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Jacob's Gift: A Journey into the Heart of Belonging [Paperback]

Jonathan Freedland
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 May 2006
Jonathan Freedland and his son Jacob are the fourth and fifth generation of Jewish immigrants who came from Eastern Europe to Britain to carve a new life for themselves. In Jacob's Gift, Freedland delves deep into his family history to discover what brought his ancestors to Britain and what they found when they got there. The result is a wonderful family memoir, and a profound meditation on roots, identity and the perennial need to belong.

Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (25 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141014911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141014913
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jonathan Freedland is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster. He has been a columnist at the Guardian since 1997 and was named Columnist of the Year in the 2002 What the Papers Say awards. His first book, Bring Home the Revolution, was published in 1988.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Jacob was, if anything, too eager to see the world. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant tale. 27 Dec 2006
By Sc0tty
This a gripping tale of a number of Mr Freeland's antecedents.

Their stories are interwoven with some of the key events of the Twentieth Century.

The lives portrayed are both inspirational and at the same time a sad reflection on the shallow and cynical world in which we find ourselves today.

However I feel there is one minor fault, which is the final chapter. I find this an unconvincing attempt to rationalise the conflicts of his Jewish (largely secular) identity and the world of progressive/socialist thought to which the rest of his identity belongs.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars moving 23 Feb 2005
By A Customer
this is a great book. it is about mr freedland's search for his identity as a jewish person who half admires and also despises all israel stands for. confusing this would be in the hands of a lesser writer. mr freedland pulls it off thanks to his brilliant mind and awesome someone who has had doubts about israel in the past this book puts the case well for israel. i for one am now convinced.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A history of a family and a people..... 12 Sep 2013
This is not a book I would have chosen to read - it was a Book Group selection. Jonathan Freedland explores his Jewish heritage and offers it as a gift to his young son. He does this by focusing on specific relatives and trying to relate the history of the Jewish people through them. Nat Mindel (his great-great uncle) is a curiously ambiguous figure. He is proud of his acquired British citizenship and is a willing servant of the British Empire but he manages to combine this with his Zionist tendencies. His uncle Mick is also a larger-than-life character full of revolutionary zeal as he tries to organise the sweat-shop workers of the East End. But none of his forebears are seen through rose-tinted spectacles - Freedland describes them with affection but is unafraid to describe their flaws.

The most interesting story he tells is that of his mother Sarah Hocherman - what an amazing life. Her story could have been a book in its own right.

Apart from recording tales of his family Freedland explores other facets of Judaism - its long history, its traditions and its inconsistencies. The mention of the genetic/DNA background of the various Jewish peoples was fascinating (and could have been expanded). He tries to take a dispassionate look at all the issues - he is clearly uncomfortable about some actions carried out in the cause of Zionism and even looks into some of the causes of anti-semitism.

Jacob's Gift is well researched and written in an easy novelistic style. The family tree at the beginning was helpful - but I would have liked some dates to have been included.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jacob's Gift 23 Sep 2006
Jonathan Freedland who sets out to discover his Jewish roots narrates this history story. It concentrates on three members of his family, Great Uncle Nat who was recruited to the service of His Majesty the King early in the 20th Century, Uncle Mick a life long communist and anti-fascist, and lastly his mother Sara Hocherman who for me was the most interesting character of the book. I found this book difficult to follow at times but was pleased i persevered as it answers many questions i had about Jewish history. Wrapped amongst the history i felt there was a story of love, despair and hope. I would recommend this book especially for a reading group as it provokes alot of discussion.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pride and Challenges of Jewish identity. 25 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved reading this book, and found its style eminently direct ; it was moving and beautifully expressed with honesty, admitting the
doubts and questions that many of our contemporaries face .At the same time I felt that this man in in the real world and the fact that he relates the Jewish history so clearly made me want to pass this copy on to my grandchildren .I recommend this as it is so readable. I still have the hardback!
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