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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whatever happened to the Khazars?
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...
Published on 6 April 2010 by Peter Buckley

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7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wild hypothesis
In the light of the other reviews, it's important to mention that this book advances a controversial and implausible theory which is at odds with all other serious research on Jewish history. The Khazars are a very interesting historical phenomenon and the book is of interest where it covers this history. However, there is no mystery whatsoever as to how Ashkenazi Jews...
Published on 29 Oct 2010 by P A Marshall


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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whatever happened to the Khazars?, 6 April 2010
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Peter Buckley "peter15115" (Dyfed, Wales) - See all my reviews
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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'. Ironically, such a concept we normally might associate with Nazism.
Koestler sums up his argument by claiming the philosophical, artistic and scientific achievements of individual Jews consist of contributions to the culture of their host nations; they do not represent a common cultural inheritance, or autonomous body of traditions. At first, this seemed at odds with the spirit of the major Jewish writers of the twentieth century. Koestler argues that Jews of the Diaspora, at least in the present day, have little in common except a religion the majority do not practice or believe in, and the shared trauma of the Holocaust, the effect of which can only lessen in the future. The national identity of Israel, then does not depend on the European heritage that originated in Khazaria.
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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
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DMJ MIAH (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tribe: Khazar Empire and Its Heritage (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 grāce 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.

SELECTED LINKS
Shlomo Sand The Invention of the Jewish People
Kevin Allan Brook The Jews of Khazaria
Paul Wexler The Ashkenazic Jews
Dunlop D.M. The history of the Jewish Khazars
Toynbee Constantine Porphyrogenitus and His World
Constantine Porphyrogenitus De Administrando Imperio
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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
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Arthur Koestler's logical and deeply researched book, 30 April 2008
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Khazar's who are they?, 7 July 2014
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This information is very important in showing how the past impacts on the future in ways that you never thought possible. For eons tribes with long forgotten names have invaded and expanded into other areas. It is important to understand certain groups of people changed their religion to avoid being conquered and sharing their territories with other neighbouring districts who were encroaching on their boarders. By the Khazars converting to the Hebrew faith they avoided converging with the 2 most dominant religions at the time, Christianity and Islam. This book may require some study as it constructs the layout and design in a slow manner so that a full understanding is attained. It is interesting to note that the author Arthur Koestler was ostracised from the Jewish community after this publication and died in a car crash at the height of this published material.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 13th tribe, 19 Sep 2011
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L. M. Van Bokkel (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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Very interesting book and a very interesting thesis. For me there was a bit of too much ancient history in it, but then again you need it to understand the 2nd part of the book. Worth reading, worth buying. Great deal. Thanks.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden History revealed, 13 Dec 2010
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This important book and it's successor books are very important for us to understand how nations evolved to what they are today even if it contradicts a status quo for nation building in the Middle East. The book explains well that the Ashkenazi Jews who are the Majority of world Jewry today (87-90%) are not descended from the original Semitic Jews but from a Magyar Kingdom who in the 9th Century converted to Judaism for political reasons and founded a great Kingdom in the Crimea before being driven deeper in to Europe where they founded flourishing communities by the Mongol invaders who destroyed their Kingdom. Long black hats and coats, the Yiddish language and other typical Jewish images are firmly European especially Magyar and have no traces direct or indirect to the Middle East. The remaining Sephardic Jews do however have a historical and legitamite claim to a state in Palestine and are descended from the original Jews a present day remnant of the Aramaen people's. This challenges and contradicts Zionist ideology and puts the West's position of Sensitive History and current day Politics in to uncertainty challenging a claim to Palestine and the national character and heritage of Israel and for the West to write the wrong's of the guilt of the Second world war and deal with the challenging problems of the Middle East.
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7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wild hypothesis, 29 Oct 2010
In the light of the other reviews, it's important to mention that this book advances a controversial and implausible theory which is at odds with all other serious research on Jewish history. The Khazars are a very interesting historical phenomenon and the book is of interest where it covers this history. However, there is no mystery whatsoever as to how Ashkenazi Jews came to be in Eastern Europe: they migrated from German speaking lands, and spoke Yiddish, a German variant. These migration patterns are thoroughly documented. After suffering oppression in central Europe, they were initially welcomed in large numbers into Poland by Boleslav the Pious in the thirteenth century and again, in even greater numbers, by his successor Casimir the Great. From there, they spread north to Lithuania and south into the Ukraine. There's no mystery. There are some very small groups of Jews remaining in the area of the Caucuses who may well be descended from the Khazars, ie Daghestani (or "Mountain") Jews, and Georgian Jews.
The hypothesis advanced in this book cannot be substantiated, and the theories of racial descent are disturbing, but it tells an interesting story.
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The Thirteenth Tribe: Khazar Empire and Its Heritage
The Thirteenth Tribe: Khazar Empire and Its Heritage by Arthur Koestler (Hardcover - 5 April 1976)
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