My American Dream and How It Ended

Non-Fiction - Memoir
248 Pages
Reviewed on 12/06/2017
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Author Biography

Robert Goodman was born and raised in Beverly Hills, California. He earned a BA from the University of Southern California and a Phd from UCLA. He taught political science at the University of Southern California and philosophy at the University of Haifa. He and his family moved to Israel in 1973. He has written/edited books in the social sciences and philosophy. He and his wife reside in Herzliya Israel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Kayti Nika Raet for Readers' Favorite

My American Dream and How it Ended is a memoir by Robert Goodman detailing his life growing up in a middle class family in  Beverly Hills during the 1940s and 1950s. Goodman details a modest home life and explores how his parents' childhood and Jewish heritage shaped them as parents and, in turn, shaped him. The first few chapters focus on the early years of his life and his childhood, nurtured in a world of conservative values and the belief in all that America had to offer, as well as the optimism for social change as things moved into the sixties. With that as a backdrop, Goodman also details the blossoming romance with his first wife as he struggled to figure out the career path that was right for him. Eventually, it culminates in marriage and a move to Israel in the early 1970s.

A highly personal story, My American Dream and How it Ended by Robert Goodman still achieves the difficult task of being a universal tale of coming of age and finding oneself. Goodman manages to be both personable and personal and doesn't shy away from the less kind aspect of his life, telling things as they happened as well as giving insight as to why things turned out the way they did. I enjoyed this look back at an era which, while simpler in terms of technology, still has many relevant social issues today. It is also a great read for anyone looking for a glimpse of the Jewish experience in mid century America, as well as during the early days of modern Israel.

Jack Magnus

My American Dream and How It Ended is a nonfiction memoir written by Robert Goodman. While Goodman spent his early years growing up in Beverly Hills, California, in the late 1940s when his parents moved there that locale was not the enclave of the wealthy and powerful most think of when they think of that town. His parents were in their mid-twenties when they moved there after his father was recommended for a job in Hollywood. Both of them were from lower-middle-class families, and only his mother’s brother, Joe, had gone to college. While his dad easily gravitated to the sunny skies and open-air feeling of Los Angeles, his mother never did get over the loss of her tightly knit family and neighbors in Cleveland. As a homemaker, she couldn’t help but feel the loss of her friends and support system.

Goodman grew up in his ebullient father’s shadow. The man instilled in his son a love of all things sporting, and the two spent many happy hours watching baseball games. Goodman himself became active in sports throughout his school years. After graduation, he attended USC where, despite his father’s urgings to major in Business Administration, he took a course in political science and decided to major in that field. Goodman and his wife were active in Democratic causes, particularly in Robert Kennedy’s campaign, and were rocked by the assassinations of Kennedy and his brother.

Robert Goodman’s nonfiction memoir, My American Dream and How It Ended, is a well-written and engaging autobiographical account. Like many others, I automatically wondered how anyone who had grown up in Beverly Hills could have had issues, but soon found myself enjoying Goodman’s stories about growing up in a totally different version of Beverly Hills. The author’s accounts of his studies at USC, UCLA and UC Berkeley are fascinating, and the description of his emigration to Israel and his life there had me Googling for more information on that country. What is the 'American Dream' at this point in time? Goodman admirably sets out his own interpretation of that dream and how it changed with time. My American Dream and How It Ended is most highly recommended.

Maria Beltran

My American Dream and How It Ended by Robert Goodman is an interesting and honest to goodness memoir. Born in Cleveland and raised in Los Angeles in the 1940s, the author lets us experience the American dream during this period. As a boy, he lives on the fringe of Hollywood, with an outgoing father who worked there, and an unhappy mother who will never feel that she belongs to the society around her. Although of Jewish ancestry, the Goodmans are not particularly religious. In 1960, Robert eventually becomes a teacher and is accepted at a doctoral program for political science at UCLA. It is during this time in his life that he meets the woman who will forever change the direction of his life, and his dreams.

Robert Goodman's My American Dream and How It Ended brings back the turbulent 1960s and it is an insightful read. Narrated in a matter of fact tone, Goodman certainly is not prone to exaggeration and this makes his story quite credible. And as he seeks his dream and to find his place under the sun, so to speak, it is difficult not to be drawn into his life story. My American Dream and How It Ended concludes in the most unexpected way and this highlights the paradox that is called life. And the fact that, perhaps, the only thing that we can do is to make the best out of it. You see, this story is quite effective because it makes us look at our own experiences too.