These men and women, among others, form the canon of American Jewish comedy, and in this book Epstein offers us a deep and subtle understanding of how Jewish culture and American openness gave birth to a new style of entertainment. Epstein writes, "Jewish comedians in each generation were able to find in Jewish tradition, culture, and history a way to express the feelings of the wider American culture in which they lived. They drew on their heritage in ways they themselves didn't always understand. As they used that heritage to find ways to express truths about America, they transformed American culture, making Jews and Jewishness acceptable, even enviable." And what kind of book about comedy would be complete without a few laughs? Epstein frequently uses the comedians' own routines to illustrate his points, making this thoughtful work of history a great deal of fun to read.