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Benjamin Disraeli (Jewish Encounters)

Benjamin Disraeli (Jewish Encounters) [Kindle Edition]

Adam Kirsch
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

Part of the Jewish Encounter series

A dandy, a best-selling novelist, and a man of political and sexual intrigue, Benjamin Disraeli was one of the most captivating figures of the nineteenth century. His flirtation with proto-Zionism, his ideas about power and empire, and his fantasies about the Middle East remain prophetically relevant today. How a man who was born a Jew--and who remained in the eyes of his countrymen a member of a despised minority--managed to become prime minister of England seems even today nothing short of miraculous.

In this compelling biography, renowned poet and critic Adam Kirsch looks at Disraeli as a novelist as well as a statesman, recognizing that the outsider Jew who became one of the world's most powerful men was his own greatest character. Though baptized by his father at the age of twelve, Disraeli was seen--and saw himself--as a Jew. But her created an idea of Jewishness to rival the British notion of aristocracy.

Disraeli was a figure of fascinating contradictions: an archconservative who benefited from England's liberal attitudes, a baptized Christian who saw Jewishness as a matter of racial superiority, a perennial outsider who dreamed of glory for England, which, in the words of one contemporary, became for Disraeli "the Israel of his imagination."

From the Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 518 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; 1 edition (2 Sep 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #749,127 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jewish conundrum 21 April 2013
By Debsom
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent book written largely,but not exclusively, from the perspective of Disraeli's relationship with christianity and his jewish ancestry. These 2 factors combined in this book to give a complex perspective the light of day. I hope the author can go deeper into this subject if he has a mind to! I am fascinated by the man Disraeli, and am delighted by seeing so many books coming out about him. He was an enigma, and I love hearing about the history of the times he lived in. This is in marked contrast to my life as an 'A' level history student when I found all such talk 'tedious'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Biography of a very complex man 9 Sep 2008
By Armchair Interviews - Published on
In 1852 Benjamin Disraeli, Chancellor of the Exchequer, posed for a portrait created by Sir Francis Grant. The portrait depicts Disraeli as a young man with full, sensual lips, intelligent black eyes, and thick, dark hair. A detail from the portrait, which illustrates the cover of the new biography, Benjamin Disraeli, by Adam Kirsch, contrasts sharply with a photograph of Disraeli that is also included in the book.

That photograph represents the elder statesman in 1875, a portly gentleman with a receding hairline, his eyes tired yet wise; the corners of his mouth turned slightly upward in a weary smile. The contrasts suggested by these images deftly convey the themes of Kirsch's biography.

Kirsch reveals the complex, contradictory nature of a man born a Jew and raised in the Christian faith, a man who celebrated his Jewish heritage yet refused to join a campaign in 1840 to save Jews in Damascus from government sponsored torture. Liberal in his political outlook, Disraeli was both distrusted and resented by the conservatives in the House of Commons, but indispensable to their cause.

More than fifty biographies have been written about Benjamin Disraeli. Unlike his predecessors, Kirsch focuses his attention, not so much on Disraeli's political career, but on the psychological effects of his Jewish heritage. Kirsch examines how Disraeli and his contemporaries depicted Jews and Judaism in literature, and considers how such representations influenced social behavior and thought during the time of Disraeli's rise to power. Throughout the book, Kirsch provides fascinating details from Jewish history.

Benjamin Disraeli is the tenth book in the Schocken Books/Nextbook "Jewish Encounters" series. An exceptional portrait of an intriguing figure, this book will particularly appeal to those readers interested in studying the history of Jewish thought.

Armchair Interviews says: Most interesting biography.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disraeli yes, biography no! 11 Mar 2009
By Koz - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Disraeli by Kirsch is not a biography. It is a judeo-centric analysis of his political life.Every action is explained as a result of his Jewishness. It is a well-written dissertation, not an enlightening biography. Although it is short it is incredibly repetitive. There is no discussion of his life in the context of the history of the time. This should be your 4th or 5th book on Disraeli not your first. This is the third book I've read in the Jewish Encounters series (Maimonides by Nuland and Wicked Son by Mamet are the others). No more. They have all been lousy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great "one-stop" primer on "Dizzy" 14 Jun 2013
By Robert Tonucci - Published on
Kirsch covers Disraeli's life and political career, with detailed discussion of each of his novels. Kirsch is interested in politics, literature and the Jewish faith, so he is an ideal guide into Disraeli's world. Clocks in at just over 200 pages, giving maximum reward for minimum effort. 'ighly recommend!
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading 19 April 2013
By El Gringo - Published on
Yes, the size of this book is slight compared to 400+ page behemoths that typically crowd the biography shelf. And yes, since this is part of the Jewish Encounters series, Adam Kirsch, the author, spends time discussing Disraeli's thoughts and feelings about being a Jew in Victorian England.

Still if you search for current biographies of Disraeli, you won't find much (at least on this side of the pond).

The book's size makes it ideal for the tote bag or carry-on; and in a day at the beach or a flight across the country a dedicated reader can learn something about and interesting man and his times.
4.0 out of 5 stars Benjamin Disraeli (Jewish Ecounters) 8 Mar 2009
By Carol - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was an excellent book on an interesting character. The first Jewish Prime Minister of Great Britian and how he got there. Anyone interested in the Jewish dimension and how an outsider became the PM of England is fascinating reading.
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Popular Highlights

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In 1290, King Edward I expelled the Jews from England, driving out a community that had long been subject to both popular persecution and royal confiscations. For the next three and a half centuries, there were no Jews in England, &quote;
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He squared this circle by reimagining Jewishness as a matter of race rather than belief. &quote;
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It took Disraeli five tries before he succeeded in getting elected to Parliament; once he did, it was fifteen years before he first held office. &quote;
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