Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical

TitleMaking Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsMost, Andrea
Number of Pages253
PublisherHarvard University Press
CityCambridge, MA

From 1925 to 1951—three chaotic decades of depression, war, and social upheaval—Jewish writers brought to the musical stage a powerfully appealing vision of America fashioned through song and dance. It was an optimistic, meritocratic, selectively inclusive America in which Jews could at once lose and find themselves. This book examines two interwoven narratives crucial to an understanding of twentieth-century American culture: the stories of Jewish acculturation and of the development of the American musical. Here we delve into the work of the most influential artists of the genre during the years surrounding World War II and encounter new interpretations of renowned classics. Most's analysis reveals how these brilliant composers, librettists, and performers transformed the experience of New York Jews into the grand, even sacred acts of being American. In this book we see how the communities these musicals invented and the anthems they popularized constructed a vision of America that fostered self-understanding as the nation became a global power.

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