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On The Eve

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This is the portrait of a world on the eve of its destruction. Bernard Wasserstein presents a disturbing interpretation of the collapse of European Jewish civilization even before the Nazi onslaught. Wasserstein shows how the harsh realities of the age devastated the lives of communities and individuals. By 1939, the Jews faced an existential crisis that was as much the result of internal decay as of external attack. Ranging from Vilna ('Jerusalem of Lithuania') to Salonica with its Judeo-Espanol speaking stevedores and singers, and beyond, the book's focus is squarely on the Jews themselves rather than their persecutors. Wasserstein's aim is to 'breathe life into dry bones.' Based on vast research, written with compassion and empathy, and enlivened by dry wit, On the Eve paints a vivid and shocking picture of the European Jews in their final hour.
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A major history examining the realities of Jewish life across Europe up to the very eve of World War Two.

About the Author

Bernard Wasserstein has been a historian of modern Jewish and Middle Eastern history for over thirty years. He taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was Professor of History at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. From 1996 to 2000 he served as President of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies; and is now Professor of History at Chicago University.


Nothing less than a marvel. Nothing escapes his gaze * Sunday Times * The extensively researched On the Eve is an enlightening and moving evocation of the richness and heterogenity ... of Jewish life in pre-war Europe. * Jewish Chronicle * In poignant detail, Wasserstein chronicles the salons, publishing houses and film studios of Jewish communities in Lithuania, Poland and Austria. The book is brocaded with scenes of a people and a culture in their final hour. * Independent * Only the finest historian could hope to expose the anti-semitic idiocies of 1930s Europe and explore the Jewish response in a sensitive and even-handed way. Enter Wasserstein, who has written one of the most important books I've ever read. -- Jonathan Wright * Herald *

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