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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Story of the Jews [DVD]
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2013
If you think this is merely an add-on to the BBC4 series on "The Story of the Jews", think again. It is a serious historical work, and deserves thoughtful study. It shines a fascinating light on the global dispersion, survival and prosperity of Jewish people, which challenges our Western Christian presumption that we possess the moral high ground and the most unfettered access to our God. No-one had pointed out to me the obvious parallels between the basic tenets of early Islam and those of Judaism until Schama did so - and in only one cogent paragraph! I am still digesting this tour de force at leisure; as an Anglican priest it has already affected my view of the Scriptures, and the origins of my faith.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2013
I have been engrossed by Schama's narrative of Jewish history from the very first episode; I'm now looking forward to the final instalment. By far, it's the best documentary that Schama has presented, having viewed his History of Britain series and programmes on Art History. Perhaps, it's because you can tell that he's passionate about his subject through his own Jewish story.

From my own recollection of History at university and watching TV documentary, the study of Jewish history seems to be limited to the context of the Holocaust, neglecting the events leading up to this era and the post-war period. Schama's illuminating series, however, which began with the Ancient past, has so far unearthed the C19th pogroms in Eastern Europe, the segregation of the Jews in Medieval society and the Spanish Inquisition, whilst having explored the cultural contribution of the Jews to both music and film. For anyone interested in social history, however subjective, or, like me, wants to discover more about their Jewish roots, this is an absolute 'must have'.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2014
If you haven't already, by the end of this series how could you not give the Jews one of the greatest stations in human history. While the tribes & people's of the earth have moved, settled & renamed or been renamed many times over throughout history, no matter where a Jew stands in time his home was & will be always be Israel. Schama has done exceedingly well to communicate this & tried to give due time to cover each stage of history he presents, and while I would have loved to have dug deeper into Israel's ancient history more so, the Jews of Elephantine give us wonderful key hole look into such divergent lives. Some of this will not be new to you perhaps, but most I predict will, for I do not think anyone has as thoughtfully rolled such history into such a TV series before, it left me wanting more.......but of course the story of the Jews continues today doesn't it?
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2014
This is probably the best documentary I have ever seen. I am 70 years old, with an MA in English linguistics and literature, and have seen a very large number of productions of this kind over the years. I believe that these two areas of knowledge have made it possible for me to assess 'The Story of the Jews'. Furthermore, I come from the same background as Simon Schama, so I am also able to assess the validity of the material. It is a brilliant production from all possible points of view.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2013
It is one of the best series I've ever watched.Simon Schama is terriific the way he exlpains and puts over the relevent points.If he makes any other series I will definitely watch it.
Well done Simon..
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2013
and having been bored by the first, I now rate Simon Schama's "The Story of the Jews" as one of the most astounding and moving documentaries I've ever seen. As for it's significance, I'd place it up there with "The Nazis, a Warning from History", my gold standard. Schama has been criticised in the past for putting himself centre stage, but in this series, he has every right to do so.

Practically speaking, each episode appears to be a documentary in its own right and the photography of a high standard.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2013
This is an engrossing, informative, superb piece of story telling, interesting for everyone, any religion or none, throwing
light on not only the past but also the present. Schama makes his subjects come alive and comprehensible.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2013
Watched the first two episodes of this on tv and knew I would want to see it again in detail. Loved Schama's history of Britain and this is his history essentially. Great stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2014
These programmes are masterly. From the opening question, "What is a Jew?" you are not only drawn into the story of the 'chosen people' of the Old Testament but, more engagingly, what it meant and still means to be Jewish. Here is the 3,500 year journey from Abraham to modern times, uncovering and exploring the endless layers of artistry, belief, persecution and genius that are tied up in it. Schama is a perceptive historian and narrator, and it is clear from the outset that this story is also his story. He is a man profoundly aware of his roots, able to bring emotional involvement and historical objectivity at the same time. The final programme is almost unbearable as he returns to visit the stetl of his own family in Eastern Europe and the anti-Jewish pogroms that drove them out. Without any hand-wringing Schama communicates the vulnerability and persecution of his people. Whatever your views on modern Israeli issues, here is a set of DVDs that will both inform and deeply move. I watched the original TV series and I have watched this DVD set. I shall undoubtedly watch them again. Highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2013
This is a good overview of the history of the Jews. I was hoping for more of the early history of the Hebrew people but I found Mr Schama's commentary superb and his tour through the History of the Jews after the Fall of Jerusalem excellent. For anyone interested in the background to the present day Israel it is invaluable. As usual the BBC productions are excellent.
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