Three New York Times bestsellers chronicle the rise of America’s most influential Jewish families as they transition from poor immigrants to household names.
In his acclaimed trilogy, author Stephen Birmingham paints an engrossing portrait of Jewish American life from the colonial era through the twentieth century with fascinating narrative and meticulous research.
The collection’s best-known book, “Our Crowd” follows nineteenth-century German immigrants with recognizable names like Loeb, Sachs, Lehman, Guggenheim, and Goldman. Turning small family businesses into institutions of finance, banking, and philanthropy, they elevated themselves from Lower East Side tenements to Park Avenue mansions. Barred from New York’s gentile elite because of their religion and humble backgrounds, they created their own exclusive group, as affluent and selective as the one that had refused them entry.
The Grandees travels farther back in history to 1654, when twenty-three Sephardic Jews arrived in New York. Members of this small and insulated group—considered the first Jewish community in America—soon established themselves as wealthy businessmen and financiers. With descendants including poet Emma Lazarus, Barnard College founder Annie Nathan Meyer, and Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo, these families were—and still are—hugely influential in the nation’s culture, politics, and economics.
In “The Rest of Us,” Birmingham documents the third major wave of Jewish immigration: Eastern Europeans who swept through Ellis Island between 1880 and 1924. These refugees from czarist Russia and Polish shtetls were considered barbaric, uneducated, and too steeped in the traditions of the “old country” to be accepted by the well-established German American Jews. But the new arrivals were tough, passionate, and determined. Their incredible rags to riches stories include those of the lives of Hollywood tycoon Samuel Goldwyn, Broadway composer Irving Berlin, makeup mogul Helena Rubenstein, and mobster Meyer Lansky.
This unforgettable collection comprises a comprehensive account of the Jewish American upper class, their opulent world, and their lasting mark on American society.
Open Road Media; June 2016
- ISBN 9781504038959
- Read online, or download in secure EPUB format
- Title: The Jews in America Trilogy
- Author: Stephen Birmingham
Imprint: Open Road Media
In The Press
Praise for “Our Crowd”
“A fascinating and absorbing chapter of New York social and financial history.” —Louis Auchincloss
“Future American histories will have to take into account [this] financial and social history and imposing cast of characters.” —TheNew York Times Book Review
Praise for The Grandees
“[A] thoughtful and successful book.” —Chicago Tribune
“Gorgeous . . . intelligence, good writing . . . Just serious enough and never boring.” —New York magazine
Praise for “The Rest of Us”
“Discoveries guaranteed to surprise!” —TheNew York Times
“Breezy and entertaining, full of gossip!” —The Washington Post
About The Author
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, he graduated from Williams College in 1953 and taught writing at the University of Cincinnati. Birmingham’s work focuses on the upper class in America. He’s written about the African American elite in Certain People and prominent Jewish society in “Our Crowd,” The Grandees, and “The Rest of Us.” His work also encompasses several novels including The Auerbach Will, The LeBaron Secret, Shades of Fortune, and The Rothman Scandal, and other nonfiction titles such as California Rich, The Grandes Dames, and Life at the Dakota: New York’s Most Unusual Address.