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Brilliantly narrated in 1,001 episodes, this newly revised and updated edition tells the story of a people escaping annihilation and cultural death, fighting, falling back, advancing. Infused with an almost miraculous life force, they have survived the death of civilizations and have triumphantly contributed to man's spiritual and intellectual heritage for some four thousand years.
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By Joe on 08-27-12
Grand in scope and depth
To begin, it's really amazing that such a book even CAN be written. The years of work, research, examination and detailing are mind-boggling. This book, quite literally, retells known human history, but from the point of view of the Jewish people. We move through the empires in Greece and Rome before their collapse, the beginnings and continuation of feudalism, the creation of new states and the emergences of the modern world. We have read in texts and books for years these stories, but here they are again, wholly new and re-examined, from the point of view of a small band of people, constantly in danger, who have had a completely disproportionate effect on history.
We see how they formed into a people, how they wrote their laws, how they battled against unbelievable odds and how they generated some of the greatest breakthroughs in history. Of particular interest to me was the Middle Ages, a time when Europe was wholly in control of the monarchs and the church, neither of which allowed their serfs to own businesses, handle money, or affect the day to day operations of civilizations. Someone had to do it. So the Jews stepped in and kept these nations from completely collapsing. Then one nation would chase them out, begin to crumble and beg for them to return. During this time you see the new writings and the study of the old maintain a people without a home.
That said, this is a history book, not a particularly Jewish one. It's somewhat dry at times and the narrator is good, but not enrapturing. That said, it's a great, sweeping, new way to look at history and it makes certain idiosyncrasies, ironies and confusions of history start to make so much more sense. At the same time, it's an adventure story of survival against all odds. This is a fun book, and I definitely recommend it.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
By Montcalm on 07-20-14
Valuable, though somewhat dated
What did you like best about Jews, God, and History? What did you like least?
I liked the sweep of the narrative, plus many details along the way were fascinating. But just because of the sweep, everything is pretty shallow in the treatment.
Would you recommend Jews, God, and History to your friends? Why or why not?
I would recommend it to learn especially about some of the great figures in the intellectual history of Judaism--Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Maimonides, etc.
Would you be willing to try another one of Anna Fields’s performances?
Under no circumstances would I listen to Anna Fields read a book. Her sing song rhythm and sarcasm drove me crazy.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful