The Rise of David Levinsky

by Abraham Cahan

Book, 1960



Call number




New York, Harper [1960], 529 pages


David Levinsky is a Russian Jew--part of a vast group who immigrated to New York in the 1880s. Orphaned and penniless, he settles on the Lower East Side, where every newcomer is sneered at by anyone who has been in America even a few months longer. But he makes his way up, step by step, mishap by mishap, plan by plan: from street peddler to small manufacturer to millionaire power broker in the ever-expanding business of mass-produced women's clothing.

User reviews

LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
Written in 1917 The Rise of David Levinsky is the story of Russian born immigrant David Levinsky and his rise to riches in the garment industry in New York City. Cahan's depiction of Levinsky remains one of the best accounts of not only immigrants seeking opportunity and fortune in America at the
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turn of the century, but also the Jewish experience on New York's East Side as well. Cahan illustrates social attitudes towards poverty, religion, ethnicity and economic status through David's character. Using his situation as an orphan, David accepts pity from those with means. He has an uncanny ability to sense the heart of others and use it to his advantage. It is interesting to watch his rise to wealth over the course of David's lifetime.
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LibraryThing member suesbooks
I found this very interesting, even though we were not provided with a lot of details. I learned about the garment industry and immigration in the early 20th century. I also feel that David Levinsky's psychology was not that different from the feelings of many people of today.
LibraryThing member Opusnight
A fascinating look at the Russian-Jewish emigre experience. We see in David Levinsky the entirety of life in pogrom-riddled, antisemitic 19th century Russia; leaving home for New York; followed by life as an impoverished immigrant struggling to succeed. Cahan's genius lies in his ability to paint
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the picture of life in Manhattan's lower east side and the immigrant experience. Where he falters is in the often-plodding narrative which left me wanting to skip whole pages and move on with the story. Levinsky's story, his rise to wealth at the expense of any values he may have possessed, is the driving force behind the story.
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Original publication date



0061319120 / 9780061319129
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