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41 Reviews
5 star:
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5 of 5 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 8 months ago by Prof M. Baum

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19 of 19 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 7 months ago by Deborah H. Maccoby


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53 of 106 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So far so bad..., 14 Sep 2013
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I have just finished reading the first chapter of Simon Schama's "The Story of the Jews". The chapter is entitled "In Egypt" and contains one basic error and a slightly tendentious use of sources, which do not bode well for the rest of the book:

At the beginning of the second paragraph of page 16 of his book Schama writes "(...) the Sabbath is not mentioned in Deuteronomy (...). This error is so crass that it should be spotted by anyone with a basic knowledge of the Five Books of Moses. The Sabbath is mentioned three times in verses 12 - 15 of Chapter 5 of Deuteronomy.

On pages 13 - 14 the chapter Schama refers to the Jewish temple at Elephantine and makes play of the fact that the building of the temple was contrary to prohibitions in the books of Kings and Chronicles. He portrays the temple as a possible act of rebellion for this reason. Schama fails to mention that there were two Jewish temples in Egypt. The first at Elephantine (500 BCE) and the second at Leontopolis (300 BCE). The Mishna refers to the Temple of Onias at Leontopolis and permits a sacrifice vowed in Egypt to be redeemed at Leontopolis. Likewise, a priest, who served at the Egyptian Temple was permitted to eat priestly food in the Temple in Jerusalem (Menahot 13:10). This shows that there was no outright rejection of the Egyptian Temples, in the times of the Mishna and sources from which it was redacted.
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars story of the jews, 2 Oct 2013
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Dr. R. Jameson (Liverpool England) - 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) (Kindle Edition)
Fascinating history with a personal account of a Jewish refugee. At the beginning of the War in the 1940s my father in his war service being fluent in European languages made journeys up the canals of Belgium & Holland; "spies in, Jews out". As a child I met 50 of these refugees so early in life as a Christian had empathy with them. Several of my fellow students in Medical School were Jews, part of a gifted group that with me obtained Honours on graduation and subsequently did well in their profession.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The TV series was fantastic, 23 Jan 2014
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Mr. Paul Jones (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) (Kindle Edition)
I know the author will have done a very capable job on the Jewish history. I bought this to read on my mobile platform.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a present, 15 Jan 2014
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Not read it myself as bought for a present. Looking forward to next half due for publishing soon. Will be buying it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good, 10 Jan 2014
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I chose this rating as I had seen the TV series and wanted to have a copy for my own reference
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to follow, 5 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words (1000 BCE - 1492) (Story of the Jews Vol 1) (Kindle Edition)
I was somewhat disappointed by the book. Given the high profile of the author I had come to expect a very competent and thorough historical account but found myself confused from the first chapter onwards about the direction of the book. Although I appreciate that this is not meant to be popular science or Jews for Dummies the book expects a lot of prior knowledge in several disciplines, unless you want to continuously flick back to the index. I know some of the necessary background but not enough to follow Schama's narrative and train of thought which seemed to jump between tribes, locations, philosophical aspects and other topics.
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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very hard going, 25 Oct 2013
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Very hard going, the book did not have a "flow" to it. I read half way through the first chapter and my head was spinning with names and information. I am not Jewish so perhaps that did not help me understand some of it but I wanted to read and learn about the Jews and their history and I am afraid this book did not do that for me. Perhaps one day I will pick it up and have another go at reading it but I don't this book is for me.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy tome, 7 Dec 2013
By 
Mrs. K. Morley (Leicestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I ordered this book for my husband's 70th birthday as we had enjoyed the series on the TV. However when it arrived (in very good condition' he decided that it was too academic a volume for him to use and I arranged for its return
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Diappointed, 13 Dec 2013
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Should have read the blurb. I wanted the complete history not this early one Did you make it clear? The tv series covered the whole period
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0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's not my 'cup of tea', 5 Dec 2013
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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) (Kindle Edition)
It's not my 'cup of tea', and I should not have bought it. that is absolutely a personal comment and is no reflection on the book.
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