History of the Jews Hardcover – 19 Mar 1987
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A 4000-year history from the House of David until the 1980s. Johnsons enthusiasm and industry are, as usual, prodigious -- Sunday Times
Magisterial and eloquent -- Sunday Times --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
A classic study of the Jews by a best selling author.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The opening chapter, Israelites, follows the Biblical narrative of the founders of the Hebrew nation, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David and Solomon, and then later, at the time of Isaiah, the narrative changes from when the descendants of Abraham became known as Jews, rather than Israelites.
The chapters Cathedocracy and Ghetto follow the story of the Jewish people after the fall of Jerusalem and their attempts to find place in European society. What follows is the story of various expulsions, ranging from the 1492 expulsion from Spain, the persecution under the Spanish Inquisition, and how the general fortunes of the Jewish people could change intermittently, as their rights under their hosts could often be (and were) revoked.
The chapter Emancipation is a general study of Jewish progress in the modern era, with the various Jewish intellectual achievements of the age, such as Freud and Marx (though Johnson makes no attempt to hide his critical attitude toward Marx) and the various Jewish leaders and politicians of the age. Although Theodore Herzl is examined very well, perhaps more background on the founder of modern Zionism could have been given, though the work is more about the movement, rather than the individuals.
A particular strength of Johnson's study is the chapter Holocaust. While this may be very familiar ground for any student of modern history, Johnson has at least covered new ground for this reader. Johnson approaches the infamous crime with a particular question, why did it happen in Germany, the most educated and advanced country in the world? Germany was once a country that had a very good record of treatment of Jews, but this was gradually upturned. Johnson provides a detailed analysis of how Jews were gradually stripped of their rights starting with the 1933 disenfranchisement of most civic rights, and how the moves toward the Final Solution were done in a stealthy manner.
More surprising, however, is the general incredulity of the allies toward what was actually happening. The United States was reluctant to accept Jewish refugees, and Great Britain, perhaps the most philosemitic country in the world at the time, was generally set on continuing Jewish Emigration to Palestine, rather than absorbing an influx of refugees.
The final chapter, Zion, examines the creation of the state of Israel. As a Graduate of International Relations myself, the examination of the partition plan, the six day war, and the 1973 war seemed very familiar, but where Johnson sheds new light is in the dynamics of Israeli politics and society, and how Israel very narrowly avoided becoming a one-party state dominated by the Labour Party.
Johnson also contains additional gems of knowledge such as the various manifestations anti-semitism could take, including the most absurd conspiracy theories (Protocols being one of many), the extent to which they were believed, and the rationale (or lack of) behind them.
The only critique this reader has of Johnson's work is that the general themes of the chapters later in the work seem to overlap. The beginning of the chapter Holocaust appears very clearly as a continuation of Emancipation, and the actual namesake of the chapter is not reached until later on, however with a work this good it is difficult to find fault.
Johnson writes passionately, and not only is his work illuminating and filled with gems of knowledge, it is also immensely readable, and is perhaps, the best single volume work on the history of the Jews available to the general public.
With these caveats, I doubt anyone, Jew or Gentile, would not learn a great deal from this one volume. I know I did. Johnson is intelligent, clear eyed, and creates some wonderful insights into the facts. That Israel today is riven by the same tensions between the worldly (Saul) and the religious (Samuel)is one bold and largely true insight. Johnson is clearly full of praise for the Jews throughout, though he is not sparing in his adept analysis of Jewish self-hatred, as seen in Marx and many other characters. This is due to the astonishing persecution throughout the ages, and the internal fight between the worldly and religious. There is much to think about here and reflect.
Johnson is also unsparing about his views of tormented Israel and the role of the Arabs, Soviet Union and oil money in creating a topsy-turvy image of Zionism as racism. Haven't Jews suffered enough? This is the question asked by the pious Jews who see Israel as man's presumptions over-stepping Gods -no, there is more to come. Though written in 1987, this book has enough bite to be relevant today, and if you have the time, patience and resolve, reading it is well worth while.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
What Paul Johnson does cover he does very well - both on history, and on theology,...Read more
Look for similar items by category