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A History of the Jews in the Modern World [Kindle Edition]

Howard M. Sachar
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $24.00
Kindle Price: $12.79
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The distinguished historian of the Jewish people, Howard M. Sachar, gives us a comprehensive and enthralling chronicle of the achievements and traumas of the Jews over the last four hundred years.

Tracking their fate from Western Europe’s age of mercantilism in the seventeenth century to the post-Soviet and post-imperialist Islamic upheavals of the twenty-first century, Sachar applies his renowned narrative skill to the central role of the Jews in many of the most impressive achievements of modern civilization: whether in the rise of economic capitalism or of political socialism; in the discoveries of theoretical physics or applied medicine; in “higher” literary criticism or mass communication and popular entertainment.

As his account unfolds and moves from epoch to epoch, from continent to continent, from Europe to the Americas and the Middle East, Sachar evaluates communities that, until lately, have been underestimated in the perspective of Jewish and world history—among them, Jews of Sephardic provenance, of the Moslem regions, and of Africa. By the same token, Sachar applies a master’s hand in describing and deciphering the Jews’ unique exposure and functional usefulness to totalitarian movements—fascist, Nazi, and Stalinist. In the process, he shines an unsparing light on the often widely dissimilar behavior of separate European peoples, and on separate Jewish populations, during the Holocaust.

A distillation of the author’s lifetime of scholarly research and teaching experience, A History of the Jews in the Modern World provides a source of unsurpassed intellectual richness for university students and educated laypersons alike.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this monumental and complex narrative, successor to his distinguished 1958 The Course of Modern Jewish History (substantially revised in 1990), Sachar, generally acknowledged as the preeminent scholar of modern Jewish history, proves himself to be not only a superb historian, but a compelling storyteller. The scope of this project is both exhilarating and daunting, including western and eastern Europe, America and the Middle East from the 17th century to the present; Sachar's major themes include the history of anti-Semitism, the development of the nation state, the rise of European fascism and the immigration of Jews throughout Europe and to the Americas. Sachar has constructed this history with such adroitness that it is best read as a sweeping chronicle of not just Jewish but world history. As always, Sachar's informal, almost conversational style is both inviting and accessible, whether sketching out the complicated position of Jews in Brazil during the country's fight for independence from Portugal in 1824 or demonstrating how Jewish religious thinking was vital in the advancement of modern medicine. For both the general reader and the scholar, this is an important addition to the literature on both Jewish and Western history and culture. (Aug. 17)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Sachar, author of 15 books and the editor of the 39-volume Rise of Israel: A Documentary History, begins his new, compelling, and comprehensive book with an account of the European Jews and anti-Semitism they faced as early as the sixteenth century, in what he calls their "indeterminate status as non-Europeans." He goes on to describe such events as their life in western Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the French Revolution and Jewish questions, the Jews of czarist Russia, their struggle for civil rights in the 1830s and 1840s, and their place in what Sachar labels an emancipated economy. There are chapters on such topics as the impact of Western culture on Jewish life and coping with Jewish identity, the rise of Jewish life in America, the era of pogroms in Russia, the migration of east European Jewry (1881-1914), and the onset of modern anti-Semitism. Sachar discusses the life of Theodor Herzl and the rise of political Zionism, the effect of World War I on European Jews and postwar anti-Semitism, the Balfour Declaration in 1917, quotas limiting Jewish immigration to the U.S. in 1921, the rise of Hitler and the Holocaust, and the birth of Israel. Sachar does not discuss the State of Israel, saying that the history of an independent nation deserves independent treatment, but otherwise he has written the definitive history of the Jews, unparalleled in its scope and depth. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 1562 KB
  • Print Length: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,614 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
This is a mini-encyclopedia of Jewish history beginning about the 17th century. Sachar's main emphasis is on the Jews of Europe. Owing to the large number of topics raised by the author, this review is necessarily limited to consideration of only a few of them.

Sachar presents a nuanced view of the Jewish experience in post-Reformation Europe: "These constructs must be judged in the context of their time, of course. If Jews possessed fewer rights than did their urban Christian neighbors, they also bore fewer obligations and enjoyed more privileges than did Europe's peasant masses."(p. 5).

A moderate amount of attention is devoted to the massive pogroms in 19th century Russia. Based on archival research, Sachar rejects the notion that the pogroms of 1881 had been instigated by the tsarist government (p. 199). However, Sachar believes that Tsar Nicholas II was in fact behind the 600 pogroms that took place in 1905 (p. 295). Sachar also recounts the experience of Mendel Beilis, who had been framed on an accusation of ritual murder (pp. 305-309). Beilis received a considerable amount of international support and was eventually acquitted.

After Poland was partitioned in the late 1700's, the erstwhile Polish Jews of eastern Poland became Russian Jews, as described by Sachar: "All attempts by Jews to participate in municipal government were effectively blocked by their Russian neighbors, on the grounds that the Jews engaged in "parasitical" "exploitative" activities among the surrounding peasants, especially through their control of the liquor trade. The latter charge actually was well founded.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, as Always August 26, 2005
Sacher has previously written on such subjects as Zionism, the Jews in Europe between the wars and Jews in the Diaspora. Now he applies his wonderful talents as a historian and writer to the Jewish experience in modern times from the 17th century to today. He examines European anti-semtism and the rise of nationalism alongside the enlightenment and the new rights for Jews. Also looked at is the situation of Jews in Muslim lands and elsewhere, subjects usually given short shrift in books of this kind. Finally we are given excellent portraits of Jewish migration to the Americans and within Europe. Most are not aware that in 1930 many of the Jews in Germany and France were recent arrivals from the east, Jews from the Shtetl of Russia and Ukraine escaping persecution, dire poverty and revolution. These Jews contrasted greatly with the `liberated' and `assimilated' Jews of Germany who had created the reform movement. Important Jewish personalities like the Rothschilds are interwoven along with fascinating stories about Jews in Latin America and elsewhere.

This is a tour de force, as always well written and researched and easily readable.

Seth J. Frantzman
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful April 10, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've been looking for a secular based book of Jewish history for a while and I randomly stumbled upon this gem. Firstly, I really like Sachar's writing style; for me the reading was like a history textbook on one side and a novel on the other, it grabs you to an extend where it's actually difficult to put it down sometimes. His approach is also great, this is a secular based book and one realized this almost from the start. It does not go into any religious interpretations of events, but shows the effect secular life had on the mainstream Jewish religion. I think that's great, if I want to read a religious or philosophical history of the Jews, there are lot of options, but this is the first real HISTORY book I've found.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very accurate... January 10, 2006
By PaulN
I know a lot about certain aspects of Jewish history [and very little about other ones]. I found absolutely no contradiction between what Sachar writes and what I know. This rarely ever happens in books about history.

I recommend this book highly to everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike although people with non-European background will probably be overwhelmed and will miss a lots of the finer points. For instance, a typical American has no idea what/where Hungary is, so why should he care that Horthy didn't really want to see all the Jews gassed - some maybe, but not all.

A genuine gem.

Please note that, contrary to the general perception, not every Jew is filthy rich.
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