Books Authored

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Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere)

Austeria 2008

Ruth Ellen Gruber contributed regular “Letters from Europe” (and sometimes elsewhere) to the U.S. magazine The New Leader. Mixing travelogue with social and cultural commentary, she delves under the skin of European society to provide a closely observed, uniquely personal take on topics ranging from politics to pop music, from architecture to local cuisine. This volume collects a decade of her colorful, insightful reports – from 1997 to 2007. The datelines range from Warsaw and Sarajevo to Bucharest, London, Budapest, Brno, Nuremberg, Paris, the tiny village of Morruzze, Italy, and more.

“[T]he letters are a form of epistolary journalism, in which the writer melds personal experience into describing an event. The late Ryszard Kapuściński was among its greatest practitioners. In similar form, Gruber observes and interprets at close range such phenomena as a deja-vu Rolling Stones concert in Vienna; Czech bluegrass and the Tramp movement, and the architecture and (McDonald’s) arches of Budapest.”

                                            — The Warsaw Voice, Warsaw

National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe
National Geographic, 2007

“Travelers to Eastern Europe, onetime heartland of world Jewry, should buy or borrow the splendid new guidebook to the area, published by the National Geographic Magazine and written by prize-winning American journalist, Ruth Ellen Gruber ….  Her ‘Jewish Heritage Travel’ is a detailed and comprehensive report on Jewish history and present-day Jewish life in the 14 countries she describes in her work.”

                                                                — New York Jewish Week

“Gruber’s excellent guide is a must for people who want to visit Eastern Europe. It is clearly not ‘just a book for Jews.’ Instead, it is a superb way to learn about a part of the world that directly touches the lives of many religious and ethnic groups.”

                                        — James Rudin, Religion News Service

Articles about “Jewish Heritage Travel”

Updated Travel Guide Sets Sights on Jewish Revival in Eastern Europe

— So Many Sites, So Little Time: Author Lists Top 10 Destinations

The culture that ‘refuses to go away’

Back on the Map (Jerusalem Post)


Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe

University of California Press, 2002

“Gruber . . . has created a must read  for anyone interested in Jewish  culture, or any  culture for that matter.”

— United Press International

“A pop-culture happening still in the process of evolution, ‘virtual Jewishness’ gets a provocative airing in this unusual take on the uses of memory.”

— Montreal Gazette

“Virtually Jewish … has more depth and thoughtful analysis than many reporters’ accounts, and it’s written in a livelier, more readable style than most academic books.”

— The Jewish Week

“In the fascinating Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe, Ruth Ellen Gruber employs a sociologist’s eye and a novelist’s style to consider the way countries such as Germany, Italy, and Poland have been seeking to revive Jewish culture over the past decade.”

Business Week


“Remarkable … [a] fine, meticulously researched book, filled … with reportage and reflection, nuance and paradox.”

— The Gazette, Montreal, Quebec

A “haunting evocation of Jewish life as it used to be and as it survives ….”

— The International Herald Tribune

“… a poignant and painstaking quest …. a book full of shadows and ghosts and graveyards — but full, too … with a vibrant and vitalizing sense of the presence of the past, and a passionate and inspiring faith in history’s abiding human lessons.”

— The San Francisco Examiner

“Ruth Gruber is like an archeologist as she guides us along the remaining traces of Jewish civilization in East and Central Europe, pointing out the blank spaces on the doorposts of that culture — today’s constant reminders of the Jews’ vibrant contribution to the region’s history.”

— Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio