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The Story of the Jews Finding the Words 1000 BC - 1492 AD by Simon Schama 2014
In this magnificently illustrated cultural history¡ªthe tie-in to the PBS and BBC series The Story of the Jews¡ªSimon Schama details the story of the Jewish experience, tracing it across three millennia, from their beginnings as an ancient tribal people to the opening of the New World in 1492 to the modern day.
It is a story like no other: an epic of endurance against destruction, of creativity in oppression, joy amidst grief, the affirmation of life against the steepest of odds.
It spans the millennia and the continents¡ªfrom India to Andalusia and from the bazaars of Cairo to the streets of Oxford. It takes you to unimagined places: to a Jewish kingdom in the mountains of southern Arabia; a Syrian synagogue glowing with radiant wall paintings; the palm groves of the Jewish dead in the Roman catacombs. And its voices ring loud and clear, from the severities and ecstasies of the Bible writers to the love poems of wine bibbers in a garden in Muslim Spain.
In The Story of the Jews, the Talmud burns in the streets of Paris, massed gibbets hang over the streets of medieval London, a Majorcan illuminator redraws the world; candles are lit, chants are sung, mules are packed, ships loaded with spice and gems founder at sea.
And a great story unfolds. Not¡ªas often imagined¡ªof a culture apart, but of a Jewish world immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have dwelled, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, from the Arabs to the Christians.
Which makes the story of the Jews everyone's story, too
*Starred Review* Schama is a professor at Columbia University, an award-winning author of history and art books, and a writer and producer of acclaimed television documentaries. This is the first of a planned two-volume work, and it covers the development of Judaism and the Jewish people from their first stirring of a sense of a national identity up to the expulsion of Jews from Spain. Schama has written an unconventional but masterful and deeply felt history of his people, which seamlessly integrates themes of art, religion, and ethnicity as he illustrates how Jews both influenced and were influenced by the other people they lived among for more than 1,500 years. While Schama follows a roughly chronological approach, this is not a strictly narrative account. Rather, he focuses on particular topics to define the essence of a particular period, and he does so by examining literary and archaeological remnants that provide a human and often deeply moving touch. A letter from a Jewish mercenary in Egypt illustrates the paradox of a Jewish ¡°return¡± to the land of their enslavement. The writings of a poet in eleventh-century Granada convey both the benefits and difficulties of Jewish life in a Muslim state. This beautifully written chronicle is a tie-in to an upcoming PBS series. --Jay Freeman
¡°Award-winning Columbia University historian Schama . . . brings to bear his gift for synthesizing mountains of information into a well-crafted, accessible narrative in this impressive volume that spans nearly 2,500 years and serves as a companion volume to a PBS series.¡± (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
¡°A multifaceted story artfully woven by an expert historian.¡± (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
¡°Schama has written an unconventional but masterful and deeply felt history of his people¡¡± (Booklist (starred review))
¡°Mr. Schama¡¯s The Story of the Jews is exemplary popular history. It¡¯s engaged, literate, alert to recent scholarship and, at moments, winningly personal.¡± (New York Times)
¡°In his brilliant new history of the Jews, the unconventional scholar somehow manages to be simultaneously sentimental and subversive, consensual and contrarian - and we readers are the beneficiaries.¡± (Haaretz (English edition))
¡°Mr. Schama¡¯s history flashes by with entertaining velocity¡¡± (Wall Street Journal)
¡°An energetic cascade of prose and erudition, rife with pointillist detail and witty colloquialisms¡¡± (Chicago Tribune, Printers Row)
¡°Schama writes history from below, and from the middle and other unexpected angles, resurrecting the unrecorded and long-forgotten, and analyzing the social and cultural forces that shaped his subjects¡¯ lives¡ [he] has pulled it off with opinionated flair and literary grace.¡± (New York Times Book Review)
¡°Stirring and fascinating¡± (Los Angeles Times)
¡°Schama is a historian of prodigious and varied gifts. He can take a specific subject and drill deep; he can take a wide-angled view of many countries over long periods of time. He does both in this excellent first volume¡ Revealing and moving.¡± (San Francisco Chronicle)
¡°Reading Schama is like sitting across from the world¡¯s most dazzling dinner party guest¡¡± (Seattle Times)
¡°The story that Schama tells is wide-ranging, well documented, delightful, amusing, personal, and inspring¡¡± (New York Review of Books)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#110,414 in Books
#71 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > History
#89 in Books > History > World > Religious > Judaism
#351 in Books > History > World > Jewish
Simon Schama is a professor of art history and history at Columbia University, and is the author of numerous award-winning books; his most recent history, Rough Crossings, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. He is a cultural essayist for the New Yorker and has written and presented more than thirty documentaries for the BBC, PBS, and the History Channel, including The Power of Art, which won the 2007 International Emmy for Best Arts Programming.