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A History of the Jews

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Home » Books » History » Jewish

A History of the Jews

By Paul Johnson

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Format: Paperback / softback, 656 pages
Other Information: glossary, bibliography, index
Published In: United States, 31 October 1991
A brilliant and comprehensive one-volume survey covering 4,000 years of Jewish history and the impact of Jewish genius and imagination on the world. "An absorbing, provocative, well-written, often moving book."-- "Christian Science Monitor" "An extraordinary amount of useful information." "--New York Review of Books"

Reviews

Famous author-historian Johnson ( Modern Times, LJ 5/1/83; A History of Christianity, LJ 7/76) presents a provocative history of the Jewish people, religion, and culture from earliest times to the present. Astutely divided into seven sections, (Israelites, Judaism, Cathedocracy, Ghetto, Emancipation, Holocaust, and Zion), the work describes the complex interplay between Jewish and world history and shows how the course of Western civilization has been immensely influenced by this numerically small group. It's no mean feat to successfully compress 4000 years of history into 645 pages, but Johnson has more than met the challenge. Despite a few reservationsE. G. Johnson's theories regarding Jesus and the incipient Christian movement are debatablethis is an excellent, nonscholarly history for general readers. Highly recommended for public libraries. Robert A. Silver, Shaker Heights P.L., Ohio

Less a seminal contribution than a distillation of a wide range of sources, this history of the Jews focuses on their four-millennia interplay with, and adaption to, other, often hostile, civilizationsa ``world history seen from the viewpoint of a learned and intelligent victim.'' Weaving biblical and archeological data, Johnson (Modern Times and A History of Christianity is particularly deft at placing the patriarchs and early Israelites (the Bronze Age through the destruction of the First Temple) in their historical context. His dense, somewhat arbitrary, capsule extols Judaic rational scholarshipwhich contributed to ethical monotheism and the 18th-century economic system, in turnand denigrates mystic kabbalah``heresy of the most pernicious kind.'' Although Johnson, who seeks to acknowledge ``the magnitude of the debt Christianity owes to Judaism,'' traces ``an inherent conflict'' between the religion and the state of Israel through the various ages, the work is incontrovertibly sympathetic to Zionism. BOMC and QPBC featured alternates; author tour. (April)

EAN: 9780060915339
ISBN: 0060915331
Publisher: HarperPerennial
Dimensions: 13.46 x 3.81 x 20.32 centimetres (0.45 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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Colin on
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Compressing 4000 years of history into one book is never easy - so much can get lost or get left out - but here Johnson manages it superbly well. It is wonderfully written, very readable, and reminds us of so much history that gets forgotten or overshadowed. And the best part is that Johnson also shows how the Jewish people and their history have influenced and directed "world" history, showing there is a definite debt for us to pay. A great read.

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