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Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist: An American Story

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  117 ratings  ·  18 reviews
When Yossi Klein Halevi was a boy, his father told him stories - not fairy tales, but stories of his own harsh past, of living in a tiny hole in the ground to hide from the Nazis, of the nightmarish experience of the Jewish people. He grew up, his father's stories grew within him, and Halevi found himself identifying more and more with the persecution and suffering of his ...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by Little Brown and Company
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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K
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My five star rating is entirely subjective. I don't know how others might feel about this book, or whether it would speak to them the way it spoke to me. I found it highly compelling, but I'm sure that has at least as much to do with my own background and interests as with the book's objective power.

I very much enjoyed Like Dreamers: The Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, and the Divided Israel They Created and was eager to read this, the author's far more personal book
...more
Rachelle Urist
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Yossi Klein Halevi wrote Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist at age 43. It is less a memoir than a reflection on his youth, on the place of the holocaust on the second generation, and on Jewish extremism in America in the 60s. His background, as the child of a holocaust survivor, shapes the trajectory of his compelling story. He begins the book with: “My father lived in a hole.” Then he explains: “When the Nazis invaded Transylvania and the Jews of my father’s town, Nagy-Karoly, were sent to the cattl ...more
Allen Roth
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
In many ways, the author's childhood had many similarities to my own. Jewish boys growing up in Brooklyn, New York at about the same time. But while the Holocaust looms over everything Halevi experienced it played a much smaller role in my life. Both my parents had been in America long before World War II. Whereas, Halevi's father survived the Holocaust by hiding in a hole in the ground in his native Hungary.

Halevi presents his story and that of his father, brilliantly. This a wonder
...more
Adam Hummel
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I just want to read everything that Yossi Klein Halevi writes
David
Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Arnie
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As someone who grew up during the 1970's era, which is the setting of much of the book, his experiences resonated for me. His journey begins as the child of a Holocaust survivor, raised in an Orthodox community in Brooklyn, involved in the struggle for Soviet Jewry and radicalized as a member of the Jewish Defense League. His experiences lead him to growth as he finds his way as a young journalist, seeks a broader understanding of how the Jewish community and Israel can interact with the broader ...more
Kitty Red-Eye
About half of this book gets five stars, especially the chapters and passages about the author’s father. Parts of the «extremist time» weren’t quite as interesting, some of it too juvenile (and perhaps a little dated as well) to mobilize great interest in, but I liked the Moscow action; and reading about Meir Kahane described as a loser by someone who actually knew him.

Everything about the Holocaust and its aftermath and effect through the generations is really well written. The feeling of what
...more
Rachel
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have loved Yossi Klein Halevi's writing since I read, "Like Dreamers," and this book is a fascinating look into his personal life as a Jew. I really enjoyed his explanations of the nuances of the different Jewish subcultures of which he was a part, and found a lot of his views on Zionism very similar to mine, which was validating. This book is also an interesting perspective on the Holocaust and how we conceptualize the slaughter of millions of Jews, and how we live with the aftermath of that ...more
Isaiah Kallman
Jun 09, 2008 rated it liked it
I'd recommend this if you ever wondered how a person could cross the line from activist to extremist. Halevi came to that line, played hopscotch on it, and then came to his senses before it was too late. It can be cumbersome about halfway through, but it makes for a well balanced picture of misdirected enthusiasm.
Charles Cohen
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewy
Fascinating. In addition to Halevi's life just being unique and Zelig-esque, his experience is emblematic of a certain kind of Holocaust survivor narrative. Moving, and infuriating, and inspiring.
Julie Gray
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'm really glad I read this book and while it was published some time back (1995) it sheds so much light on the pain of the trauma of the Holocaust and the ripples that causes and caused in every direction including, in Halevi's case, for a time in his life - rage. While this book is, on the surface, very specifically about the Jewish experience post-WWII, in Brooklyn, it's also about where our pain goes and how we recreate trauma over and over. I think of the social and political conditions the ...more
Zalman
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed the book (though for full disclosure: am generally a big fan of Yossi Klein Halevi). It was an honest and vulnerable account of how his own identity was formed in relation to his father's life experiences and outlook, and how, as he grew older, he came to discover that the right path for him - although maybe not that which his father would have predicted - was still based on the values his father taught him. All that said, don't be disappointed if you came here looking for extremi ...more
Barbara
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author grew up hearing detailed stories from his father, who survived the Holocaust hidden in a hole in the ground. “Don’t follow. Defend yourself.” From that he took up the cause of defending the Jewish people, primarily the Russians who were not allowed to leave the Soviet Union. His extremism slowly evolved to living peacefully in Israel. Excellent book, wonderful writing.
Arielle
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a really interesting book, with details about groups and a period I didn't know much about. Definitely an interesting read.
Jenn
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
I just didn't like Mr. Halevi and it is hard to like a memoir if you don't like its star.
Kara
Jun 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Slow to start, but the book got more interesting as it went along. It was somewhat repetitive but ended in beautiful fashion.
Foxglove
Nov 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Not as masterful as "Like Dreamers" (one of the greatest Jewish books written in the last 30 years) and "Garden of Eden", a good read and interesting. His story only gets better.
Jen Bernstein-hanlon
Interesting story, but really boring writing. Quick read but get it from the library- not worth buying it, I don't think.
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