PERSONAL: Male. Education: Earned Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Office—c/o Author Mail, Greenwood Press, 88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881.
CAREER: Towson University, Towson, MD, professor of sociology.
An Unacknowledged Harmony: Philo-Semitism and the Survival of European Jewry, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1982.
Everybody Is Sitting on the Curb: How and Why America's Heroes Disappeared, Praeger (Westport, CT), 1996.
SIDELIGHTS: Sociologist and historian Alan Edelstein's first book dealt with an interesting phenomenon in an often-dark period of history. An Unacknowledged Harmony: Philo-Semitism and the Survival of European Jewry draws on European, Jewish, and Holocaust documents to tell the stories of gentiles who were drawn to favor and protect Jews from the time of the Roman Empire to the Nazi era, when philo-Semitism became a dangerous and heroic enterprise. Edelstein's next book explores heroism itself, or rather its absence. Everybody Is Sitting on the Curb: How and Why America's Heroes Disappeared describes the ways in which heroes as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Babe Ruth and John F. Kennedy have given way to the merely famous or to more marginal heroes that simply do not gain the national fame of previous eras.
For Edelstein, changes in social structures and cultural outlook, such as the tell-all media and the growing emphasis on political correctness and diversity, have replaced transcendent heroes with ephemeral heroes and insubstantial celebrities. While military, sports, entertainment, and politics continue to yield famous names and admired figures, there is no longer the sense of a shared national greatness embodied in such heroes. According to Edelstein, this may indicate a maturing of democracy, a refusal to accept an innately higher status for our fellow citizens. As Ray Browne pointed out in the Journal of Popular Culture, "this democractizing influence is not a leveling-down but a leveling-up. Instead of Kennedy being pulled down to our size, we are pushed up to his."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1996, review of Everybody Is Sitting on the Curb: How and Why America's Heroes Disappeared, p. 1798.
Journal of Popular Culture, fall, 2000, Ray Browne, review of Everybody Is Sitting on the Curb, p. 186.