Select one of the keywords
How to Be a Mentsh: (and Not a Shmuck)    by Michael Wex order for
How to Be a Mentsh
by Michael Wex
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

*   Reviewed by Lori Waddington

When I first saw the cover of this book, I thought to myself, 'Mentsh and Shmuck are spelled wrong. The proper spelling is Mensch and Schmuck.' But author Michael Wex set me straight, as he explains that the German spelling that I am used to is different from the Yiddish spelling he uses in his book.

Wex, author also of Born to Kvetch and Just Say Nu, defines a Shmuck as an 'inconsiderate idiot who has no idea of the effect that he has on others' and believes that 'consequences are for other people,' while to be a Mentsh 'is to do what you know to be your human duty, even when the obligation is at odds with your own preferences.'

Once Wex defines these words, the rest of the book is spent trying to convince the reader that the world would be a much better place if each of us behaved more like a Mentsh (and not a Shmuck).

The problem I had with Wex's writing was that he spends the first fifty pages going into painstaking and tedious detail as he explains the meanings of both Mentsh and Shmuck, and I sort of lost interest after that. On the other hand, if you are interested in learning more about these and other Yiddish words, then How to be a Mentsh (and not a Shmuck) is the book for you.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews