News! The paperback edition of The Chosen Wars is now available! (August 2019)

My new book, published in 2018, is The Chosen Wars: How Judaism Became an American Religion. See my op-ed in The New York Times: “The idea of Judaism with a social conscience is rooted in a rich history of American Jews struggling to Americanize their faith while seeing their ‘chosen’ status as an opportunity to ‘repair the world.’”

The New York Times Book Review has designated The Chosen Wars as an Editor’s Choice: “American Judaism underwent a radical shift in the 19th century, adapting its rituals and its theology alike for an open, modern society. Weisman offers a thorough and fascinat­ing history of these decades, which gave birth to the liberal branches of Judaism and allowed Jews to feel at home and thrive in America.”

See the great Washington Post review: a “well-documented and compelling book… a series of visionary, courageous, often problematic and egotistical men propel Weisman’s story…. a story that is both sobering and inspirational.”

Also a terrific review in the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Weisman’s meticulously researched and fluently argued book is a compelling story of a glorious past.”

PBS interview

 See my interview on television on Nov. 22 with Judy Woodruff on the PBS NewsHour Bookshelf: “Why the rise of American Judaism offers a ‘great political story.’”

Read the review in Publishers Weekly declaring that “anyone interested in American Judaism will be enlightened by this lucid and entertaining history.”

See my interview in Publishers Weekly: “I wrote this book to show that … Jews can draw strength from their history and the courageous figures of the past.”

“The rise of Judaism in America is an astonishing, underappreciated history with remarkable and eccentric personalities. Steve Weisman explains a lot about our country, about the Jewish people and tells a really great story.” — Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, author of David: The Divided Heart

From the Simon & Schuster website: The Chosen Wars is the important story of how Judaism enhanced America and how America inspired Judaism.

Steven R. Weisman tells the dramatic history of how Judaism redefined itself in America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—the personalities that fought each other and shaped its evolution and, crucially, the force of the American dynamic that transformed an ancient religion.

The struggles that produced a redefinition of Judaism illuminate the larger American experience and the efforts by all Americans to reconcile their faith with modern demands. The narrative begins with the arrival of the first Jews in New Amsterdam and plays out over the nineteenth century as a massive immigration takes place at the dawn of the twentieth century.

First there was the practical matter of earning a living. Many immigrants had to work on the Sabbath or traveled as peddlers to places where they could not keep kosher. Doctrine was put aside or adjusted. To take their places as equals, American Jews rejected their identity as a separate nation within America. Judaism became an American religion.

These profound changes did not come without argument. The Chosen Wars tells the stories of the colorful rabbis and activists, including women, who defined American Judaism and whose disputes divided it into the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox branches that remain today. Isaac Mayer Wise, Mordecai Noah, David Einhorn, Rebecca Gratz, and Isaac Lesser are some of the major figures in this wonderful story.

“An incredible saga. Steve Weisman has excavated Jewish American history with narrative flair and wisdom. The Chosen Wars will become a fixture on the shelves of the diaspora and beyond.” — Franklin Foer, author of World Without Mind

“A popular, readable account of the outsized personalities and dramatic conflicts that produced a distinctively American Judaism over the course of the Nineteenth Century. The Chosen Wars draws upon recent scholarship to produce a history that is as unforgettable as it is relevant to our times.” — Jonathan D. Sarna, University Professor, Brandeis University and author of American Judaism: A History


To purchase the book at an independent bookstore, click here.

The Great Tradeoff: Confronting Moral Conflicts in the Era of Globalization

A blend of economics, moral philosophy, history, and politics arguing that the concepts of liberty, justice, virtue, and loyalty help to explain the passionate disagreements spawned by a globally integrated economy.

“A broad and wonderfully stimulating book that will make you think. The Great Tradeoff should be required reading for anyone interested in economic policy.” – Liaquat Ahamed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World.

“An excellent text for the discussion we need. Weisman painstakingly avoids dogmatism and is careful in laying out the often-agonizing choices we face.” – E.J. Dionne, The Washington Post

To read more about this book on the publisher’s website, or to purchase a copy, click here.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary

One the best books of 2010 – The New York Times

“There can be no better bedside collection for anyone who is interested in the history of America and the world in the second half of the twentieth century—or in a life lived bravely.” – The Economist

“[This book] will probably be read more widely and for longer, and certainly with greater pleasure, than any of the others on the Moynihan shelf.” – The New Yorker

The Great Tax Wars: Lincoln to Wilson — How the Income Tax Transformed America

“A riveting story, peopled by extraordinary characters … Weisman illuminates American political and economic history from Abraham Lincoln’s administration through Woodrow Wilson’s.” – The New Yorker

“[An] engaging reconstruction…of largely forgotten history….Weisman’s account is crisply written, highly readable, and informative.” – The New York Times

“Weisman lays bare the early history of the progressive income tax…and in the process makes present-day fracases over taxation echo a much longer debate over wealth and its proper uses in the American republic.” – The Washington Post