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The Story of the Jews : A 4,000-Year Adventure 1st Edition

19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1580231558
ISBN-10: 1580231551
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For every Talmudic scholar there are 10 well-intended souls who can't scan a page of Genesis without snoring. But thanks to Stan Mack, the history of the Jews is accessible to anyone who's ever succeeded in reading the comics. With humor, biblical quotes, cartoon sketches, historical accuracy, and an irreverent tone, Mack sums up 4,000 years of Jewish history in a fast-paced, delightful narrative. So a few incidents and details get lost along the way--more important is that what's included actually gets read, because Mack's style and drawings are so beguiling. From Abraham's covenant with God and the introduction of monotheism (a Jewish soldier instructs a Canaanite at sword point, saying "Y'see, our God isn't really fighting your God because our God is your God and your God isn't really a God because...") to today's diverse denominations ("My synagogue is unaffiliated. Our members have an equal say, are nonideological, and have low dues"), Mack's quips and sketches cover a lot of ground, from the Exodus, Romans, Christians and Moslems, onward. He sashays through ghettos and shtetls, illustrates Europe's anti-Semitism and Zionist fever, breezes through immigration to the U.S., WWII, and the establishment of Israel, ending with Jewish culture in the late 20th century. Backed by an index (which makes this a reference instead of a comic book) and a savvy political cartoonist's eye for irony, Mack's book emanates a fondness for his subject. And he tells a good story. --Stephanie Gold --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-At a near breakneck pace, this graphic-novel-style capitulation of history may be short on explanations but does an extraordinary job of presenting the experiences of the Jewish people in relation to social developments and political exigencies of every era. Humorous line cartoons with the occasional dialogue balloon expressing an "Oy" or an exemplary bit of pilpul carry readers through centuries of Biblical trials, tribulations, and discoveries. Secular Jews may find themselves deeply engaged by this facile journey through a past they haven't been able to reconstruct from traditional world-history courses. Other readers, too, will find a gem or two to nod and smile over. The greatest strength of this text is Mack's ability to humanize the nexus of cultures, whether it is Jews with Syrians, Jews with Greeks, or Jews arriving in the U.S. A supplement to ethnic-studies texts as well as an informative choice for casual readers.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights; 1 edition (August 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580231551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580231558
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Martin Bardo on June 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
The comics in here are admittedly simplistic, as is their view and telling of history. While many cartoonists today are making work intended for mature audiences or at least telling mature tales, this books seems to be aimed at younger readers. I don't have a problem with any of that. I was, however, surprised to see Stan Mack tell his intended audience of younger Jewish readers that "Jesus' followers saw him rise from the dead." My understanding is that not even Christians claim that any of Jesus' followers actually saw him rise from the dead, so I'm not sure why it's in here. It would be hard to write any Jewish history without including mention of Jesus, but wouldn't something like, "Jesus' followers claimed that he rose from the dead" have been more accurate?
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Dressler on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I worked as a Jewish History teacher, and I used this as a supplementary textbook with my 7th-grade students. I can't begin to tell you how useful it was; this was a book that was entertaining, and yet still managed to give the basic information, its tongue planted firmly in its cheek.
Some of the darker moments in Jewish history (the Holocaust, for example) do not lend themselves easily to cartoonization (Maus notwithstanding). These were understandably the weakest parts of the book.
But I would recommend this book wholeheartedly for absolutely anyone over the age of 9...including adults.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lal Chakraborty on October 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Good Cartoon histories are not an easy find. If you have stumbled onto this one,then, by now you must have read Larry Gonick's Cartoon history of Universe too (if you havn't check it out).
The story of the Jews is a reasonable good history. It is a little pro-Jew rather than impartial. However once you take that into account and stop looking for Palestine-Israel struggle history, it becomes a good introduction to overall Jewish history throughout the ages. Cartoon Histories are fun to read and create a better impact than raw text.
I initially checked it out from my library but then I bought it. Of course it would be better if the author could become a litle more critical. Larry Gonick's Cartoon history of USA is a good example where the author went beyond normal textbook history and added his insights. Another good cartoon history is the Latino USA: A Cartoon History by Ilan Stavans. But then with so few cartoon histories (6 precisely - 4 from Gonick, 1 from Stavans and this one) you can't really afford to pass this one.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By F. Orion Pozo on October 1, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful introduction to Jewish history in graphic novel format. Brief, but well-told, with a sensitivity to women that is a delight to see. Where else will you find Queen Alexandra, whose reign in the 1st century BCE was a golden age for the Jews, and Dona Gracia Nasi, a Jewish Italian business woman, who helped Portuguese Jews escape persecution in the 16th century CE.
Stan Mack's book is not as funny as Larry Gonick's cartoon histories, but more factual. As a result it serves as a good brief one volume history of the Jewish people. Only thing missing is a bibliography of further readings to pick up where this overview leaves the reader clamouring for more information.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marc Rentzer on July 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
First off, I am biased. I love Stan Mack. He was my favorite cartoonist when I was in high school and college, back when he was with the Village Voice.

The book is fun and user friendly. Perfect, no - there are some areas where his NYC Liberal Jewish impulses might have stifled a deeper or more balanced approach (I think the issue of "choseness" could have been explained differently.) But over all, I highly recommend this book. Solomon Graysel and others have deeper, richer, but tougher to read books on the same topic. Why go the Stan Mack route? Stans approach is funny, edgy and smart. I loved it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By People of the Book on June 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
I love the this book and concept behind it. It is light, fun and very informative. I really wish it was historically accurate.

It could have been incredible edition to Jewish History books, instead it's a cute book of comics that happen to be Jewish in nature and coincide with Jewish history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Constant Reader on February 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is one terrific approach to teaching the uninformed (Jews and others) about the history of the people and the religion's background. History with sharp humor is a rarity, especially in the vernacular of the comic book.

I learned so much I actually changed my mind about some "heroes" and learned about a few previously unknown people, developments, and events. And unlike most books on such vast topics, you can browse!

It's a delight, occasionally colored with both anger and what might be called "shtick". This is fine with me - the title openly implies his non-academic point of view.

Altogether,I found it a revelation and recommend it for almost any age.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By svigos on October 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Being a huge Stan Mack fan from his "Real Life Funnies" work in the Village Voice, I was looking forward to an iconoclastic, irreverent and hard-hitting work. The book was a huge disappointment, although the endorsements by various very "serious" individuals on the cover blurbs shoud have warned me! This is History done by the numbers, accepting all the official myths and institutionalised legends of Jewish History, thus doing a disservice to what is actually a very complex, revealing and fascinating story.
Stan Mack comes on, surprisingly enough, as a deeply religious and one-dimensional viewer of History whereas, if we know one thing about History, it's that it is anything but one-dimensional. The book, in its eagerness to toe the line, makes several blunders on historical accuracy too. Take the howler on p.230 about Hitler: "In '33, powerful industrialists got Hitler apponted Chancellor of Germany" - which is simply false. Hitler was appointed by Hindenburg, the old warrior then serving as President of the Republic after the Nazi Party amassed a considerable percentage of the popular vote. The economic establishment did want a bulwark against the Red Menace but they were not exactly happy with Hitler's strong anti-capitalist rhetoric. In other instances, the book makes no distinction between myth and reality. This could easily have been called "A Jewish Mythology".
Stan, I'm sorry but your book is definitely NOT "overheard verbatim"! It could have easily being written (and drawn - in the same bland manner) by Norman Podhoretz. A big, big letdown.
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