June ’06 in the Exponent: Book Chapters Lead the Newspaper for Months


Starting June 29, 1906, the lead story in the Jewish Exponent was the same for every issue through Oct. 12.

The newspaper began publishing chapters of a book called The Ferry of Fate — and each week ran successive chapters until the tale was concluded. The Exponent’s publishing company even copyrighted the book.

An internet search didn’t turn up much information about the novel (full name: The Ferry of Fate: A Tale of Russian Jewry), although facsimile reprints are available through Amazon and some other providers.

The book was written by Samuel Gordon, who also wrote Sons of the Covenant, Strangers at the Gate and Unto Each Man His Own.

Although his name is lost to history, Gordon was prominent enough to land an obituary from JTA when he died in 1927 at the age of 56.

JTA noted that Gordon was born in Buk, Germany in 1871, immigrated to England with his parents 12 years later and was educated at both the City of London School and Cambridge University.

As a writer, his works “dealt almost wholly with Jewish life and character.” Aside from working as a novelist, he was a playwright, most notably with The Way Back.

The Ferry of Fate did receive a middling and rather insulting review in 1906 from the United Kingdom publication The Spectator.

“Readers who are interested in the Jews in Russia should certainly read this book, although they will not find it very pleasant literature. The book is written, of course, from the point of view of the Jews, and no allowance is made for any natural irritation which their characteristics as a race may have produced in the minds of the Russians,” the paper wrote.


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