In this magnificently illustrated cultural history—the tie-in to the pbs and bbc series The Story of the Jews—simon schama details the story of the jewish people, tracing their experience across three millennia, from their beginnings as an ancient tribal people to the opening of the new world in 1492 It is a story like no other: an epic of endurance in the face of destruction, of creativity in the face of oppression, joy amidst grief, the affirmation of life despite the steepest of odds. It spans the millennia and the continents—from 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 gems and spices founder at sea. And a great story unfolds. Not—as often imagined—of 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.
It is a story like no other: an epic of endurance against destruction, of creativity in oppression, joy amid grief, the affirmation of life against the steepest of odds. The first of two volumes, The Story of the Jews spans the millennia and the continents—from India to Andalusia and from the bazaars of Cairo to the streets of Oxford. It takes readers to unimagined places: 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 writers of the Bible to the love poems of wine bibbers in a garden in Muslim Spain. Within these pages, 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, and ships loaded with spices and gems founder at sea. And a great story unfolds. Not—as often imagined—of 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.
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 – from 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. Within these pages, 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 – as often imagined – of 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.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 BY THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, MAIL ON SUNDAY AND OBSERVER Belonging is a magnificent cultural history abundantly alive with energy, character and colour. From the Jews’ expulsion from Spain in 1492 it tells the stories not just of rabbis and philosophers but of a poetess in the ghetto of Venice; a boxer in Georgian England; a general in Ming China; an opera composer in nineteenth-century Germany. The story unfolds in Kerala and Mantua, the starlit hills of Galilee, the rivers of Colombia, the kitchens of Istanbul, the taverns of Ukraine and the mining camps of California. It sails in caravels, rides the stage coaches and the railways; trudges the dawn streets of London, hobbles along with the remnant of Napoleon’s ruined army. The Jewish story is a history that is about, and for, all of us. And in our own time of anxious arrivals and enforced departures, the Jews’ search for a home is more startlingly resonant than ever.
'Great Britain? What was that?' asks Simon Schama at the start of this, the second book of his epic three-volume journey into Britain's past. This volume, The British Wars, is a compelling chronicle of the changes that transformed every strand and stratum of British life, faith and thought from 1603 to 1776. Travelling up and down the country and across three continents, Schama explores the forces that tore Britain apart during two centuries of dynamic change - transforming outlooks, allegiances and boundaries. From the beginning of the British wars in July 1637, for 200 years battles raged on - both at home and abroad, on sea and on land, up and down the length of burgeoning Britain, across Europe, America and India. Most would be wars of faith - waged on wide-ranging grounds of political or religious conviction. But as wars of religious passions gave way to campaigns for profit, the British people did come together in the imperial enterprise of 'Britannia Incorporated'. The story of that great alteration is a story of revolution and reaction, inspiration and disenchantment, of progress and catastrophe, and Schama's evocative narrative brings it vividly to life.
The Slaves, the British, and the American Revolution
Author: Simon Schama
Publisher: Harper Collins
If you were black in America at the start of the Revolutionary War, which side would you want to win? When the last British governor of Virginia declared that any rebel-owned slave who escaped and served the king would be emancipated, tens of thousands of slaves fled from farms, plantations, and cities to try to reach the British camp. A military strategy originally designed to break the plantations of the American South had unleashed one of the great exoduses in U.S. history. With powerfully vivid storytelling, Schama details the odyssey of the escaped blacks through the fires of war and the terror of potential recapture, shedding light on an extraordinary, little-known chapter in the dark saga of American slavery.
Author of a number of celebrated works, including the bestselling The Story of the Jews and Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Simon Schama's latest book fuses history and art to create a tour de force of narrative sweep and illuminating insight. Using images from works-paintings, photographs, lithographs, etchings, sketches-found in London's National Portrait Gallery, The Face of Britain weaves together an account of their composition, framed by their particular moment of creation, and in the process unveils a collective portrait of nation and its history. "Portraits," Schama writes, "have always been made with an eye to posterity." Commissioned to paint Winston Churchill in 1954 Graham Sutherland struggled with how to capture the "savior" of Great Britain honestly and humanely. Schama calls the portrait, initially damned, the "most powerful image of a Great Briton ever executed." Annie Leibovitz's photograph of a nude John Lennon kissing Yoko Ono, taken five hours before his murder, bears "a weight of poignancy she could not possibly have anticipated." Hans Holbein's preparatory sketch for a portrait of Henry VIII depicts "an unstoppable engine of dynastic generation." Here are expressions from across the centuries of normalcy and heroism, beauty and disfigurement, aristocracy and deprivation, the familiar and the obscure-the faces of courtesans, warriors, workers, activists, playwrights, the high and mighty as well as pub-crawlers. Linking them is Schama's vibrant exploration of how their connective power emerges from the dynamic between subject and artist, work and viewer, time and place. Schama's compelling analysis and impassioned evocation of these works create an unforgettable verbal mosaic that at once reveals and transforms the images he places before us. Lavishly illustrated and written with the storytelling brio that is Schama's trademark, The Face of Britain invites us to look at a nation's visual legacies and find its reflection.
A sweeping history of Judaism over more than three millennia Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world, and it has preserved its distinctive identity despite the extraordinarily diverse forms and beliefs it has embodied over the course of more than three millennia. A History of Judaism provides the first truly comprehensive look in one volume at how this great religion came to be, how it has evolved from one age to the next, and how its various strains, sects, and traditions have related to each other. In this magisterial and elegantly written book, Martin Goodman takes readers from Judaism's origins in the polytheistic world of the second and first millennia BCE to the temple cult at the time of Jesus. He tells the stories of the rabbis, mystics, and messiahs of the medieval and early modern periods and guides us through the many varieties of Judaism today. Goodman's compelling narrative spans the globe, from the Middle East, Europe, and America to North Africa, China, and India. He explains the institutions and ideas on which all forms of Judaism are based, and masterfully weaves together the different threads of doctrinal and philosophical debate that run throughout its history. A History of Judaism is a spellbinding chronicle of a vibrant and multifaceted religious tradition that has shaped the spiritual heritage of humankind like no other.
"Simon Schama follows the success of A HISTORY OF BRITAIN with his explosive new series and book on the history of creativity. aking as his starting point eight famous painters and their great masterpieces, Schama transports the reader back to the intense moment in history when these works were conceived and born. In each case the artist - Caravaggio, Bernini, Rembrandt, David, Turner, Van Gogh, Picasso and Rothko - is backed into a corner, facing a crisis; given a chance to confound his rivals, enemies and critics one more time. ut this is more than a story about art and artists. As Schama takes us back to the birthplace of these masterpieces - to the murderous, messianic world of Baroque Rome; paranoid, revolutionary Paris; the madhouses and brothels of Provence and the carnage of civil war Spain - a very modern history of the Western world unfolds. Schama's epic story of the unfolding force of the visual imagination will make you look at art in a way you've never looked before "
Few direct clues exist to the everyday lives and beliefs of ordinary Jews in antiquity. Prevailing perspectives on ancient Jewish life have been shaped largely by the voices of intellectual and social elites, preserved in the writings of Philo and Josephus and the rabbinic texts of the Mishnah and Talmud. Commissioned art, architecture, and formal inscriptions displayed on tombs and synagogues equally reflect the sensibilities of their influential patrons. The perspectives and sentiments of nonelite Jews, by contrast, have mostly disappeared from the historical record. Focusing on these forgotten Jews of antiquity, Writing on the Wall takes an unprecedented look at the vernacular inscriptions and drawings they left behind and sheds new light on the richness of their quotidian lives. Just like their neighbors throughout the eastern and southern Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt, ancient Jews scribbled and drew graffiti everyplace--in and around markets, hippodromes, theaters, pagan temples, open cliffs, sanctuaries, and even inside burial caves and synagogues. Karen Stern reveals what these markings tell us about the men and women who made them, people whose lives, beliefs, and behaviors eluded commemoration in grand literary and architectural works. Making compelling analogies with modern graffiti practices, she documents the overlooked connections between Jews and their neighbors, showing how popular Jewish practices of prayer, mortuary commemoration, commerce, and civic engagement regularly crossed ethnic and religious boundaries. Illustrated throughout with examples of ancient graffiti, Writing on the Wall provides a tantalizingly intimate glimpse into the cultural worlds of forgotten populations living at the crossroads of Judaism, Christianity, paganism, and earliest Islam.
On the Eve is the portrait of a world on the brink of annihilation. In this provocative book, Bernard Wasserstein presents a new and disturbing interpretation of the collapse of European Jewish civilization even before the Nazi onslaught. In the 1930s, as Europe spiraled toward the Second World War, the continent’s Jews faced an existential crisis. The harsh realities of the age—anti-Semitic persecution, economic discrimination, and an ominous climate of violence—devastated Jewish communities and shattered the lives of individuals. The Jewish crisis was as much the result of internal decay as of external attack. Demographic collapse, social disintegration, and cultural dissolution were all taking their toll. The problem was not just Nazism: In the summer of 1939 more Jews were behind barbed wire outside the Third Reich than within it, and not only in police states but even in the liberal democracies of the West. The greater part of Europe was being transformed into a giant concentration camp for Jews. Unlike most previous accounts, On the Eve focuses not on the anti-Semites but on the Jews. Wasserstein refutes the common misconception that they were unaware of the gathering forces of their enemies. He demonstrates that there was a growing and widespread recognition among Jews that they stood on the edge of an abyss. On the Eve recaptures the agonizing sorrows and the effervescent cultural glories of this last phase in the history of the European Jews. It explores their hopes, anxieties, and ambitions, their family ties, social relations, and intellectual creativity—everything that made life meaningful and bearable for them. Wasserstein introduces a diverse array of characters: holy men and hucksters, beggars and bankers, politicians and poets, housewives and harlots, and, in an especially poignant chapter, children without a future. The geographical range also is vast: from Vilna (the “Jerusalem of the North”) to Amsterdam, Vienna, Warsaw, and Paris, from the Judeo-Espagnol-speaking stevedores of Salonica to the Yiddish-language collective farms of Soviet Ukraine and Crimea. Wasserstein’s aim is to “breathe life into dry bones.” Based on comprehensive research, rendered with compassion and empathy, and brought alive by telling anecdotes and dry wit, On the Eve offers a vivid and enlightening picture of the European Jews in their final hour.
A man who grew up in Palestine with his Jewish mother discusses what he sees as the Israeli exploitation of the “chosen people” and what he calls the “holocaust industry” and searches for an alternate secular identity beyond Zionism.
Simon Schama explores the forces that tore Britain apart during two centuries of dynamic change - transforming outlooks, allegiances and boundaries. From the beginning of July 1637, battles raged on for 200 years - both at home and abroad, on sea and on land, up and down the length of burgeoning Britain, across Europe, America and India. Most would be wars of faith - waged on wide-ranging grounds of political or religious conviction. But as wars of religious passions gave way to campaigns for profit, the British people did come together in the imperial enterprise of 'Britannia Incorporated'. The British Wars is a story of revolution and reaction, inspiration and disenchantment, of progress and catastrophe, and Schama's evocative narrative brings it vividly to life.
Israel is a small and relatively young country, but its turbulent history has placed it squarely at the centre of the world stage for most of this century. For two millennia the Jews, dispersed all over the world, prayed for a return to Zion. Until the nineteenth century, that dream seemed a fantasy, but then a secular Zionist movement was born and soon the initial trickle of Jewish immigrants to Palestine turned into a flood as Jews fled persecution in Europe. From these beginnings, Martin Gilbert traces the events and personalities that would lead to the sudden, dramatic declaration of Statehood in May 1948. From that point on, Israel's history has been dominated by conflict: Suez, the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the Lebanon and the Intifada. Using contemporary documents and eyewitness accounts, drawing on his own intimate knowledge of the country and its people, Martin Gilbert weaves together a seamless, page-turning history of a powerful and proud nation,with a new chapter to cover the last ten years, bringing the story right up to date: the continuing conflicts, and the ever-present avenues of hope.
Presents an epic story of the holy city at the heart of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, drawing on new archival materials, current scholarship, and the author's own family records to narrate its tumultuous history.
Questions the origin, meaning and cultural importance of keeping one day a week holy through an exploration of ritual, religious law and the communitarian way of life in our modern, workaholic, increasingly secular world.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND THE ECONOMIST Winner of the Natan Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension. We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country. As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape. Praise for My Promised Land “This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.”—Simon Schama, Financial Times “[A] must-read book.”—Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times “Important and powerful . . . the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read.”—Leon Wieseltier, The New York Times Book Review “Spellbinding . . . Shavit’s prophetic voice carries lessons that all sides need to hear.”—The Economist “One of the most nuanced and challenging books written on Israel in years.”—The Wall Street Journal