A passionate history of a world unfolding across many continents and five centuries by one of our greatest and internationally bestselling historians.
Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize
Selected as a Book of the Year 2017 by the Daily Telegraph, Mail on Sunday and Observer
Belonging is a magnificent cultural history abundantly alive with energy, character and colour. From the Jews’ expulsion from Spain in 1492 it tells the stories not just of rabbis and philosophers but of a poetess in the ghetto of Venice; a boxer in Georgian England; a general in Ming China; an opera composer in nineteenth-century Germany. The story unfolds in Kerala and Mantua, the starlit hills of Galilee, the rivers of Colombia, the kitchens of Istanbul, the taverns of Ukraine and the mining camps of California. It sails in caravels, rides the stage coaches and the railways; trudges the dawn streets of London, hobbles along with the remnant of Napoleon’s ruined army.
The Jewish story is a history that is about, and for, all of us. And in our own time of anxious arrivals and enforced departures, the Jews’ search for a home is more startlingly resonant than ever.
About the Author
Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. His award-winning books, translated into fifteen languages, include Citizens, Landscape and Memory, Rembrandt's Eyes, A History of Britain, The Power of Art, Rough Crossings, The American Future, The Face of Britain and The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words (1000 BCE - 1492).
His art columns for the New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for criticism and his journalism has appeared regularly in the Guardian and the Financial Times where he is Contributing Editor. He has written and presented more than fifty films for the BBC on subjects as diverse as Tolstoy, American politics, and The Story of the Jews and is co-presenter of a new landmark series on the history of world art, Civilisations.
"A magnificent achievement... [a] parade of bustlingly vital characters from across the globe ... all painted in luminous colour... By offering such a throbbing cavalcade of characters, Schama is defying several key assumptions, even stereotypes, about Jewish history and Jews themselves... Above all, while much Jewish history can read like a sorrowful trudge through disaster, plague and pogrom, Schama's book teems with life rather than death" -- Jonathan Freedland * Guardian *
"Magisterial ... the product of a world-class historian at the peak of his creative powers ... rich, ornate, intensely evocative and sensory. With astonishing range and extraordinary synthesising powers, Schama captures the drama of Jewish history." * Financial Times *
"A rich melody that soars above the ground bass of prejudice and persecution ... Schama has made himself the leading virtuoso of our time. This second volume of this trilogy is an affirmation of faith in the grand narrative ... Its familiar and familial tone proclaims the author's unapologetic mission to play his part in the story of the Jews by bringing their history alive... [A] glittering gemstone of a book" -- Daniel Johnson * The Times *
"So beautifully written it regularly takes your breath away, it is a book far greater than the sum of its parts. Daunted by its colossal size, I started reading with some trepidation; I finished filled with wonder and delight." -- Abigail Green * Times Literary Supplement *
"An extraordinary cultural journey, filled with astonishingly colourful and outrageous characters ... Schama delivers a superb and thrilling ride, both inspirational and tragic." -- Simon Sebag Montefiore * Mail on Sunday *