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When The Ghetto first appeared seventy years ago, Bruno Lasker in the New York Times called it "the most informing general account of the cultural background and psychological development of the American Jew." Arguably, the book still occupies this special niche in ethnic studies. Hasia Diner's extensive new introduction, in itself an important contribution to the history of sociological ideas, points out that The Ghetto "stands in a class by itself as a piece of scholarship of the early twentieth century." That judgment stands.
The Ghetto traces back to the medieval era the Jewish immigrant colonies that have virtually disappeared from our modern cities—to be replaced by other ghettoes. Analytical as well as historical, Wirth's book lays bare the rich inner life hidden behind the drab exterior of the ghetto. The book describes the significant physical, social, and psychic influences of ghetto life upon the Jews. Wirth demonstrates that the economic life of the modern Jew still reflects the impress of the social isolation of ghetto life; at first self-imposed, later formalized, and finally imposed by others through a variety of extralegal mechanisms. He presents a faithful picture of an environment now largely vanished and illustrates a sociological method in so doing.
In his foreword to the book, Robert E. Park reminds us that the city is not merely an artifact but an organism. Its growth is often uncontrolled and undesigned. The forms it tends to assume are those which represent and correspond to the functions that it is called upon to perform. The Ghetto will be important to scholars in Jewish studies, the history of sociology, American ethnic history, and social history. This volume is the second in a series of studies in ethnicity edited by Ronald H. Bayor of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
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Louis Wirth (1897–1952) was both educated at the University of Chicago and, after a brief period at Tulane University, became a member of its Sociology Department for the remainder of his life. His work "Urbanism as a Way of Life" served as a paradigm in the intellectual history of the profession.
Hasia Diner is the Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History; Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, History; and Director of the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History at New York UniversityReview:
"Not only does Louis Wirth's classic The Ghetto still make for fascinating reading, but Hasia Diner's insightful introduction to this new edition superbly contextualizes the book in the complex life of the man and in the historical moment in academic sociology and American Jewish life during which he wrote it."
—Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
"Few who have studied American Judaism, or for that matter almost any field of Jewish history, are totally unfamiliar with Louis Wirth's The Ghetto, a classic of both sociology and community history. . . . It would seem to me that his study of a Chicago Jewish neighborhood withstands the test of time and is an important contribution to all those involved in local settlement patterns, urban and neighborhood history, and community building in America."
—Seth Ward, University of Denver
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Book Description University of Chicago Press, 1928. Condition: New. Todros Geller (illustrator). book. Seller Inventory # M0226902501