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The Chosen Peoples: America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election Hardcover – September 14, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gitlin is professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University; Leibovitz is an editor of Tablet, an online magazine dealing with Jewish political and cultural issues. They have tackled a controversial and emotional issue––the tight and supposedly “unbreakable” ties between the United States and Israel. This is a relationship that has recently been questioned and criticized in certain academic and political circles, so this is a timely, worthwhile examination. The authors assert that the nations are tied less by their common strategic interests and more by a shared sense of being “chosen” peoples. For Jews, the idea of being a divinely selected people has biblical roots. The authors acknowledge that the founders of modern Israel were staunch secularists; yet, they marshal evidence that suggests that the sense of a special destiny continues to exercise a hold on Israelis. The American Puritan heritage is permeated with a sense of divine mission, beginning with John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” declaration. Gitlin and Leibovitz make some interesting connections as well as some huge, questionable leaps, but this work will provide useful fodder for debate on a hot topic. --Jay Freeman


Advance Praise for

The Chosen Peoples

“This is one of the finest books I have ever read about the ideas which drive modern nations. Eloquent and erudite, Gitlin and Leibovitz reveal the promise and the pitfalls of a mass temptation neither Americans nor Israelis have been able to resist. The Chosen Peoples is a necessary work for our perilous era.”

--Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan

“Americans’ deep sense of connection to Old Testament prophecy and providence dates back to the Puritans. In their provocative new book, Todd Gitlin and Liel Leibovitz explore that connection anew for modern times—and offer food for thought and rich argument about the historical as well as political experiences of both Israel and the United States.”

--Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy

“A perceptive comparison between Israel and the United States as Chosen Peoples of God. The authors synthesize history, Bible study, and current events with their own deeply moral analysis. They explore the analogy between the Israeli settlers on Palestinian lands and the white American settlers on Native American lands in ways profoundly enlightening.”

--Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

“The Chosen Peoples invites readers to take with great seriousness and respect the idea that both Israel and the United States bear the burden of imagining themselves as chosen by God. In an extraordinarily sensitive exploration of the concept of being chosen, Todd Gitlin and Liel Leibovitz bring a fresh perspective to the history of Israel and America and to the complex linkages between them.”

--Joyce Appleby, professor emerita of history, UCLA, author of The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism

“Few alliances on the world stage are as complex and important as the Israeli-United States special relationship. Yet how best to understand it? In a book that is as refreshing as it is provocative, and timely too, The Chosen Peoples explores the fascinating consequences of both nations seeing themselves as chosen by God. Bravo to Todd Gitlin and Liel Leibovitz for their important contribution.”

--Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval

“The Chosen Peoples is a probing account of two powerful myths that have brought us to the brink of disaster, but that may still provide a fresh way forward. The authors’ case for more humane ideas of national destiny is lucid, compelling, and deeply necessary. No one who cares about the future of America--or Israel--can afford to ignore this timely and important book.”

--Jackson Lears, Rutgers University, author of Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920

“Intriguing. . . . Brisk and entertaining. . . . A valuable addition to the public discussion of religion and politics (or religion in politics).”

--Gordon Haber, Forward

“A thought-provoking book that deserves much attention and debate. . . . In addition to the catholicity of its approach and its truly bold—actually totally chutzpah—scope, I was most attracted to it because it gives a fine framework wherein to situate anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.”

--Andrei S. Markovits,

“Gitlin and Leibovitz shed light on the strong messianic impulses in the history of both ‘chosen’ nations.”

--Chuck Leddy, The Christian Science Monitor

“An ambitious religio-political meditation on American and Israeli history. . . . The theme of chosenness yields an insightful reading of the Israeli national project, which is explicitly linked to ancient religious imperatives.”

--Publishers Weekly


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439132356
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439132357
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,370,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Lila on August 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In my humble opinion, this book is a failure if the goal was to shed any light on the question of divine calling of Israel and the United States. The author is intelligent, but nevertheless misses the point of the subject entirely. This book is a mere accumulation of historical research, political discussion and intellectual thought.
The author set out to investigate about a divine idea that was initially reported thousands of years ago. This idea refers to a purely divine question. No divine question can be grasped and ever understood by a merely intellectual approach. This divine question can only be observed by a spiritual approach to even arrive at the slightest glimpse of a revelation. The intellectual approach becomes a boasting of knowledge and intellect and accomplishes nothing in truly reflecting on this divine idea. As much as the different and deep investigations into political facts and history may excite the minds of the readers, after reading the book the readers remain just as much in the dark about that divine idea and what it means as prior to reading the book. Even though the term awakening is used frequently, it is not referred to as a spiritual awakening in its most pure essence, instead it is just being used to illustrate the author's intellectual understanding of historic and political events.
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