Out of Step (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
At the beginning of Out of Step: An Unquiet Life in the Twentieth Century, Sidney Hook describes his childhood in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn before World War I: It was a “slum of checkered ethnic pattern—Irish, Italian, German, Jewish, with a scattering of East and Southeastern European families.” Each ethnic group had its own enclave, and Jewish boys such as Hook risked a beating when they ventured into streets that were considered the territory of the Irish and German boys. Jewish boys were called “Sheenies,” and fights between ethnic groups of boys were common—although Hook suffered no more than bruises and abrasions. From the start, Hook implies, he was introduced to a world of conflict and prejudice. If he occasionally had to run away from his tormentors, he usually held his own on the streets and in the classroom. A fierce proponent of democratic, anti-Stalinist ideas, Hook has often engaged in what the reviewer in The New Leader has called “verbal overkill.” In his long autobiography, Hook displays his penchant for overwhelming his opponents with arguments, but he also provides a shrewd estimate of his time and of the personages who came to dominate it.
Hook’s autobiography is essential reading because it reveals the roots of American radicalism in the twentieth century. Before World War I, there was no socialist state. Hook and his contemporaries could see the injustices of capitalism—the unemployment...
(The entire section is 1863 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Choice. XXIV, July, 1987, p. 1706.
Fortune. CXV, April 13, 1987, p. 122.
The Humanist. XLVII, September, 1987, p. 45.
The Nation. CCXLIV, May 30, 1987, p. 726.
National Review. XXXIX, August 4, 1987, p. 43.
The New Leader. LXX, March 23, 1987, p. 14.
The New Republic. CXCVI, May 4, 1987, p. 30.
The New York Times Book Review. XCII, April 12, 1987, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXI, February 13, 1987, p. 85.
Time. CXXIX, March 30, 1987, p. 72.
The Wall Street Journal. April 15, 1987, p. 32.
The Washington Post Book World. XVII, May 3, 1987, p. 5.
(The entire section is 67 words.)