Carolina Israelite: How Harry Golden Made Us Care about Jews, the South, and Civil Rights



This first comprehensive biography of Jewish American writer and humorist Harry Golden (1903-1981)--author of the 1958 national best-seller Only in America--illuminates a remarkable life intertwined with the rise of the civil rights movement, Jewish popular culture, and the sometimes precarious position of Jews in the South and across America during the 1950s.

After recounting Golden's childhood on New York's Lower East Side, Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett points to his stint in prison as a young man, after a widely publicized conviction for investment fraud during the Great Depression, as the root of his empathy for the underdog in any story. During World War II, the cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur landed in Charlotte, North Carolina, and founded the Carolina Israelite newspaper, which was published into the 1960s. Golden's writings on race relations and equal rights attracted a huge popular readership. Golden used his celebrity to editorialize for civil rights as the momentous story unfolded. He charmed his way into friendships and lively correspondence with Carl Sandburg, Adlai Stevenson, Robert Kennedy, and Billy Graham, among other notable Americans, and he appeared on the Tonight Show as well as other national television programs. Hartnett's spirited chronicle captures Golden's message of social inclusion for a new audience today.

Product Details

$36.00  $33.12
University of North Carolina Press
Publish Date
May 11, 2015
6.3 X 1.15 X 9.57 inches | 1.49 pounds

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About the Author

Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett is a writer living in New Hampshire. She worked as a journalist for more than thirty years in New England and the Pacific Northwest.


Compelling.--New Hampshire Union Leader

A marvelous biography of a man with numerous and ambiguous
American, Southern, and Jewish identities. . . . A page-turner well worth the the attention of scholars and laypeople.--Mark K. Bauman, The American Jewish Archives Journal

Much more than the biography of one man . . . this is a well-told account of the civil rights movement, describing significant milestones in its history, the splits among its leaders, and the various forms that activism took. A solid piece of research.--Kirkus Reviews

[A] comprehensive biography of [Golden's] life as a popular journalist, author, and vocal civil rights supporter in North Carolina.--American Literature

A wonderful book, long overdue, about one of the most underrated and unappreciated writers in American literature.--Rooftop Reviews

This book describes a significant chapter of American political history....Will appeal as a well-told, stranger than fiction tale.--CHOICE

[Hartnett] is a superb writer who knows what can be produced when you research the past and learn what 'regular people' are reading.--Robert Stepto, Washington Post

[Hartnett] does not scant any of her subject's faults and brings out his virtues.--Joseph Epstein, The Wall Street Journal

Meticulously researched, and deftly written biography of a self-made commentator who rose to national fame and influence.--American Journalism

[A] brisk, thoroughly researched, and mostly admiring biography.--Edward Kosner, Commentary

[A] highly readable and recommended biography.--Library Journal, starred review

Comprehensive, expertly researched and engagingly written.--News & Observer

Superbly written [and] solidly researched.--Seattle Times

Golden is a fascinating subject for academic study, and Hartnett writes about him with humor and clarity.--Journal of Southern History

[A] comprehensive biography [that] reads like a Who's Who of [Golden's] heyday."

"Makes a lively and convincing case that Harry Golden made people care about Jews, the South, and civil rights. . . . Makes the reader care about Harry Golden.--North Carolina Historical Review

Hartnett's research into Golden's life is prodigious.--Western States Jewish History