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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 25 September 2012
This book does not cover everything - but then no work on such a vast topic can.

What Paul Johnson does cover he does very well - both on history, and on theology, philosophy, economics and politics.
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on 11 July 1999
I was seeking a thorough and impartial history of the Jews and this was the wrong book. The author repeatedly states opinion as fact as he praises the Israelites and denigrates the ethics and religion of the Egyptian and other Pagan cultures. His sole reason for declaring the Jews superior to all other cultures is that their beliefs were based on the One True God rather than a "childish" pantheon. He also periodically attempts to demonstrate the validity of various Christian practices and beliefs by showing how Jewish prophecy foreshadows Christ. Incongruous in a history of the Jews? I thought so. Also the way in which Mr. Johnson so easily accuses any ambivalent Jew of "self-hatred". I sought history so that I could make my own decisions, but instead found a morally-simplistic and one-sided Missionary tract.
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on 14 April 2013
It took me a year to read this and I am glad I did. I am a much more informed jewish person as a result! It starts slowly but comes to a momentous climax! One thing of many that I learned (and remembered in this case) was that Zionism was a secular movement. Theodore Herzl had never been in a synagogue before he had to try and get the religious communities on board in order to achieve his aim, which was to escape the horrendous life he and his fellow countrymen were enduring in Tzarist Russia, with it's institutionalized racism in the 1870's.
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on 3 October 2016
Fantastic - so much in there that I didn't have a clue about - shows how ignorance of history drives peoples prejudices.
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on 17 April 2012
I have not finished reading this big ,all embracing, book but so far it promises what I wanted; a comprehensive review of Jewish history going to back to year one.
Not just that but this book explains Jewish philosophy and how it was formulated ,the reasons for their traditions and points of view, there is a lot to it, not a quickie read on the underground!

So far it excellent!
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In this magisterial work, Johnson chronicles the long and bitter path of the Jewish people from the time of Abraham. A thorough and exhaustive work, it explores, amongst other things, monotheism, the concept of the sanctity of life, the Israelite prophets, the birth of Christianity, the Enlightenment, the Holocaust and the establishment of modern Israel.

The narrative is compelling on many levels, as a work of general history, as a tome of metaphysical and philosophical thought and in its discussions of historic personalities. The seven chapters are: Israelites, Judaism, Cathedocracy, Ghetto, Emancipation, Holocaust, and Zion.

The scope of History Of The Jews is too vast and its insights too edifying to be summarized in a short review. To do it justice, it needs a review the size of a small book! The question posed by the author in the Prologue: Is there a providential plan of which we are the agents?, is answered with a resounding yes when one reaches the end.

I enjoyed Part Seven: Zion, the most, as it charts the events leading to the restoration of Israel and this brave little country's survival against impossible odds. Those who do not see a divine hand behind the history of the 20th century must be wilfully blind.

If this were the only book he had written, Paul Johnson would still be a hero and a genius in my eyes. His account of the terrible suffering and the awesome contribution to mankind of the Jewish people will stand the test of time. But history is still being written despite the fatuous title of Fukuyama's famous book. There is hope that God's miracle nation will play a greater and happier part in the future.

This masterpiece concludes with a postscript, a glossary, extensive source notes and a thorough index.
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In this magisterial work, Johnson chronicles the long and bitter path of the Jewish people from the time of Abraham. A thorough and exhaustive work, it explores, amongst other things, monotheism, the concept of the sanctity of life, the Israelite prophets, the birth of Christianity, the Enlightenment, the Holocaust and the establishment of modern Israel.
The narrative is compelling on many levels, as a work of general history, as a tome of metaphysical and philosophical thought and in its discussions of historic personalities. The seven chapters are: Israelites, Judaism, Cathedocracy, Ghetto, Emancipation, Holocaust, and Zion.
The scope of History Of The Jews is too vast and its insights too edifying to be summarized in a short review. To do it justice, it needs a review the size of a small book! The question posed by the author in the Prologue: Is there a providential plan of which we are the agents?, is answered with a resounding yes when one reaches the end.
I enjoyed Part Seven: Zion, the most, as it charts the events leading to the restoration of Israel and this brave little country's survival against impossible odds. Those who do not see a divine hand behind the history of the 20th century must be wilfully blind.
If this were the only book he had written, Paul Johnson would still be a hero and a genius in my eyes. His account of the terrible suffering and the awesome contribution to mankind of the Jewish people will stand the test of time. But history is still being written despite the fatuous title of Fukuyama's famous book. There is hope that God's miracle nation will play a greater and happier part in the future.
This masterpiece concludes with a postscript, a glossary, extensive source notes and a thorough index.
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on 25 June 1998
As a person considering conversion to Judaism my need for a introductory overview was well met by this book. Mr. Johnson writes both clearly and eloquently, yet is never dispassionate about his subject. I particularly found Mr. Johnson's discussion of the evolution of anti-semitism across time and its by- products (such as the Germanic "jewish" sounding surname) to be fascinating.
Overall, this book was wonderful overview to Jewish history and I highly recommend it!
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on 24 January 2016
Excellent
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on 26 November 2011
Paul Johnson is an overt philo-Semite in the book. A very useful attitude when writing a history of the Jews!

From this book we learn that the Jews are indeed an ethnic group on its own and not only followers of Judaism.

We also learn that the Jews were the first ancient people, and not the Greeks, to employ reason (Logos) when attempting to understand reality.

We also learn that the Conversos emigrants from Spain and Portugal converted back to Judaism when they arrived in the Netherlands giving credit thus to the Inquisition's accusation of crypto-Judaism levied at them.

We also learn that there is some truth in the anti-Semitic accusation that a disproportionate number of Jewish entrepreneurs and investors participated in the Scramble for (South) Africa.

We also learn that there is some truth in the anti-Semitic accusation that a disproportionate number of Jews were involved in the Bolshevik regime. The author offers a new expression to describe such Jews: "non-Jew Jews".
He develops further a theory that Marxism was just an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

We also learn that the Zionists Jews were the first people in the Middle East to use terrorism for the advancement of their cause.

I consider that this history of the Jews can stay safely in the library of both philo-Semites and anti-Semites. A fine achievement, indeed!

On a serious note, I consider the book very well written.
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