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The Promise
Cover of The Promise
The Promise
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In a passionate, energetic narrative, The Promise brilliantly dramatizes what it is to master and use knowledge to make one's own way in the world.
Reuven Malter lives in Brooklyn, he's in love, and he's studying to be a rabbi. He also keeps challenging the strict interpretations of his teachers, and if he keeps it up, his dream of becoming a rabbi may die.

One day, worried about a disturbed, unhappy boy named Michael, Reuven takes him sailing and cloud-watching. Reuven also introduces him to an old friend, Danny Saunders—now a psychologist with a growing reputation. Reconnected by their shared concern for Michael, Reuven and Danny each learns what it is to take on life—whether sacred truths or a troubled child—according to his own lights, not just established authority.

In a passionate, energetic narrative, The Promise brilliantly dramatizes what it is to master and use knowledge to make one's own way in the world.
Reuven Malter lives in Brooklyn, he's in love, and he's studying to be a rabbi. He also keeps challenging the strict interpretations of his teachers, and if he keeps it up, his dream of becoming a rabbi may die.

One day, worried about a disturbed, unhappy boy named Michael, Reuven takes him sailing and cloud-watching. Reuven also introduces him to an old friend, Danny Saunders—now a psychologist with a growing reputation. Reconnected by their shared concern for Michael, Reuven and Danny each learns what it is to take on life—whether sacred truths or a troubled child—according to his own lights, not just established authority.

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    OneThe county fair was Rachel's idea. She had a passion for the theater, James Joyce, and county fairs, and she could be quite persuasive when it came to those three passions. We would go on the Sunday in the third week of August, the closing night of the fair, when there would be a fireworks display. We would have a splendid time, she said. It was also her idea that we take her cousin Michael.It was warm that Sunday night and the sky was clear and filled with stars. We sat in the front seat of the DeSoto and Rachel drove carefully along the dark asphalt country roads. Michael sat quietly between us, staring out of the windshield. A moment after we reached the highway he suddenly became quite talkative. He chatted about his frogs and salamanders. He talked about Andromeda, white dwarfs, and red giants. He seemed to know a great deal about astronomy. He had a high, thin voice and he spoke animatedly and in a rushing flow of technical words. I saw Rachel smiling. She wore a yellow sleeveless summer dress and her short auburn hair blew in the warm wind that came through the open windows of the car.We came to a crossroads, bright with the neon life of a night highway, then went around a sharp curve. Set into the darkness about an eighth of a mile away, and looking as though it had carved itself into the night, was the county fair. Michael abruptly ceased talking and leaned forward in the seat.The fair lay stretched out upon a huge field alongside the highway, bathed in a blaze of electric lights and neon signs, with strings of bulbs across an entrance arch spelling out the word PARKING, and floodlights poking bright fingers into the black sky, and blurred gashes of colored lights from a moving Ferris wheel and parachute jump. The brightness formed a pale, smoky, faintly pink arc-shaped cloud over the entire area, sealing it off from the darkness beyond. In the center of the field was a roller coaster with strings of lighted bulbs following its tortuous contour.Rachel parked the car and we came out onto the graveled surface of the parking lot and to a chain-link fence with a gate. We went through the gate and into the county fair.The three of us were standing on an asphalt road that was jammed with people. Teen-agers jostled roughly through the crowd, children ran about wildly, young and old couples moved along or stood near booths playing carnival games. A thick din choked the air. I heard gongs, bells, rifle shots from a nearby shooting gallery, the music of a calliope, the whooshing roar of the roller coaster, and a steady waterfall of human noise. It seemed as if all the noise of the world's wide night had descended upon this one stretch of lighted earth."We're in the wrong place," I said to Rachel.She stood alongside me on the asphalt road, her face pale in the garish lights. Michael was staring around wide-eyed at the booths."What did you do, take a wrong turn somewhere?" I was annoyed and I let my voice show it."No, I did not take a wrong turn somewhere.""'What happened to your county fair?""It was advertised as a fair. You saw the poster. Annual county fair. In big red letters. You saw it too.""I don't like carnivals," I said."Neither do I.""What do you want to do?"She looked around indecisively, chewing her lip. I saw her glance at Michael, who stood nearby staring at the roller coaster."Why don't we call up James Joyce and find out what he would do?" I said, feeling irritated and annoyed and wanting to get away from the noise and the wildness.She gave me an angry look. "Don't be nasty," she said. "It isn't my fault.""What do you want to do?""We'll see the exhibits and go right home.""They've probably got three cows and two horses in a tent somewhere.""We'll look and go...

About the Author-
  • Chaim Potok was born in New York City in 1929. He graduated from Yeshiva University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, was ordained as a rabbi, and earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. He also served as editor of the Jewish Publication Society of America. Potok's first novel, The Chosen, published in 1967, received the Edward Lewis Wallant Memorial Book Award and was nominated for the National Book Award. He is author of eight novels, including In the Beginning and My Name is Asher Lev, and Wanderings, a history of the Jews. He died in 2002.

Reviews-
  • The New York Times Book Review

    "A profound, moving book...refreshing, inspiring" --The Wall Street Journal"A superb mirror of a place, a time, and a group of people who capture our immediate interest and holid it tightly." --The Philadelphia Inquirer"The characterizations are vivid, the incidents dramatic, the narrative fluid. . . . Overall . . . a glow of human erudition and compassion." --Washington Post Book World"Brilliantly and intricately conceived. . . . The Chosen established Chaim Potok's reputation as a significant writer. The Promise reaffirms it."

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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