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Book Review: "There Was A Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream"

Ben Sidran, a renowned musician in his own right, offers a definitive book about the ongoing impact Jews have had on the culture of this country, specifically on popular music from the 19th century through to the present.
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There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream
Revised and Updated
Ben Sidran
With a New Preface by Howard S. Becker
Nardis Books

Genre: Music history

   

Ben Sidran, a renowned musician in his own right, offers a definitive book about the ongoing impact Jews have had on the culture of this country, specifically on popular music from the 19th century through to the present. 

In another sense however, it’s a much bigger story, one that details how a group of people — often vilified, persecuted and misunderstood — managed to make an indelible imprint in an adopted country and, in the process, become a true representation of the actual American Dream. 

While specific individuals shine in the spotlight — Dylan, record exec Mo Ostin, et. al. — it’s Sidran’s ability to effectively encapsulate the entire history of popular music of the 20th century that’s especially impressive. 

Novices should note — There Was a Fire is not an easy read, but it’s an absorbing one nevertheless.

—Lee Zimmerman