The Patron by Anthony David
A Life of Salman Schocken, 1877-1959

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The rags-to-riches story of one of Europe’s great entrepreneurs and a founding father of modern Jewish secular culture

The name “Schocken”—now primarily associated with the prestigous publishing house—was once emblazoned over a vast commercial empire; across Europe, it stood for quality consumer goods and uplifting culture made available for working people.

A sweeping, colorful saga, The Patron is the first biography of Salman Schocken, founder of a large department store chain and Jewish philanthropic titan. We follow Schocken’s transformation from an impoverished migrant selling textiles door-to-door to a captain of German industry, at once media magnate, collector, talent scout, and patron. The merchandizing millionaire then harnessed his fortune to a vision: to disseminate Jewish secular culture to the Jewish masses, in much the same way as he marketed well-designed coffeepots to the working class. His task, as he saw it, was not to spread culture but to create it, through publishing houses, newspapers, and the patronage of such influential modern thinkers such as Martin Buber and Thomas Mann. But as the Nazi regime closed in on Schocken’s empire, the resilient tycoon transferred his energies and passions to Palestine and New York.

The Patron fills in a missing piece of twentieth-century history, the towering life of a self-made man who, with courage and tenacity, helped fashion a people’s national and cultural renaissance.

About Anthony David

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Anthony David is the editor and translator of Gershom Scholem: A Life in Letters. He holds a doctorate in European history from the University of Chicago and has received the Fritz Halber Prize and a Mellon Foundation fellowship. He lives in New Mexico.
Published December 1, 2003 by Metropolitan Books. 464 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, History, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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A modern Medici, Schocken supported with stipends and advice (not always desired) many of the great Jewish cultural figures of the first half of the 20th century, including S.Y.

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Project MUSE

Salman Schocken was the German version of the American dream: a poor Jew from the Prussian eastern provinces moves to a small town in Saxony, builds up one of Weimar Germany's leading chains of department stores, and emerges as an architectural pioneer who has Erich Mendelsohn build the most exci...

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