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The Patron: A Life of Salman Schocken, 1877-1959
"Anthony David has written an engaging and well-paced biography. Its main fault is his often uncritical acceptance of Schocken's own appraisal of himself and his surroundings. Sometimes a biographer can feel too close to his subject....David could also use more perspective on Schocken's attitude toward Zionist and Israeli politics." Hillel Halkin, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
The rags-to-riches story of one of Europes great entrepreneurs and a founding father of modern Jewish secular culture
The name “Schocken”—now primarily associated with the prestigous publishing house—was once emblazoned over a vast commercial empire; across Europe, it stood for quality consumer goods and uplifting culture made available for working people.
A sweeping, colorful saga, The Patron is the first biography of Salman Schocken, founder of a large department store chain and Jewish philanthropic titan. We follow Schockens transformation from an impoverished migrant selling textiles door-to-door to a captain of German industry, at once media magnate, collector, talent scout, and patron. The merchandizing millionaire then harnessed his fortune to a vision: to disseminate Jewish secular culture to the Jewish masses, in much the same way as he marketed well-designed coffeepots to the working class. His task, as he saw it, was not to spread culture but to create it, through publishing houses, newspapers, and the patronage of such influential modern thinkers such as Martin Buber and Thomas Mann. But as the Nazi regime closed in on Schockens empire, the resilient tycoon transferred his energies and passions to Palestine and New York.
The Patron fills in a missing piece of twentieth-century history, the towering life of a self-made man who, with courage and tenacity, helped fashion a peoples national and cultural renaissance.
"This biography by David, editor and translator of Gershom Scholem's letters, is serious and illuminating, but the writing can barely keep pace with the colorful character that was Salman Schocken." Publishers Weekly
"A thoughtful, well-written memorial to an important but overlooked figure in modern Jewish letters — and a real treat for bibliophiles." Kirkus Reviews
"Written with rare verve and psychological insight, Anthony David's biography of the patron of the twentieth century German-Jewish renaissance reads like a compelling novel." Paul Mendes-Flohr, author of German Jews: A Dual Identity
"Monumental, absorbing . . . David displays authority in research, honest grace in literary tone, and analytic brilliance." -The Forward
The name Schocken-now primarily associated with the prestigious publishing house-was once emblazoned over a vast commercial empire; across Europe, it stood for quality consumer goods and uplifting culture made available for all.
In a sweeping, colorful saga, historian Anthony David tells the fascinating story of Salman Shocken, Jewish philanthropic titan and founder of a large department-store chain. The Patron follows Schocken's transformation from an impoverished migrant salesman to a captain of German industry. Once he became a merchandizing millionaire, Shocken harnessed his fortune to a vision: to disseminate Jewish secular culture to the masses through publishing houses, newspapers, and support of such influential modern thinkers such as Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem. But as the Nazi regime closed in on Schocken's enterprise, the resilient tycoon transferred his energies to Palestine and New York.
The Patron fills in a missing piece of twentieth-century history: the life of a self-made man who, with courage and tenacity, helped fashion a people's national and cultural renaissance.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -435) and index.
About the Author
Anthony David is the editor and translator of Gershom Scholem: A Life in Letters. He holds a doctorate in European history from the University of Chicago and has received the Fritz Halber Prize and a Mellon Foundation fellowship. He lives in New Mexico.
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