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Bernstein interviewed 25 mothers of Jewish people, including Clara Sussman, mother of Rosalyn Yalow, a Nobel Medalist in medicine. Like other mothers in the book, Clara, who died recently, exemplified a life of hard work and sacrifice, as well as worry about her child when a teacher told her Rosalyn was a genius. ("I never met the man Einstein but I heard he was a little peculiar.") The author says Leah Adler, mother of film director Steven Spielberg, was the funniest person he'd ever met, and readers will agree. With obvious love and pride, she kvetches about bringing up a peculiar son ("I didn't know what the hell he was"). There are reports on rock stars, a lawyer, playwright and other achievers and at least two people more notorious than famous: porn film star Harry Reems and yippie ex-convict Abbie Hoffman.

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