This is a book that many journalists on The Observer and The Sunday Times must wish they had thought of writing. Rachel Beer’s name has always cropped up in articles about the two papers’ histories as the woman who, however implausible it may sound, edited both at the same time at the turn of the twentieth century before going mad. That, however, was all the information anyone seemed to have. Now, thanks to Yehuda Koren and his partner (‘in life and in work’) Eilat Negev, that is no longer the case. Indeed the authors, both Israeli journalists, have unearthed more material than they can comfortably handle.
At first it seemed strange that the subject should be approached from such an explicitly Jewish angle, but it soon becomes clear that this makes perfect sense. Both Rachel Beer, born a Sassoon and aunt of Siegfried, and her husband, Frederick, came from immensely rich Jewish families –