Harry Golden

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Harry Lewis Golden (May 6, 1902 – October 2, 1981) was a Jewish-American writer and newspaper publisher.

Only in America (1958) paperback

Life and career

Golden was born Herschel Goldhirsch in the shtetl Mikulintsy, Ukraine, then part of Austria-Hungary.[1] His mother was Romanian and his father Austrian.[2]

In 1904 his father, Leib Goldhirsch, emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, only to move the family to New York City the next year. For a time he worked as a newspaper seller on the Lower East Side, and could remember shouting out headlines about the Leo Frank case, which he later wrote a book about.[3] He became a stockbroker but lost his job in the 1929 crash. Convicted of mail fraud, Golden served five years in a Federal prison at Atlanta, Georgia. In 1941, he moved to Charlotte, where, as a reporter for the Charlotte Labor Journal and The Charlotte Observer, he wrote about and spoke out against racial segregation and the Jim Crow laws of the time.[4][5]

1959 essay collection

From 1942 to 1968, Golden published The Carolina Israelite as a forum, not just for his political views (including his satirical "The Vertical Negro Plan",[6][dead link] which involved removing the chairs from any to-be-integrated building, since Southern whites didn't mind standing with blacks, only sitting with them), but also observations and reminiscences of his boyhood in New York's Lower East Side. He traveled widely: in 1960 to speak to Jews in West Germany and again to cover the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel for Life. He is referenced in the lyrics to Phil Ochs' song, "Love Me, I'm a Liberal": "You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden." In 1974, he, William Calley of the My Lai Massacre, and other convicted criminals received a presidential pardon from Richard Nixon.

Calvin Trillin devised the Harry Golden Rule, which states that "in present-day America it's very difficult, when commenting on events of the day, to invent something so bizarre that it might not actually come to pass while your piece is still on the presses."[7]

His books include three collections of essays from the Israelite and a biography of his friend, poet Carl Sandburg. One of those collections, Only in America, was the basis for a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. He also maintained a correspondence with Billy Graham.

Critical attention

Theodore Solotaroff addressed the "Harry Golden phenomenon" in "Harry Golden & the American Audience" in Commentary magazine, March 1961.[1]

Irving Howe compared Philip Roth's early novel Portnoy's Complaint to For 2¢ Plain in a critical review of Roth's novel in Commentary when Complaint was published in 1969.[8]


  • 1944-1968: The Carolina Israelite. (Weekly newspaper published in Charlotte, NC)
  • 1950: (With Martin Rywell) Jews in American History: Their Contributions to the United States of America. (Henry, Martin Lewis Co.)
  • 1955: Jewish Roots in the Carolinas: A Pattern of American Philo-Semitism.
  • 1958: Only in America. (World Publishing Co.) Republished 1972 by World Publishing Co.
  • 1958: For 2¢ Plain. (World Publishing Co.) Republished 1976 by Amereon Ltd., ISBN 0-8488-1015-5.
  • 1960: Enjoy, Enjoy! (World Publishing Co.)
  • 1961: Carl Sandburg. (World Publishing Co.) Republished 1988 by Univ. of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-06006-7.
  • 1962: (Martin Levin, Ed.) Five Boyhoods.
  • 1962: You're Entitle. (World Publishing Co.)
  • 1962: The Harry Golden Omnibus. (Cassell & Co.)
  • 1962: O. Henry Stories. (Platt & Munk) ISBN 0-448-41105-9.
  • 1963: Forgotten Pioneer. (World Publishing Co.)
  • 1964: Mr. Kennedy and the Negroes. (World Publishing Co.)
  • 1964: So What Else is New? (G.P. Putnam's)
  • 1965: A Little Girl is Dead (World Publishing Co., about the Leo Frank case)
  • 1965: Amerikah Sheli (My America). Hebrew. Selections from Only in America and For 2¢ Plain. (Jerusalem: Steimatzky)
  • 1966: Ess, Ess, Mein Kindt (Eat, Eat, My Child). (G.P. Putnam's)
  • 1966: The Lynching of Leo Frank (Cassell & Co., British version of A Little Girl is Dead)
  • 1967: The Best of Harry Golden. (World Publishing Co.)*
  • 1968: The Humor Gazette - Funniest Stories from Country Papers. (Hallmark Editions)
  • 1969: The Right Time: An Autobiography. (G.P. Putnam's)
  • 1970: So Long As You're Healthy. (G.P. Putnam's)
  • 1971: The Israelis: Portrait of a People. (G.P. Putnam's)
  • 1972: The Golden Book of Jewish Humor. (G.P. Putnam's)
  • 1972: The Greatest Jewish City in the World. (Doubleday & Co.)
  • 1973: (With Richard Goldhurst) Travels Through Jewish America. (Doubleday & Co.)
  • 1974: Our Southern Landsmen. (G.P. Putnam's)
  • 1975: Long Live Columbus (Leben Zul Columbus). (G.P. Putnam's) ISBN 0-399-11440-8
  • 1981: (Unfinished) America, I Love You.



  1. 1.0 1.1 "Gale Encyclopedia of Biography: Harry Golden" (2006), answers.com.
  2. Harry Golden (1961-02-05). "What A Country, America!". The Miami News. Retrieved 2009-10-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Golden, Harry The Lynching of Leo Frank
  4. Pressman Fuentes, Sonia, "Harry Golden & the Coat", The Jewish Magazine, October 1998.
  5. "Harry Golden gets a spotlight". The Charlotte Observer. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2015. Golden was a fascinating man who had some rascally ways. He came to the South from New York City after a misadventure landed him in federal prison for five years convicted of mail fraud and stock manipulation.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Levin, Mitchell (2011-10-01). "This Day, October 2, In Jewish History". This Day ... in Jewish History. Retrieved 29 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Winokur, Jon, ed. The Portable Curmudgeon. NAL Books, 1987, p. 79.
  8. Remnick, David, "Into the clear" (profile of Roth), The New Yorker, May 8, 2000, p. 85. Retrieved 2013-03-21.

See also, "Carolina Israelite: How Harry Golden Made Us Care About Jews, the South, and Civil Rights" by Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett, The University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

External links