Redcliffe Salaman (1874–1955) was an English Jew of many facets: a country gentleman, a physician, a biologist who pioneered the breeding of blight-free strains of potatoes, a Jewish nationalist, and a race scientist. A well-known figure in his own time, The Last Anglo-JewishGentleman restores him to his place in the history of British science and the British Jewish community. Redcliffe Salaman was also a leading figure in the Anglo-Jewish community in the 20th century. At the same time, he was also an incisive critic of the changing character of that community. His groundbreaking book, The History and Social Influence of the Potato, first published in 1949 and in print ever since, is a classic in social history. His wife Nina was a feminist, poet, essayist, and translator of medieval Hebrew poetry. She was the first (and to this day, only) woman to deliver a sermon in an Orthodox synagogue in Britain.
The Last-Anglo Jewish Gentleman offers a compelling biography of a unique individual. It also provides insights into the life of English Jews during the late-19th and early-20th centuries and brings to light largely unknown controversies and tensions in Jewish life.
Note on Sources
1. Family Background and Early Years
2. Medicine and Marriage
4. Race Science
5. Nina and the Hebrew Poets
6. World War I and the Land of Israel
7. The Home Front
8. Communal Work and Personal Loss
9. The Jewish Health Organization of Great Britain
10. Conflicts at Home and Abroad
11. The Potato Book
12. Communal Gadfly
Todd Endelman is Professor Emeritus of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. His many books include Radical Assimilation in English Jewish History, 1656–1945 (IUP, 1990), The Jews of Britain, 1656–2000, Broadening Jewish History: Toward a Social History of Ordinary Jews, and Leaving the Jewish Fold: Conversion and Radical Assimilation in Modern Jewish History.
"A meticulously researched and elegantly written biography of a fascinating, multi-faceted and unjustly forgotten figure that exhumes lost dimensions of Anglo-Jewish history."—David Sorkin, Lucy G. Moses professor of Jewish history at Yale University
"More than a biography, The Last Anglo-Jewish Gentleman reads like a saga of the British Jewish elite of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Redcliffe Salaman, the figure at this book's heart, took on the life of a country gentleman, embraced eugenics, married a translator of medieval Hebrew poetry, hobnobbed with Britain's leading Jewish lights, dedicated years to grappling with the history of the potato. He was wildly eccentric but also deeply embedded. All told, Salaman serves as a fascinating window into the salon of the historic, Anglo-Jewish upper class."—Sarah Abrevaya Stein, author of Family Papers: a Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century
"Redcliffe Salaman was a privileged and cultured polymath, and Todd Endelman tells his story with authority and grace. More than a biography, Endelman's book is a tale of an interconnected Anglo-Jewish elite and its decline over the course of the 20th century. An absorbing account."—Derek J. Penslar, author of Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader
"Meticulously researched and skilfully written, The Last Anglo-Jewish Gentleman reveals the dynamics of upper-middle class Jewish life in Britain from the late Victorians period to the middle of the twentieth century. Encompassing family and social life as well as intellectual and political history, Todd Endelman has produced a vivid and humane biography and, at the same time, brings new insights to the history of Jewish integration in modern Britain."—David Feldman, University of London