Books: How Do You Do?

THE OLD COUNTRY (434 pp.)—Sholom Aleichem (translated by Julius and Frances Butwin)—Crown ($3).

Ben Hecht calls Solomon Rabinowitch "the greatest humorist the Jews ever produced." Rabinowitch was born in Pereyaslav, the Ukraine, in 1859. In his father's inn Sol grew from boyhood to manhood—and observed the customers. At 23, he began to write—about the customers—for Hamelitz, a Jewish periodical. He took the pen name Sholom Aleichem, the Jewish equivalent of "How do you do?", and turned out copy like a mimeograph.

In 1905, when the Kiev massacres drove him from Russia (with his wife and six children), he found that fame had preceded...