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.
The Journey to a Jewish Homeland from Abraham to the Holocaust
Author: Martin Connolly
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Here [In the State if Israel] their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance, and gave the world the Eternal Book of Books. David Ben-Gurion, 14 May 1948Seventy years ago in 1948 the State of Israel came into being amidst great controversy. For many, the Jews did not belong in Palestine and around them many nations sought to eradicate the new state from the map.How did the State arise? What led to the founding of Israel?This book sets out to give a chronological journey of the Jewish people from the time Abraham came out of the land of Ur 3,000 years ago, until 6 million of them died in the horror of the Holocaust under Hitler and his Nazi regime.It recounts the many expulsions from the land in which they lived, the suffering under Babylonians, Greek, Persians, the destruction of their Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, and finally, genocide and the expulsion by the Romans in 132 AD creating a diaspora across the world.The Jews would be charged with killing God and throughout the following centuries would be expelled from countries, burned alive after being locked in Synagogues and at the stake, have all their property seized and herded into ghettoes. All of this until that fatal Holocaust, which attempted to wipe them from the face of the earth.This book recounts their story to achieve a homeland , using a wide-range of historical documents to tell the story of humiliation, suffering, poverty and death. It tells of religious persecution that would not let them rest, and as their journey enters the twentieth century, gives a behind-the-scenes look at how governments manipulated the Middle East and exacerbated divisions.
Examining the entire span of Jewish history by focusing on thirty pivotal moments in the Jewish people’s experience from biblical times through the present—essentially the most important events in the life of the Jewish people—Turning Points in Jewish History provides “the big picture”: both a broad and a deep understanding of the Jewish historical experience. Zeroing in on eight turning points in the biblical period, four in Hellenistic-Roman times, five in the Middle Ages, and thirteen in modernity, Marc J. Rosenstein elucidates each formative event with a focused history, a timeline, a primary text with commentary as an intimate window into the period, and a discussion of its legacy for subsequent generations. Along the way he candidly analyzes various controversies and schisms arising from Judaism’s encounters with power, powerlessness, exile, messianism, rationalism, mysticism, catastrophe, modernity, nationalism, feminism, and more. The book’s thirty distinct and logically connected events lend themselves to a full course or to customized classes on specific turning points. Discussion questions for every chapter (some in print, more online) facilitate reflection and continuing conversation.
The final stage of Simon Schama's epic voyage around Britain spans centuries, crosses the breadth of the empire and covers a vast expanse of topics - from the birth of feminism to the fate of freedom. The Fate of the Empire asks crucial questions about the nature of empire, journeying from celebrations of industrial and imperialist power at the Great Exhibition, to the catastrophic Irish potato famine and the Indian Mutiny. Through the military and economic shocks and traumas of our past, Schama asks the question that is still with us - is the immense weight of our history a blessing or a curse, a gift or a millstone around the neck of our future? This third and final volume in the series is a vast compelling history, made more so by the lively storytelling and big bold characters at the heart of the action. But alongside flamboyant heroes, like Nelson and Churchill, Schama recalls unsung heroines and virtually unknown enemies. Alongside the grand ideas, he exposes the grand illusions that cost untold lives.
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.
Writing on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother
Author: Simon Schama
Publisher: Random House
Passionate, provocative, entertaining and informative, Scribble, Scribble, Scribble ranges far and wide: from cookery and family to Barack Obama, from preaching and Shakespeare to Victorian sages, from Charlotte Rampling and Hurricane Katrina to 'The Fate of Eloquence in the Age of The Osbournes'.
Change - sometimes gentle and subtle, sometimes shocking and violent - is the dynamic of Simon Schama's unapologetically personal and grippingly written history of Britain, especially the changes that wash over custom and habit, transforming our loyalties. What makes or breaks a nation? To whom do we give our allegiance and why? And where do the boundaries of our community lie - in our hearth and home, our village or city, tribe or faith? What is Britain - one country or many? Has British history unfolded 'at the edge of the world' or right at the heart of it? Schama delivers these themes in a form that is at once traditional and excitingly fresh. The great and the wicked are here - Becket and Thomas Cromwell, Robert the Bruce and Anne Boleyn - but so are countless more ordinary lives: an Irish monk waiting for the plague to kill him in his cell at Kilkenny; a small boy running through the streets of London to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth I. The first in a series, this volume paints a rich and vivid portrait of the life of the British people and their nation.
Pre-eminent author and art historian Simon Schama has written widely on art for many years to great acclaim. In Hang-Ups, a personal selection of his articles from, amongst others, The New Yorker, appears in Britain for the very first time. Brilliantly and lucidly written by one of the most singular voices in non-fiction, this volume of provocative and often idiosyncratic essays makes hugely satisfying reading for lovers of both art and social history. In contains pieces on artists as diverse as David Hockney, Rembrandt and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and on such subjects as the unforgettable peculiarity of Stanley Spencer. From the author whose writing has been called sublime and whose ability to bring art and history vividly to life has earned him admiration worldwide, Hang-Ups is Schamas rallying cry for the art lover to look at familiar works of art and their artists and embrace a new way of seeing.