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Jews, God and History Paperback – Bargain Price, March 4, 2003

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--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The vitality and longevity of Jewish culture raises the question: How did this tenacious people survive throughout history when many other cultures and religions were annihilated or absorbed? Uniquely, they accomplished this without a homeland for nearly 2000 years. The work, a revision of a huge history written shortly after World War II, doesn't dwell on the Holocaust but presents a history of ancient and modern Jewish states and spells out how Torah and Talmud kept alive a tradition of abstract thought: a potent survival tool. The work also details differences between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews and the split that created Christianity. The rift among the Semites, i.e., with Islam and the Arabs, gets less attention. Anna Fields narrates this classic, which, to Jews and non-Jews alike, successfully captures the history of the Jewish experience. A useful addition to most collections.AJames Dudley, Copiague, NY.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

''Unquestionably the best popular history of the Jews written in the English language.'' --Los Angeles Times

''Successfully captures the history of the Jewish experience. A useful addition to most collections.'' --Library Journal

''The author has turned four thousand years in the life of one people into a lively, canny, authoritative, brainy and informative page-turner . . . [Anna Fields'] listener-friendly cadences express not only the sense of the lines, but also the connections among ideas and the author's underlying intelligence.'' --AudioFile --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade; 2nd edition (March 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451207017
  • ASIN: B005IUT472
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,961,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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94 of 98 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on July 21, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had not much luck with finding a really good history of Judaism until I stumbled across this book and bought it on a whim. What I got was what I really wanted: a well-written history of the Jews from ancient times to today.
Two things make this book great. First, Dimont is a good writer, both insightful and entertaining, with occasional flashes of ironic humor. Second, Dimont puts the history of the Jews in the larger context of World History and keeps from a narrower Jewish perspective.
On the one hand, Dimont does not hide his general admiration for the Jews, both for their endurance and their contributions to society that are far out of proportion to their percentage of the populace. On the other hand, for those who believe that Jews have suffered nothing but persecution for thousands of years, Dimont presents a different viewpoint which shows Jews often prospering.
No one will find Dimont fully objective in his history, but they should find that he presents an overall balanced work. Written with both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences in mind, Dimont has put together a wonderful book that is good for both those interested in Jewish history or those interested in Western history in general.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Peter Uys HALL OF FAME on March 28, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This popular history of the Jewish people succeeds in bringing the four thousand year saga alive for the general reader. The author observes that even though the furniture of the West may be Greek, the house of Western civilization is Jewish. One of the questions examined in this book is: How did the Jewish people survive the disappearance of every civilization in which they lived? The following six eras are discussed in the Preface: the Pagan World, Greco-Roman civilization, Diaspora, Islam, European Middle Ages and the Modern Age. Dimont accepts the psychoanalytic, philosophical and existentialist interpretation of history that holds that ideas motivate mankind and shape history.

Part One: The Portable God, explores the age of paganism, the origin of the Hebrews and of monotheism and the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, until the coming of the Greeks and the clash of Greek and Hebrew culture. In Part Two: Age Of The Apikorsim, he looks at the survival of Jewish culture and religion under the Greeks, the Roman take-over of the land, the destruction of Jerusalem and the various Jewish revolts until the final banishment from the Holy Land.

Part 3: Moses, Christ and Caesar investigates the birth of Christianity as a Jewish sect, how the religions were separated during the aforementioned wars and revolts and the spread and ultimate triumph of Christianity in Europe. The next section, Invisible World Of The Talmud, explains how Judaism and Jewish identity were preserved in the diaspora by means of Talmudic learning.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful By J A W on June 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
A book that spans Abraham to Maimonides to Disraeli can't get every detail in, but I still found the book very informative. I found Dimont's interpretation of events enlightening -- for example, in the Middle Ages the ghettoization and ostracization of Jews, in a way, helped the Jews, because they were free from the ludicrous system of Feudalism. Could we consider the Jews the originators of the Free Market system (which is a good thing)? Dimont hints at this.
I also didn't know that the Church was in many ways the *protector* of the Jews (Gregory the Great forbade the forced conversion of Jews), and that it was lay Christians who incited and joined the Anti-Semitic mobs. This makes "sense" in a social psychological way(not to give credence to Jew hatred). You have a bunch of serfs, illiterate, ignorant of their own religion, ignorant of the Tanach/Old Testament (Catholic Church liturgy really builds entirely from the NT), ostensibly owned by their lords, and then you have a bunch of educated, "free" Jews who were different religously from the oppressed Christians. Jealousy, envy, perception of a disruption in the "natural" order, thus Anti-Semitism. The Nazis would pick up on this later, quite literally emphasizing the "natural order", except the Nazis, as Dimont shows, aren't Christian but anti-Christian as well as anti-Jew. Their hatred of Jews had nothing to do w/ "deicide", rather motive that can only be described as Darwinian pagan "Blood and Soil". The Nazis had enough Zyklon-B gas to kill 20 million more, yet only 3 million Jews left in Europe after the evils of the Final Solution. The Nazis were going to go after everyone.
I also liked the tidbits Dimont throws in: Germans during WWII had a higher suicide rate than Jews in the concentration camps. Amazing!
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103 of 130 people found the following review helpful By John W. Wires on September 8, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Max Dimont's "Jews, God, and History" is a now well-known summary of the subject. As has been pointed out by many previous reviewers, this book is appropriately acclaimed for being readable, helpfully condensed, and free of scholarly obfuscation. His collection of the facts of Jewish history is accessible in ways that more detailed and research-based works are not. One could quickly use an outline of the book to keep the chronology straight and get immediate access to greater detail when needed. He summarizes the key events and issues of Jewish history in a manner that can act as an introduction to more detailed works.

Unlike more scholarly works, he is honest about his advocacy. He advocates a universal rationalism, on the model of Spinoza, rather than a philosophy based on revelation or authority. He minimizes the effects of Christianity and Islam. He is unabashed in his citation of the beneficial effects of Jewish innovations. His roll call of influential Jewish individuals (pp. 328-372) is a mini-encyclopedia in itself. He advocates a non-supernatural approach to history, so he accepts historical and psychological rather than theistic explanations. His secular approach may make the book more accessible to a larger audience.

Dimont's assets are as monumental as are his liabilities, with three areas of particular weakness. First, the title is a misnomer. The book contains a lot about the Jews, a lot about history, and little or nothing about God. It therefore has the paradoxical effect of portraying the uniquely Jewish theology as unnecessary to understanding Jewish history.

Second, Dimont states that whether God is or is not involved in history is irrelevant to the story of the Jews.
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