway, in London's West End, and around the world, the film adapation, and the show's lasting legacy in revivals and popular culture.

Sep 14, 2015 Arianna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[I got this book for free from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.]

I love Fiddler on the Roof. It is one of my favorite musicals ever. (Not my absolute favorite - that would be Rent. But Fiddler is very close behind.)

I enter a TON of Goodreads giveaways. This was one of the first giveaways I entered that I REALLY wanted to win, and I was super excited when I actually did!

I really enjoyed reading this book, really enjoyed reading about the history of Fiddler. The fortunes and misfortunes that happe
Feb 24, 2015 Kristine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
My childhood would have been incomplete without Fiddler. Half our library visits it seems ended in bringing home the VHS, and it's still unnatural watching the DVD version and not having to change tapes. So it's perfect that I also got this book from the library, which lived up to what I was expecting. It gives a history of the play's formation with lots of interesting tidbits and follows through to the still vibrant following today. It made me all nostalgic and gave me some trivia about the pla ...more
Mar 09, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very pleasant and fun look at the musical. It glosses over some of the problems between Robbins and Mostel, and doesn't give the same depth as Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof by Alisa Solomon (see my review of that at but it's still a lot of fun for those who love reading about Broadway musicals.
Ron Rapoport
Sep 19, 2014 Ron Rapoport rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a wonderfully informative and well-written book about a true show-business phenomenon. The creators thought they were writing a Broadway show, but what they came up with was so much more--a true work of art that has been taken to its heart by people all over the world for 50 years. Isenberg tells this story wonderfully well. No theater lover should miss this book.
Jan 02, 2015 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This history of Fiddler on the Roof concentrates on the show and the movie. Fast moving and filled with interesting anecdotes. Strangely some of the illustrations are printed twice (once in the body of the book and again in the glossy photo section). Would have liked some color illustrations. Most fun: Fiddler as played in Japan.
Kate  K. F.
Jan 31, 2016 Kate K. F. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book after seeing the 2015 revival of Fiddler at the Broadway theater and knew I wanted to know more. The author has brought together wonderful resources to hear the voices of the creators, performers and many others involved in bringing Fiddler to stage and screen. One of my favorite aspects of this book was how the last section was about how far Fiddler reaches including talking with Lin-Manual Miranda who cites it as a major influence on his creation of In the Heights. There are ...more
May 03, 2015 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of the Broadway musical and the film. Includes some great trivia I did not know. Apparently, Zero Mostel was a free spirit and Topol was Israeli and is still touring! It took my theatre company forever to get the rights because of that!
Sep 16, 2014 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barbara Isenberg brings warmth, wit and terrific reporting to the back story of "Fiddler on the Roof." Her lively and engaging book will delight anyone who loves the musical--that is, almost everyone!
Mar 08, 2015 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating behind the scenes look. Didn't know that Zero had such an ego and mindblowing that Frank Sinatra wanted the role of Tevye in the movie.
Marilyn Shapiro
Oct 26, 2014 Marilyn Shapiro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful behind the curtain look at the development, implementation, and phenomenal success of one of Broadway's most popular musical. L'Chaim!
Sep 08, 2014 Portia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw "Fiddler" twice the year it opened. This book brought the memories back. Do rent the DVD and read "Tradition" will not regret it.
Roberta Gerson
Apr 08, 2015 Roberta Gerson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves "Fiddler on the Roof"
Shelves: jewish-theme
I enjoyed this book. I never knew the backstory about how the Broadway show and the movie were developed. Easy read.
May 31, 2016 Mediaman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: broadway, musicals
This is a good overview of the history of Fiddler on Broadway and at the movies. The online book reviewers that say it's "thin" or could be longer are correct, but what's here is a good start combining a variety of sources. The author did interview some of the major players, though some of the interviews are decades old. The only complaint is that this book lacks objectivity--the theatrical show isn't perfect as stated here and the movie is treated like a classic when in truth it was poorly cast ...more
Informative, but lightweight. A good, non-taxing read for a rainy afternoon.

Received via Goodreads.
tony dillard jr
Oct 12, 2015 tony dillard jr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's nothing more Jewish than Fiddler on the Roof! I first saw the movie based on the film in middle school and was in love: not so much with the film but the Jewish culture, itself. As a result, I started frequenting Jewish restaurants, learning about Jewish customs, and I set a personal goal: I was going to marry a Christian Jew! Despite many of my friends and teachers in high school saying it was an impossible dream, on July 24th, 1999, I married my Jewish Princess! Since then, my wife and ...more
Rick Rapp
I have always loved Fiddler on the Roof. I've performed in it three times and directed it twice. As such, I was thrilled to find a book on its creation. After reading it, I have to say I was disappointed. I expected so much more, especially since the book boasts such good sources in its research. Much of the recollections were shallow and very brief. "We all wept." "The cast was in tears." "The production team was crying." Please. Even as a confirmed weeper, I found that description very tedious ...more
Rob Cohen
Fun and interesting, a nice diversion from the more typical heavy fare I have been reading lately.
Jan 23, 2016 Cathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting info, quick read.
Sep 11, 2015 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was sort of interesting. It had interesting details about the development of the musical, although presented very bare - and then more than half the book was about the critical reception, subsequent productions, the movie, etc. I would have been more interested in greater detail about the actual writing and development of the script, characters, and music, of which there was fairly little.
Aug 18, 2016 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a great story of how one of my all time favorite musicals came to be. I love how it goes from the very beginnings of a little story to the phenomenon that it is today. It's always amazing to see just how many lives got touched by this beautifully written play, then movie.
Jan 07, 2015 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barely 3 stars. Historical reference, but interesting information could have been done by In depth magazine article.
Steve Gross
Not very sophisticated writing - pretty much at the earnest high school level.
John Feather
Very entertaining behind the scenes book.
Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Aug 21, 2016
Meghan rated it liked it
Aug 19, 2016
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BARBARA ISENBERG, author of Tradition!, is an award winning journalist who has been writing and lecturing about theater for over three decades. She is the author of Making It Big: The Diary of a Broadway Musical, State of the Arts: California Artists Talk About Their Work and Conversations with Frank Gehry. Her work has appeared in the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Esquire, The Huffingt ...more
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“Rarely offstage, rarely on hiatus, Fiddler on the Roof has already been back on Broadway for four revivals, played London's West End four times, and remains among Broadway's longest-running shows ever.” 0 likes
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