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Personal identity is explored in three new books on diverse topics. • American Pride: Famous Americans Celebrate the USA is compiled by Jill Liberman (Emmis Books, ISBN 1-57860-150-9, $25). Indiana is represented here by Evan Bayh, Peyton Manning and Jeff Smulyan, along with 72 actors, athletes, public officials and TV personalities. “For more than 200 years our national experience has been a journey in pursuit of ... an idea that we call America,” states the junior U.S. senator from Indiana.

“It seems to me that in America it’s common for someone’s life to be transformed by the pure force of a dream backed by preparation and relentless determination,” writes the Colts’ quarterback. “We have taken the dreamers from all over the world, myself included, and given them a home where their dreams can become reality,” comments the chairman and CEO of Emmis Communications Corporation. It’s a quick read, with personal viewpoints, headshots and photographs of sites and events. • A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak is edited by Camille O. Cosby and Renee Poussaint, with full-page portraits by Howard L. Bingham (Atria Books, ISBN 0-7434-7892-4, $27.95). A diverse group of 49 individuals, from Maya Angelou to Andrew Young, prove why revering elders and hearing their stories are necessities. They comment over several pages. The entire essay must be read to get the point. Some offer aphorisms that stick. From Lee Archer, a retired corporate executive, who served as a Tuskegee Airman: “My dad had two big rules. One: I’m your father, I make the rules. Two, you’re my son. You obey them.” From Roscoe Lee Browne, an actor, director, poet, who appeared at Pike Performing Arts Center a half dozen years ago: “Be critical thinkers. There’s something to say for activism. It can sometimes tell you who you are. It can certainly tell you who you are not.”

• I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl, edited by Judea and Ruth Pearl (Jewish Lights, ISBN 1-58023-183-7, $24.99). One hundred and forty-seven commentators worldwide illustrate a diversity of opinions on themes of identity, heritage, faith, humanity, ethnicity, repairing the world and justice. Some make their point in a paragraph, others, including Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, offer a lengthy essay. “At the heart of what it means to be a Jew is to ask questions,” begins Rabbi Sasso, taking us through “four biblical questions [that] offer us a framework for understanding the story of Jewish identity.” “For a Jew, Judaism and humanity must go together,” Elie Wiesel states. “It is the particular responsibility of the Jew to suffuse history with holiness,” Julius Lester says. “It must be done every day, for every day a Jew must choose anew the responsibility of holiness.” Rabbi Naamah Kelman offers, “Not to take oneself too seriously, but to take one’s responsibilities very seriously.”

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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