In the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess a bias before writing this book review. It’s not that I know the author, or that I have been paid to give it rave reviews. No, it is simply that I am a Fiddler on the Roof fanatic. I’ve seen the film dozens of times and the play three or four, including one very memorable occasion when Chaim Topol reprised his role as Tevye in a farewell tour several years ago.

And I’m hardly alone. As Alisa Solomon explores in her newest book Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye and his five daughters have become cultural touchstones across the globe. Even almost 50 years since the musical had its Broadway debut, and well over 100 years since Sholem Aleichem first published his Yiddish tales of the poor Russian milkman, the images and sounds of the play and subsequent film still hold powerful sway.

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