Roads Taken

Roads Taken

The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way

Book - 2015
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Yale University
Finalist for the 2015 National Jewish Book Award--Celebrate 350 Award for American Jewish Studies

Between the late 1700s and the 1920s, nearly one-third of the world’s Jews emigrated to new lands. Crossing borders and often oceans, they followed paths paved by intrepid peddlers who preceded them. This book is the first to tell the remarkable story of the Jewish men who put packs on their backs and traveled forth, house to house, farm to farm, mining camp to mining camp, to sell their goods to peoples across the world. Persistent and resourceful, these peddlers propelled a mass migration of Jewish families out of central and eastern Europe, north Africa, and the Ottoman Empire to destinations as far-flung as the United States, Great Britain, South Africa, and Latin America.
Hasia Diner tells the story of millions of discontented young Jewish men who sought opportunity abroad, leaving parents, wives, and sweethearts behind. Wherever they went, they learned unfamiliar languages and customs, endured loneliness, battled the elements, and proffered goods from the metropolis to people of the hinterlands. In the Irish Midlands, the Adirondacks of New York, the mining camps of New South Wales, and so many other places, these traveling men brought change—to themselves and the families who later followed, to the women whose homes and communities they entered, and ultimately to the geography of Jewish history.

The never-before-told story of countless Jewish on-the-road peddlers who crossed the globe in search of better lives

Publisher: New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, [2015]
ISBN: 9780300178647
Branch Call Number: 381.1 DINER
Characteristics: xix, 247 pages, 10 unnumbered pages of plates ; 25 cm


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Dec 12, 2017

I just put this book on hold and it will the third time I am reading it. I love this book. I love the history Diner gives us. I think about these peddlers and their lives. I might be reading a novel about, say, the frontier push west, and the author mentions the peddler who comes with his backpack (or wagon) and brings useful and also pretty things. And I know the peddler's story. In reading about the Maroons of the South, as in Sylviane Douif's magnificent book, the peddlers brought important goods to the slaves (paid for with their minuscule wages from being let out to work).


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