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The Khazar Empire and Its Heritage [Paperback]

Arthur Koestler
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 1999
This book traces the history of the ancient Khazar Empire, a major but almost forgotten power in Eastern Europe, which in the Dark Ages converted to Judaism. Khazaria was finally wiped out by the forces of Ghengis Khan, but evidence indicates that the Khazars themselves migrated to Poland and formed the cradle of Western Jewry.


Product details

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; 1st American Ed edition (1 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394402847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394402840
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 21.3 x 13.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 243,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whatever happened to the Khazars? 6 April 2010
By Peter Buckley VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Koestler, in The Thirteenth Tribe, traces the history of the ancient Khazar people, related to other Turkish tribes, the Magyars, Huns, and Oghuz, who from around 750AD, in their Caucasian homeland, converted to Judaism. Were they wiped out in the Middle Ages by the Mongol hordes of Gengis Khan sweeping westward at around 1222AD? There is substantial evidence that the majority migrated north and west, primarily to Hungary and Poland. Their influence on European history was considerably greater than their numbers might suggest, as they formed a buffer state between the expanding Islamic empire and Byzantium, and later slowed the southward marauding Viking Rus, who eventually served as the mercenary Varangian Guard in Constantinople. The Khazars, by rejecting Orthodox Christianity and Islam, choosing instead Judaism, did so primarily for political purposes. The reasoning went that the commonality of the Hebrew Scripture's acceptability to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike aided diplomacy and commercial trade.
David Keys, in his book 'Catastrophe', cites the Khazars and their migration as evidence of the widespread displacement of peoples after 536AD, and an explanation of the relatively sudden appearance of the Northern European Jewish (Yiddish speaking) communities.
What implications are there of this theory, in linking the origin of the Northern European Jews, the Ashkenazim, with the migrating Khazars? Zionism was the political Jewish movement that sought a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The United Nations in 1947 partitioned Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. Without commenting on the complex political situation in the modern day Middle East, no nation-state anywhere in the world today depends for its existence upon a genetically pure link with a historical `mother-race'.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book 29 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Until I read this book I was always under the assumption that Jews were a race of Semitic people from the loins of Abraham's second born Issac. It seems there was a race in the Caucuses between the Black sea and the Caspian an area that covered from the Ural mountain to the Volga's known as the Khazars.

Khazaria was a kingdom that chose to convert to Judaism in the hope if staying independent from the rule of Byzantium or Baghdad. They Chose the Jewish faith instead of Christianity or Islam in order to preserve their proud warrior status.

It is amazing how little people know about this race which after the collapse of the kingdom dispersed to Russia and Western Europe, and much of the Jews in USA are from this stock. In fact, it now clear that the invasion of the Holy Lands and in particular Jerusalem is mainly by the non-Semitic Jews of the Khazaria decent
A History of Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From the steppe to the shtetl 22 May 2012
Format:Hardcover
I first bought this book in the late 1970s. Several clear-outs later I came across it again and re-bought it. Often revisiting books is a disappointment, but not in this case. Arthur Koestler produced an accessible, well-written history that flows easily through the often obscure and unfamiliar subject matter.

The Khazarian Empire originated as a collection of Turkic tribes and lasted from the 6th to the 11th centuries in the area that is now southern Russia and the Ukraine. To the south-west was the Byzantine Empire, to the south the Arab Caliphate, to the north and east the pagan tribes and to the west the Slavs, later controlled by the Rus, the southern representatives of the Vikings. Originally shamanistic, the Khazars converted to Judaism, perhaps as a balance to the Christian Byzantines and the Islamic Arabs.

In the west the Khazars founded Kiev, later to taken over by the Rus. In the east they had their capital, Ital, where the Volga flows into the Caspian. They engaged in international trade and were aggressively expansionist. For over a hundred years they fought with Islam, preventing it from reaching eastern Europe. Eventually they were defeated by the Byzantines and Rus in an unholy alliance, with a final coup de grâce given by the Mongol Golden Horde.

THE CHAPTERS The first four chapters describe the rise and fall of the Khazarian Empire. The next four discuss the consequences of this fall, leading to the conclusion that East European Jewry, the Ashkenazim, is substantially of Khazarian origin.

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Shlomo Sand
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The khazar empire 7 Mar 2012
By Urfan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book sucks you right in from the first page with great detail and historical events. Iv'e not finished the book yet but its a must buy for anyone who wants the know the facts about the ancestry of the caucasian jews.
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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
By Carlos
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's an excellent book. I read about the Khazars and their adoption of the Jewish religion long time ago. I always wandered what had happened to them after their empire was shattered. The answer is in the book. Later I also read that some people called the Jews Khazars and I was surprised. Now joining the 2 together the story is clear. The book is logical, easy to read, deeply researched. I recommend it to everyone interested in an exotic, hardly known story of a nation and its survival. The writer was not antisemitic (of Hungarian Jewish origin), but a highly respectable and accepted person in Great Britain. Unfortunately he died in 1983.
Here's his biography and a list of his works: [...]
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