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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only I'd been taught history like this as a school boy
I thought the television version of the Story of the Jews was remarkable but I now realise it simply scratched the surface of the subject.
Simon Schama makes his fun and easy to read. His powerful narrative drive, the frequent comical asides and the extraordinary scholarship of his work make the book unputdownable. As a Jew I thought I knew the story of my people but...
Published 13 months ago by Prof M. Baum

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good on Images but Words Sometimes Fail
"The Story of the Jews" (of which only volume 1 has so far appeared; volume 2 will come out in September) was conceived simultaneously as a TV series and a book, and the book is actually based upon the TV series.

This combination of the visual image and the printed word works excellently in relation to the central theme that the true and eternal homeland of the...
Published 12 months ago by Deborah H. Maccoby


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars but yes, 23 Feb. 2014
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Ibola Knill (Leeds. UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words (1000 BCE - 1492) (Story of the Jews Vol 1) (Hardcover)
Erudite, yet easy to read - some really, really interesting bits I was not aware of [ but no reason why I should have been except that I have incurable curiosity ], am looking forward to the next book - but with some dread - and, perhaps, there should be a third one - looking forward to the future?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST read, 5 Feb. 2014
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A fantastic and well written book. Great learning and communication. It brings together so amny strands. Sufficiently compelling to be a 'stright through' read. I can't wait for the second volume
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid read, 24 Jan. 2014
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Professor M. A. Green (Leeds UK) - See all my reviews
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Excellent academic piece,, Rather heavy going. Best to read it in conjunction with his DVDs of the TV series. good value
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some powerful story, 24 Jan. 2014
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The standard narrative, known throughout the Western World at least, is based on the New Testament. Schama tells of an energetic Diaspora, from North Africa to Baghdad, with flourishing communities, whose cultures contribute much more to the modern Jews, than the Temple practice of the Jews known to the Romans.
Quite different to the current received wisdom and essential for understanding Jews and Judaism today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just the TV series again, 23 Jan. 2014
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Mr. Ronald Gerard (Totteridge, London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I was expecting the TV series but with a bit more detail. However, it's a scholarly history book - but interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Good reading.Quite inspiring., 8 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words (1000 BCE - 1492) (Story of the Jews Vol 1) (Hardcover)
Yes I am reading it slowly,There is great story too tell a story like no other about an epic of endurance against oppression
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, 4 Jan. 2014
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Excellent book, well written, researched and gives food for thought. Simon Sharma as always writes with care and attention to detail
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Partial History of the Jews, 16 Oct. 2013
By 
Robert Feather (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words (1000 BCE - 1492) (Story of the Jews Vol 1) (Hardcover)
My first thoughts on hearing about Simon Sharma's proposed project were: Oh no, why do we need yet another gargantuan view of Jewish history? Nevertheless within the confines of five 1-hour television programmes and a 473 page book it is a brave attempt. My real criticisms are that, perhaps because of these limitations of time and space, Sharma rarely follows through on the extremely interesting topics he embraces. This made the series compulsive but very frustrating.

For, instance, he starts off by viewing Sigmund Freud's work on Moses, but completely fails to explain that the central theme and conclusion of Freud's work, which he laboured on from the 1930 to the 1950s was his conviction that Moses was associated with an 18th Dynasty Pharaoh and that the Hebrew story was intimately connected to this period of Egyptian history. Pharaoh Akhenaton is completely absent from the TV documentaries and hardly gets a mention in Sharma's book, The Story of the Jews, and even there he is mislabelled as `the leader of an exclusive cult of a single sun-god...' It is quite wrong to dismiss this period as one of sun worship. From what we know of Akhenaton's true beliefs he thought of an abstract invisible all- powerful God he knew as the Aton; which when you consider the letters T and D in Egyptian pronunciation are interchangeable, gives God's name as Adon - the same as the Hebrew rendering. Freud recognised this critically important fact.

When it comes to the Exodus, we find Moses looking out over the wonderful vista of Canaan, apparently some 3,500 years ago. Some of the photography and scenery and sites in the documentary are almost worth viewing in their own right. However, in the light of modern scholarship we know that the Exodus took place in the 12th century BCE, much later than Sharma posits. He also thinks:"No evidence outside the Hebrew Bible exists to make the exodus and the law giving dependably historical..." As `Where Moses Stood' reveals this assumption is quite wrong. There is hard inscriptional evidence for the Exodus and the location of the law giving.

Sharma next moves on to look at the aberrational community he refers to as a military Jewish colony in southern most Egypt, that he says came there in the 7th century BCE. Whilst some other scholars use the same terms and dating, Professor Bezalel Porten, who is a pioneering expert on Elephantine settlement, refrains from calling the people on the island Jews and now maintains they were essentially Aramaen and we "just don't know where they came from or when they arrived." Sharma skims through this extraordinary story but fails to ask the questions, why did they go there, why did they have such different versions of belief from those in Judaea. He is also quite wrong when he says: "The only literature found in the archive (of aramaic letters form Elephantine, some of which are now in the Brooklyn Museum, New York) was the `Book of Wisdom', the words of Ahiqar." There was another entitled the words of `Bisutun', found in 1906, which is also a story of wisdom instructions. There is nothing in the Aramaic Letters from Elephantine about military activity and no evidence of soldiers or mercenaries has been found at the site of the Aramaic Settlement.

The acid test as to the origins of this Settlement is that they followed an Egyptian law system, and worshipped Jahu and at least two other gods. It is self-evident that they did not know the Ten Commandments (or the Torah) which forbids worship of more than one God, because they had never left Egypt.

Apart form the inaccuracies in this early chronicle of Israel those on more modern times are far from complete. One hopes the second book in the series will make amends in these deficiencies.

This is only a partial review as to do justice to the entire work would take a book in itself.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Inaccurate content but interesting, 16 Nov. 2014
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Greatings and with many thanks more to the customer reviews other than the content of the book itself, I am more able to make a more appropriate desicion and response during light study on - a- the subject, and book.
I have been able to find out too that the book does indeed have information that is not correct. From now on I'll make sure to really look into the book and author of any history subject before I choose to purchase it. Otherwise, this book in general is interesting considering it's inaccrecies (however you spell that word again).
Thank you again to you the customer reviews.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 10 Jan. 2015
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The book uses some interesting examples to illustrate the history of the Jews. Many of the examples I did not know. In some cases I found this this both interesting and informative in others I am afraid I did not.

This book is well written.

The extent of the Jewish Faith not only to survive but also to benefit mankind is a wonder in itself.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to gain some insight into the suffering of a religion a the admirable determination of people to defy the acceptance of the easy option.
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The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words (1000 BCE - 1492) (Story of the Jews Vol 1)
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