Oliver Pollak

Oliver Polla

Oliver B. Pollak, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Nebraska Omaha, and a lawyer, is a correspondent now based in Richmond, California.

His books, available on Amazon, include:

WWII and Libraries: Fiction and Fact

The Paris Library, A Novel, by Janet Skeslien Charles; Atria Books 2020; 9781982-134198; 355 pages; $28.00. By Oliver B. Pollak LAGUNA HILLS, California – World War II is a magnet for fiction and non-fiction books about books, bookstores and libraries. The current zoom book talk circuit includes The Paris Library, A Novel by Janet Skeslien

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‘Western States Jewish History’ Now Semi-Annual and Peer-Reviewed

After a year’s absence, Western States Jewish History, a half-century-old journal, has made its reappearance in a new format.  No longer a quarterly, the journal will be published semi-annually by Texas Tech University Press, under the editorship of Jonathan L. Friedmann, professor of Jewish Music History at the Academy for Jewish Religion-California in Los Angeles. [Donald H. Harrison]

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Books That I Declined to Review

When I read a new book I want to turn my hours of page turning into a review. I have done this hundreds of times. Even compulsion has its limits. I list unpublished reviews in my 18,000 word resume under “Unsubmitted.” They were not rejected by an editor, they were never sent to one. Until yesterday it contained three books published between 2007-2014, and now has increased by 33 percent to four titles, totaling 1323 pages. I’m a non-fiction reviewer wary of speculation, creative non-fiction, and historical fiction. [Oliver B. Pollak, Ph.D]

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Pandemic Postcard Messages, 1918-1920

The Jewish Welfare Board was created on April 9, 1917, three days after the U.S. declared war on Germany. It wanted to provide services to Jewish troops similar to what Catholic servicemen received from the Knights of Columbus and Protestants from the YMCA. In 1919, after the war was over, the JWB printed tens of thousands of these reassuring cards depicting a grinning doughboy and distributed them to servicemen to send to family and friends. [Oliver B. Pollak, Ph.D]

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Growth of Jewish Communities Promoted in the Early 20th Century

The headline in the adjoining news clipping is hype. “May” is not “will” or “shall.” Booster describes real estate developers, hucksters and visionaries who wanted to profit from growing communities and increases in real estate prices. Saul Voorsanger, who emigrated from Holland with his wife Sarah in 1893, promoted the growth of the Jewish population. He was a salesman and publicist and the brother of Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Jacob Voorsanger. The rabbi started Emanu-El, San Francisco’s weekly Jewish newspaper in 1895 and died in 1908. Sol, Saul or S. became editor. During 1912 several newspapers reported Voorsanger’s visiting chambers of commerce in San Diego, Visalia, Fresno, Modesto, Kings, San Joaquin, and Dinuba. He solicited advertising for a special 75,000 copy edition of Emanu-El to recruit better-off Russian Jews to buy and farm California land, a chimera. [Oliver B. Pollak]

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Becoming a Bibliophile, 1950-1970

My mother read me Curious George, I read it to my children and grandchildren. The earliest books in my library were gifted and inscribed midcentury. My uncle, Eric Bonner, an antiquarian book dealer in London, gave me Speed, one of my sons added his book plate. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe came from Leslie who I do not remember. [Oliver B. Pollak, Ph.D]

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