Jews and the American Soul: Human Nature in the Twentieth Century

Jews and the American Soul: Human Nature in the Twentieth Century

Princeton University Press
9780691117553
0691117551
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Book Description

What do Joyce Brothers and Sigmund Freud, Rabbi Harold Kushner and philosopher Martin Buber have in common? They belong to a group of pivotal and highly influential Jewish thinkers who altered the face of modern America in ways few people recognize.


So argues Andrew Heinze, who reveals in rich and unprecedented detail the extent to which Jewish values, often in tense interaction with an established Christian consensus, shaped the country's psychological and spiritual vocabulary.



Jews and the American Soul is the first book to recognize the central role Jews and Jewish values have played in shaping American ideas of the inner life. It overturns the widely shared assumption that modern ideas of human nature derived simply from the nation's Protestant heritage.


Heinze marshals a rich array of evidence to show how individuals ranging from Erich Fromm to Ann Landers changed the way Americans think about mind and soul. The book shows us the many ways that Jewish thinkers influenced everything from the human potential movement and pop psychology to secular spirituality. It also provides fascinating new interpretations of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and Western views of the psyche; the clash among Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish moral sensibilities in America; the origins and evolution of America's psychological and therapeutic culture; the role of Jewish women as American public moralists, and more. A must-read for anyone interested in the contribution of Jews and Jewish culture to modern America.