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Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour Paperback – February 12, 1984

4.5 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Tuchman is a wise and witty writer, a shrewd observer with a lively command of high drama.”The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“In her métier as a narrative popular historical writer, Barbara Tuchman is supreme.”Chicago Sun-Times

From the Inside Flap

With the lucidity and vividness that characterize all her work, two-time Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Barbara Tuchman, explores the complex relationship of Britain to Palestine that led to the founding of the modern Jewish state--and to many of the problems that plague the Middle East today.
"Barbara Tuchman is a wise and witty writer, a shrewd observer with a lively command of high drama."
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reissue edition (February 12, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345314271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345314277
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #251,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I suspect that most people who read Bible and Sword do so after an enjoyable experience with one of Tuchman's acclaimed later works, such as Pulitzer Prize winners The Guns of August or Stillwell and the American Experience in China. I fall into the extreme end of this group, having read all 9 of her subsequent books before tackling this debut offering. Major fans of Tuchman will enjoy Bible and Sword on two levels--as a stand-alone historical work and as a window on the early development of one of the finest American-born historians.
Regarding the work itself, the topic of Britain's relationship with Palestine and central role in the movement toward re-establishment of the Jewish state is fascinating. The canvas is broad, covering roughly 1,700 years from the original Christian communities in 3rd century Britain to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which established the British policy of restoring the Jewish state to Palestine. The thesis is compelling, namely that the Balfour Declaration was the scion of twin progenitors--the Christian motivation to restore the Jews to the promised land as a prerequisite to the second coming of Christ and the imperial motivation to control the vital Mediterranean commercial route to India and the Far East. Interestingly, Tuchman makes it clear that, with several individual exceptions, these motivations had nothing to do with concern for the Jews but rather originated from the spiritual and temporal aspirations of Britain. The ebb and flow of the Britain-Palestine relationship makes for fascinating reading, covering topics such as the early Holy Land pilgrimages, the Crusades, the role of the British Navy in halting Napoleon's conquest of Palestine and the British role in propping up the Ottoman Turks.
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Format: Paperback
As one of Tuchman's first publications, this book is perhaps a little rougher than some of her more recent works. The scholarship is, of course, thorough and brilliant, but the refined irony and humour found in her "Calamitous 14th Century" is somewhat lacking. (Of course, practice does make perfect, and this is a fine early work.)
With this said, her thorough coverage of the Balfour mandate starts not in the 19th century, but far back in the past, even before Britain first began to recognize the Christian debt to the Jews. Starting in the Bronze age, continuing through the Crusades, exploring Victorian ideals, and finishing with a thorough review of the events leading up to the formation of Israel, this book is nothing if not thorough.
For anyone who enjoys Tuchman's work, this book is no disappointment. For anyone curious about the convoluted and intricate relationship between Britain and Palestine, between Christian and Jew, this book is essential reading.
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Format: Paperback
Ms.Tuchman traces the relationship between England and the establishment of a Jewish homeland. She takes us from the Beaker people who settled England to the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Tuchman, even in her first book, establishes a narrative style of writing about history that she would later use to achieve awesome heights in historical literature. The main enjoyment of this book is the detailed description of how the English were determined to regain Palestine for the Jewish people, so they then could be converted (whether the Jews wanted to or not),to christianity thus hastening the second comming of Christ. It also spreads some light on the seeming insanity of the puritans, who briefly changed England into a hebraic theocracy to protest the predominance of the Latin Catholic Church. It was probably impossible for Tuchamn to write this book without a little bias seeping through, and at times her treatment of the German people seems to be a little bit one sided, although this is quite understandable. If you ever wanted to know about the historical foundations of the Jewish Homeland, this book is for you.
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Format: Paperback
Barbara Tuchman's first work of history, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age To Balfour, is vast in historical, religious, diplomatic and political scholarship. From the early times of the Beaker people and Caliphates to the first crusades and pilgrimages, all the way down to the creation of the Jewish homeland by the aristocratic and willowy former British Prime Minister Authur James Balfour and the Balfour Declaration of 1917 as well as the often overlooked Palestine Mandate, nothing is left out in describing how Israel came into being and England's often historically forgotten role in its conception. Of the two, the latter was actually the one "that gave a footing in public law to the restoration of Israel in Palestine" whereas the Balfour Declaration of 1917 "was simply a statement of policy that any subsequent government could have ignored". The Palestine Mandate was a global promise confirmed by Wilson's League of Nations and thus elevated the Balfour Declaration, which was absorbed with the mandate, to treaty status. Religiously speaking, the British wanted Israel settled so Christiendom would not only be the predominate faith above all the others, but so that Christ's appearance would not accelerate at unbelievable, astronomical speeds. Politically speaking, real bizarre! The criticism of this book is founded. The language is rather dry and antiquated. And there are minute biased overtones of the Christian faith. But the scholarship and information that is provided outweighs the negative tinctures in this book. It gives a broad understanding to a narrow subject.
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