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Elusive Prophet: Ahad Ha'am and the Origins of Zionism Hardcover – October 29, 1993

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 386 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1ST edition (October 29, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520081110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520081116
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,991,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A leading thinker of the Zionist movement, the restless, reclusive, cynical Asher Ginzberg (1856-1927) was also its chief internal critic. Known by his pen name Ahad Ha'am ("One of the People"), the Russian Jewish activist would accuse his rival, Theodor Herzl, of reckless impatience; in Herzl's view, Ha'am's cautious vision of slowly building a Jewish national homeland was " cloistered , impractical. " Ha'am, who emigrated to Tel Aviv in 1922 and served as a moderating voice in a tense, factionalized Palestine, asserted that decent treatment of Palestinian Arabs was crucial to the future of a Jewish state. He was also a critic of the use of aggression as a tool to further nationalist goals. In this engrossing political biography, Zipperstein, director of the Stanford University Jewish Studies program, finds aspects of Ha'am's Zionist credo "lamentably dated" but also underscores his contemporary relevance. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This masterfully written and deeply insightful work is the first critical biography in English of the Hebrew thinker and essayist Ahad Ha'am (Asher Ginzberg, 1856-1927), one of the most influential figures in the history of modern Zionism and the driving force behind its thrust for cultural and spiritual renewal. Zipperstein, author of the award-winning Jews of Odessa (Stanford Univ. Pr., 1985), moves far beyond the heretofore standard, reverential biography by Leon Simon (1960) to explore his subject's strengths, weaknesses, and contemporary significance against the backdrop of modern Jewish history. His portrayal of the young Ahad Ha'am is breathtaking; later chapters, while still incisive, raise unanswered questions about his family, business, and influence abroad. A brilliant work; recommended for all Judaica libraries.
- Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis Univ., Waltham, Mass.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most interesting; Ha'am has never gotten the aclaim given to Herzl, but he was tirelessly dedicated to building a Jewish life and culture in the Turkish province of Palestine, the ancient home of the Jewish people.

His work forms an interesting counterpoint to that of Herzl with whom he had many disagreements.

I would have liked to have seen more excerpts from his original writings.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reader from Washington on May 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is definitely a five-star book: an exemplary intellectual and cultural history of an underexamined figure in early Zionism. I do think that the editorial reviews above, and the reader review below, do misrepresent the importance of the book in certain ways. Ahad Ha'am (or "One of the People"---"Ha'am" is not and cannot be used as if a last name as below!) was a central figure in early Zionism, and yet represents a strand of "cultural" or "spiritual" Zionism opposed to the political tactics and image of a polis in Zion represented by Herzl. Herzl won. It is important to note not only the ways that Ahad Ha'am influenced today's Zionism, but also to identify in him an idealistic, spiritually rich, and above all tolerant and inclusive vision of Zionism that has since been lost. All of this comes through in this marvelous book. I also handle these themes in my recent book _Prague Territories: National Conflict and Cultural Innovation in Franz Kafka's Fin de Siecle_: Ahad Ha'am and Martin Buber were especially influential in Kafka's Prague.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
At best it describes the relationships within Ha'am's life as reflective of his peculiar ideological formulations without. At least that is what I found to be most interesting. At the least it was a truthful account of certain trends within Asher Ginzberg's intellectual life. Still, the author didn't fully address the fundamental yet implicit drives/reactions that animated Ha'am; namely, civilizationalism, evolution, utopia- anti.utopia...Asher didn't merely "want out" of russia (or later as he found out, europe) for pragmatic reasons, he instead pursued an idea far ahead of his time: civilizational sovereignty, a thorough break I think with nation-state building that reigned and still does in most of the world today. Still this work does further a discussion, and I thank the author for writing it.
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