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History of the Jews - Paul Johnson

Paperback Published: May 2002
ISBN: 9781842124796
Number Of Pages: 656

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The world tended to see the Jews as a race which ruled itself in antiquity and set down its records in the Bible; had then gone underground for many centuries; had emerged at last only to be slaughtered by the Nazis; and, finally had created a state of its own, controversial and beleaguered. But these were merely salient episodes. I wanted to link them together, to find and study the missing portions, assemble them into a whole, and make sense of it Paul Johnson in his Prologue

A sympathetic portrait of Jewish history that is, unavoidably, sometimes idiosyncratic in its selection of material to include or omit; it's also purposefully careful to focus more on external than internal Jewish life. Indeed, the Jews come off here as a focal point of world history, so that all of civilization's story can be told simply by following the course of Jewish history and fully considering its background. Johnson attempts to do that with mixed, though generally good, results. His focus is on the Jewish people's central message - ethical monotheism - and how that message has been heard and accepted, ignored, or increasingly attacked by a hostile world. Johnson does have a sense that the Jews have been one unified people hurtling their way through a tormented history; this misleading sense of oneness is why he consistently and incorrectly calls the Jews a "race." There are many valuable sections of the book. The Biblical section is forthright in its claims that Biblical persons lived, for example. But the strongest part of the book is about the rise of modern Israel. Although the choice of material is even here sometimes arguable, there is no doubt that Johnson captures the spirit of Zionism and explains it with enviable lucidity, care, and depth of feeling. Nor have the extraordinary incidents of Jewish history been robbed of their drama by pedestrian prose. Johnson rises to each occasion as he needs to invoke a setting or a person. A very readable, useful introduction, then, especially to modern Jewish history. (Kirkus Reviews)

ISBN: 9781842124796
ISBN-10: 184212479X
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 656
Published: May 2002
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.7 x 13.7  x 5.3
Weight (kg): 0.81
Edition Number: 3