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Herzl: Theodor Herzl and the Foundation of the Jewish State Paperback – 6 Nov 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (6 Nov. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780224559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780224558
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 478,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Turning the idea of Jewish nationhood into an organised movement was Herzl's work of genius, which is expounded by Avineri with scholarship, sensitivity and wisdom. (Oliver Kamm The JC.COM)

How Herzl conjured up the idea of a Jewish state out of the air is the subject of this book. It is a political biography; of Herzl's family life, his loves and his hatreds we learn little. With almost nothing but his will, he wrote, cajoled, talked and organised Zionism into existence. Between 1895 and 1897, in two short years, he provided the movement with its key text (Der Judenstaat), its destination (Palestine) and its organisational birth (the first Zionist Congress in Basle). Then he hawed his ideas around the leaders of Europe, to see if he could make a reality from the dream. These unlikely peregrinations are captured perfectly by Avineri. Without them there would have been no Israel. (David Aaronovitch THE TIMES)

The great strength of Avineri's immensely readable biography is to deliver Herzl in all his tortured complexity and - something not always given its due - the philosophical clarity of his diagnosis of what had befallen the Jews in the modern age and what might be done about their predicament. He had the beard of a poet but a brain for realpolitik. As one might expect from Avineri, who is first and foremost a powerful historian of political thought, this is the most chewily cogent account yet of Herzl the political thinker and doer. (Simon Schama FINANCIAL TIMES)

What...Shlomo Avineri, a professor of political sciences at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, offers is a different perspective on Herzl's life. Professor Avineri largely relies on Herzl's own writings, especially his obsessively written diary, rather than so much on secondary sources as many other books do. This device has the advantage of explaining Herzl's thoughts, as well as his actions. (Alistair Dawber THE INDEPENDENT)

It was Austrian politics, not a French miscarriage of justice [the Dreyfuss case], which moved Herzl towards Jewish separatism, Avineri explains, with a rather more complex story than the one the professor tells us is taught to Israeli schoolchildren. Political liberalism had ended official anti-Jewish discrimination in Austria and widened the franchise; but, to the horror of liberals like Herzl, anti-Semitic demagogues were elected. It seemed that the more democratic Austrian society was, the more anti-Semitic it became. (Jad Adams SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Magnificent (Daniel Johnson STANDPOINT)

This Herzl remains a charismatic figure whose story is a romance. And so, in some measure, it should be, because that is how Herzl functioned and why he succeeded. He combined Disraeli's charm and political genius, Marx's analytical insight, and the towering authority of his people's lawgiver, Moses. (Bernard Wasserstein THE TABLET)

In this book Avineri has reclaimed Herzl from the propagandists. (Colin Shindler HISTORY TODAY)

Herzl [is telling] the story of Zionism from the beginning, one of the strangest, most romantic, most bewildering episodes in modern history, and to this day one of the most bitterly contentious. (Geoffrey Wheatcroft THE SPECTATOR)

Herzl is an excellent biography of a great man and as such long overdue. (Lord Mitchell THE HOUSE)

What Avineri gives us is a fine-grained and tender portrait of the Hungarian-born Herzl as a feverish romantic, dodgy dramatist, prolific writer and political organizer, a vibrant man whose energy and devotion to finding a national solution for a Jewish state were palpable and exhausting. (Duncan Kelly TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)

Avineri rightly sums up Herzl's work as a 'glorious failure that produced impressive results'. It is Avineri's understanding of the exigencies and difficulties of politics for a mere private individual, without money or official status that makes this book well worth reading. (ANGLO-ISRAEL ASSOCIATION)

Book Description

The first biography in more than a generation of the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the state of Israel.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The forefather for the modern Zionist movement, his short career was less than nine years as he died in 1904. Avineri’s book seeks to analyse Herzl’s works in the form of diaries and looks at the successive diplomatic innuendos that followed. The author shows that Herzl slowly realised that anti-Semitism was not a remnant of feudal belief but “a product of the Enlightenment itself”, and made newly proper by the biological and anthropological sciences. Scholarly anti-Semites like Eugen Dühring took old myths and rationalized them. Jews were not now said to be stealing Christian children; rather, they were taking Christian capital (giving an idea of what mattered most in the 19th century).

This is a reasonable well researched piece of academic work that is still very readable to the layperson. However, while Avineri’s looks at certain aspects i.e. the political and diplomatic nature of Herzl - there is little said about his wife and family and Herzl’s other predilections that would have given a more rounded and balanced view of this enigmatic character.
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By canonsnapper on 19 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Too much extraneous information, too little about Herzl himself.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Conrad Sandler on 24 April 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book which was basically an analysis of Herzl's diaries and mindset was to me an answer to many questions. People who are friends or foes of the modern state of Israel should read it to get an understanding of the imperative that this man saw before others of how nationhood has to be built before it can be attained.
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By Vicki Harris on 14 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Very good
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
When speaking to the richest man in the world, he said to him, “You are the great Jew of money; I am the Jew of the spirit.” 12 Mar. 2014
By Susman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
The forefather for the modern Zionist movement, his short career was less than nine years as he died in 1904. Avineri’s book seeks to analyse Herzl’s works in the form of diaries and looks at the successive diplomatic innuendos that followed. The author shows that Herzl slowly realised that anti-Semitism was not a remnant of feudal belief but “a product of the Enlightenment itself”, and made newly proper by the biological and anthropological sciences. Scholarly anti-Semites like Eugen Dühring took old myths and rationalized them. Jews were not now said to be stealing Christian children; rather, they were taking Christian capital (giving an idea of what mattered most in the 19th century).

This is a reasonable well researched piece of academic work that is still very readable to the layperson. However, while Avineri’s looks at certain aspects i.e. the political and diplomatic nature of Herzl - there is little said about his wife and family and Herzl’s other predilections that would have given a more rounded and balanced view of this enigmatic character.
Fascinating Reading 31 Mar. 2014
By Odelew - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fascinating biography that clearly demonstrates the difference between history and propaganda because it's about the man, not the icon
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