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Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History of Jewish Radicalism Hardcover – November 8, 2016
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“This rich and poignant and often enthralling record traces the Yiddishland revolutionaries from their East European roots through the years of hope and struggle and hideous crimes to the heroic anti-Nazi resistance and beyond, with fascinating asides on Spain and Palestine. There are many lessons for today, not least the significance of the lively interaction of revolutionary intellectuals and workers and the efforts to integrate the commitment to radical social and economic change with the formation of a Jewish identity that would break sharply from the stultifying tradition and open the way to the aspirations of the Jewish workers’ movement that was at the forefront of revolutionary struggle from its earliest days.”
“Could there have been a future for pre-war Jewry in which Israel did not exist and Jews were gathered in a nation state within a federated Soviet Union? This is one of the questions brought up in Alain Brossat and Sylvie Klingberg’s book … There is hope for the spirit and aims behind the stories this book tells. Jewish radicalism did not die out in 1942 with the Final Solution. It now expresses itself without Yiddish.”
—Clive Bloom, Times Higher Education
“A fascinating window onto a lost world … essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the complex relationship between the Jewish left, the general left, and Zionism. The gripping testimonies collected in these pages give the lie to the idea that Jews in the Shoah went like sheep to the slaughter. Brossat and Klingberg do not try to iron out the wrinkles of the past. Their insightful commentary illuminates the passions, paradoxes, triumphs and defeats of the witnesses who populate their book.”
—Brian Klug, author of Being Jewish and Doing Justice
“Nowadays we know more and more about the Nazi Genocide. Unfortunately, we have much less knowledge about the everyday life which preceded the horror and was so brutally terminated. For opening up this world we must praise Alain Brossat and Sylvia Klinberg for their vital new book, Revolutionary Yiddishland. Here, life is given priority to death, and the struggles of so many in the Yiddishland allow us to see past the catastrophes.”
—Shlomo Sand, author of The Invention of the Jewish People
“Brossat and Klingberg’s book is a memorial to a missing world. As an aesthetic composition, it is beautiful.”
—Max Ajl, Mondoweiss
“Altogether, Revolutionary Yiddishland is a thoroughly engaging read. It’s an important historical document preserving the memory of this radical period of Jewish and European history.”
“Its impact on me was immense. I devoured it; my political horizons radically expanded. Not only, I came to realise, was there no contradiction between Judaism, socialism and internationalism, but, until the Nazi genocide, they existed in a profoundly interrelated way.”
—Sai Englert, Salvage
“An eye-opening oral history.”
—Gabriel Levy, author of Judaic Technologies of the World
“A haunting, inspiring and often tragic book, Revolutionary Yiddishland uses first-hand interviews, deep archival research and sharp analysis to bring to life a complex landscape of factory workers, partisans, poets, party leaders, refugees, ghetto fighters and movement intellectuals.”
—Ben Lorber, In These Times
“An absorbing oral history … Revolutionary Yiddishland provides fascinating insight into a relatively unknown part of Jewish history.”
—Giulia Miller, History Today
“A spirited and politically engaged study of the lives and ideas of mid–twentieth-century Jewish revolutionaries … and a rich source for Jewish social history and for the history of the subalterns of the Jewish left in the twentieth century.”
About the Author
Alain Brossat is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII and long-time activist.
Sylvia Klingberg is a French sociologist.
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This is not a history of Jewish radicalism! I was so disappointed with this book. Angry, if you will. This book is a complete erasure of Jewish anarchism. Even Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, arguably the most notable Jewish radicals, who happen to be anarchists, are omitted completely! There is not mention of the many Jewish anarchist newspapers. The Jewish anarchist group of the early 1900s The Black Banner is not even mentioned. The famous Jewish anarchist authors and poets such as David Edelstadt and Johann Most are erased. I was appalled to read the section on the assassination of anti-Semite Symon Petlura has no mention of his killer Sholem Schwartzbard (a Jewish anarchist). In the index "anarchism" is not mentioned. Baruch Rivkin, a Jewish anarchist who wrote extensively on "Yiddishland," does not even appear once in the book. Jewish anarchists played a extremely significant role in shaping Yiddishland and should not be erased from Jewish radical history.
Why do Communists (Verso books is Communist) have such a long history of betraying and erasing anarchists, Jewish anarchists, and Jews from history?
As history it deserves 2 stars at best. As enlightenment for the causes of "anti-semitism" it deserves 4, so I give it 3.