Customer Reviews: The Thirteenth Tribe: The Kazar Empire and Its Heritage
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on June 23, 2011
The Thirteenth Tribe, Arthur Koestler

Arthur Koestler was born in Budapest, studied science and psychology in Vienna, and became a foreign correspondent for various European newspapers. He covered the Spanish Civil War, and later joined the French Foreign Legion, then the British Army. His most famous novel is "The Darkness at Noon". This 1976 book discusses the ancient Khazar Empire that flourished in the Dark Ages, the seventh to the tenth centuries between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, an area called Caucasia where the Aryans originated. They were wiped out by the forces of Genghis Khan. Some took refuge in Eastern Europe and had an impact on the racial composition and social heritage of modern Jewry.

Part One tells of the "Rise and Fall of the Khazars". Their cavalry was the origin of the word "Hussar". They adopted Judaism to avoid becoming a vassal of either the Christian ruler in Constantinople or the Moslem ruler in Babylon. Previously they worshiped pagan gods. Chapter III tells about their state at its peak. Emperor Leo the Khazar ruled Byzantium in 775-780. The invasions by Vikings or Norsemen affected many nations around Khazaria. The Khazar state disappeared by the end of the 13th century (p.132).

Part Two discusses "The Heritage" after the Mongol invasion. Khazar people migrated to the west (eastern Europe), such as in Hungary (p.142). The Black Death also depopulated the former Khazar heartland (p.144). Place names in the Ukraine and Poland are derived from `Khazar' or `Zhid' (p.145). The Polish kingdom attracted immigrants (p.149). Chapter VI discusses the migration of Jews into Europe since Roman times. The Black Death killed many, and led to the persecution of the Jews. Yiddish is an amalgam of Hebrew, medieval German, Slavonic, and other elements written in Hebrew characters (p.172). The `East-Middle German' dialects came from medieval Austria and Bavaria (p.173).

Chapter VIII discusses "Race and Myth" about the Sephardim and Ashkenazim. Physical anthropology shows too many differences among Jewish groups to form a race. In any nation there is a greater similarity between Jews and Gentiles than those in different countries. Interbreeding and proselytizing are noted in the Old Testament (p.187). The aquiline nose is found among North American Indians and various Caucasian tribes, but not among true Semites (p.191). A way of life affects not only facial expressions but also physical features (p.195).

Arthur Koestler tells about old friends who emigrated to the United States before World War II. They acquired "an American physiognomy" (p.195). [Ever notice how you can sometimes identify some Europeans as non-Americans by their face?] Koestler goes on to describe the effects of inbreeding, genetic drift, and selection. Koestler ends with his claim that world Jewry is of Khazar-Turkish rather than Semitic origin (p.199). The misconceptions about a "Jewish type" ignores geographic reality, social environment, and social inheritance. The four Appendices provide a background to this book.
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on January 16, 2012
Arthur Koestler deserved a lot of respect and admiration, for having the courage and willingness to explore a touchy and controversial subject for most anthropologists. The book was well-written and researched (Mr. Koestler was an established author and thinker), and he provided insightful anecdotes when documentary evidence was lacking. Anyone interested in reading this book, should have a better than average understanding of the history of the Jewish people (especially of the Diaspora and post-Diaspora), the Central Asian tribal groups, Western Europe (during the Dark Ages), and of the Byzantine Empire. But the reader should be open to divergent views of the history of the peoples in question. The author made a good case for his hypothesis, and presented this in a concise and sometimes humorous way, that demonstrated his own personal experience with bias and prejudice. Far more groups of races and nations on this earth: India, Persia, Egypt, Hellas, Judea, etc., etc. in the course of human history (especially in the Old World of Asia Minor), were/are interrelated than scholars and academics are willing to admit or explore for obvious reasons (they will not go against the status quo). There was nothing presented here that showed or suggested, that the Jewish people do not deserve our respect and admiration for retaining their unique identity and heritage. Especially, in a world that has treated them with the utmost hostility throughout most of their history, save for a few exceptions. I will be looking forward to reading more of Arthur Koestler's books. (BTW: "Darkness at Noon" is an excellent novel by Arthur Koestler, the book predates Orwell's "1984" by nine years, and their both very similar.)

Love and Peace,
Carlos Romero
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on March 31, 2013
Many Zionist propagandists have long attempted to cast aspirations and insults on the intellectual Mr. Koestler who wrote his book in 1976 on the basis of history, archaeology, and likely most crucially of all DEMOGRAPHICS (i.e. there is NO logical way to explain the large size of the Eastern European Jewish population at the start of the 20th century CE without the Khazarian hypothesis!) and today Koestler has been proven to be CORRECT in the newest and definitive genetic study on the issue by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine geneticist Dr. Eran Elhaik, Ph.D. from the prestigious Peer-Reviewed scientific journal Genome Biology and Evolution published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

"The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses" by Dr. Eran Elhaik


The question of Jewish ancestry has been the subject of controversy for over two centuries and has yet to be resolved. The "Rhineland hypothesis" depicts Eastern European Jews as a "population isolate" that emerged from a small group of German Jews who migrated eastward and expanded rapidly. Alternatively, the "Khazarian hypothesis" suggests that Eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars, an amalgam of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries CE and converted to Judaism in the 8th century. Mesopotamian and Greco-Roman Jews continuously reinforced the Judaized empire until the 13th century. Following the collapse of their empire, the Judeo-Khazars fled to Eastern Europe. The rise of European Jewry is therefore explained by the contribution of the Judeo-Khazars. Thus far, however, the Khazars' contribution has been estimated only empirically, as the absence of genome-wide data from Caucasus populations precluded testing the Khazarian hypothesis. Recent sequencing of modern Caucasus populations prompted us to revisit the Khazarian hypothesis and compare it with the Rhineland hypothesis. We applied a wide range of population genetic analyses to compare these two hypotheses. Our findings support the Khazarian hypothesis and portray the European Jewish genome as a mosaic of Near Eastern-Caucasus, European, and Semitic ancestries, thereby consolidating previous contradictory reports of Jewish ancestry. We further describe a major difference among Caucasus populations explained by the early presence of Judeans in the Southern and Central Caucasus. Our results have important implications for the demographic forces that shaped the genetic diversity in the Caucasus and for medical studies.


Gene study settles debate over origin of European Jews

(AFP) - Jan 16, 2013

PARIS -- Jews of European origin are a mix of ancestries, with many hailing from tribes in the Caucasus who converted to Judaism and created an empire that lasted half a millennium, according to a gene study.

The investigation, its author says, should settle a debate that has been roiling for more than two centuries.

Jews of European descent, often called Ashkenazis, account for some 90 percent of the more than 13 million Jews in the world today.

According to the so-called Rhineland Hypothesis, Ashkenazis descended from Jews who progressively fled Palestine after the Moslem conquest of 638 AD.

They settled in southern Europe and then, in the late Middle Ages, about 50,000 of them moved from the Rhineland in Germany into eastern Europe, according to the hypothesis.

But detractors say this idea is implausible.

Barring a miracle --which some supporters of the Rhineland Hypothesis have in fact suggested -- the scenario would have been demographically impossible.

It would mean that the population of Eastern European Jews leapt from 50,000 in the 15th century to around eight million at the start of the 20th century.

That birth rate would have been 10 times greater than that of the local non-Jewish population. And it would have occurred despite economic hardship, disease, wars and pogroms that ravaged Jewish communities.

Seeking new light in the argument, a study published in the British journal Genome Biology and Evolution, compares the genomes of 1,287 unrelated individuals who hail from eight Jewish and 74 non-Jewish populations.

Geneticist Eran Elhaik of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, trawled through this small mountain of data in search of single changes in the DNA code that are linked to a group's geographical origins.

Such telltales have been used in past research to delve into the origins of the Basque people and the pygmy people of central Africa.

Among European Jews, Elhaik found ancestral signatures that pointed clearly to the Caucasus and also, but to a smaller degree, the Middle East.

The results, said Elhaik, give sound backing for the rival theory -- the "Khazarian Hypothesis."

Under this concept, eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars, a hotchpotch of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries AD and, influenced by Jews from Palestine, converted to Judaism in the 8th century.

The Judeo-Khazars built a flourishing empire, drawing in Jews from Mesopotamia and imperial Byzantium.

They became so successful that they sent offshoots into Hungary and Romania, planting the seeds of a great diaspora.

But Khazaria collapsed in the 13th century when it was attacked by the Mongols and became weakened by outbreaks of the Black Death.

The Judeo-Khazars fled westwards, settling in the rising Polish Kingdom and in Hungary, where their skills in finance, economics and politics were in demand, and eventually spread to central and western Europe, according to the "Khazarian Hypothesis."

"We conclude that the genome of European Jews is a tapestry of ancient populations including Judaised Khazars, Greco-Roman Jews, Mesopotamian Jews and Judeans," says Elhaik.

"Their population structure was formed in the Caucasus and the banks of the Volga, with roots stretching to Canaan and the banks of the Jordan."

Many things are unknown about the Khazars, whose tribal confederation gathered Slavs, Scythians, Hunnic-Bulgars, Iranians, Alans and Turks.

But, argues Elhaik, the tale sketched in the genes is backed by archaeological findings, by Jewish literature that describes the Khazars' conversion to Judaism, and by language, too.

"Yiddish, the language of Central and Eastern European Jews, began as a Slavic language" before being reclassified as High German, he notes.

Another pointer is that European Jews and their ancestral groups in the Caucasus and Middle East share a relatively high risk of diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

The investigation should help fine-tune a fast-expanding branch of genomics, which looks at single-change DNA mutations that are linked with inherited disease, adds Elhaik.

Copyright © 2013 AFP.
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on July 29, 2011
This book made me to learn more about the origin of the so called Askenazi Jews who are actually Europeans and have now constituted as ninety percent of jews now.I would recommend this book for people to know that the Askenazi Jews are not the same as the Shepherdic Jews
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on July 3, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. Its about 200 pages, with about another 50 in references. It shows conclusively that the majority of European, or Ashkenazi Jews, are descendent from Europeans that converted to Judaism and have no physical connection to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.

The book is a fascinating history of the Khazar kingdom that flourished for about 300 years in what is now known as Ukraine, with its prime at about 850 AD. It was an emerging practical trend for countries/kingdoms/states to adopt in mass one of the four major Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Islam, or one of the two Christian branches of Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox. But at that time the religions each had powerful leaders whose strength was used to dominate and extract money from its member kingdoms. So the Khazar king choose Judaism to be different from each of his adjacent states.

It also goes into great detail about the emerging states and kingdoms around Khazaria that evolved into today's Poland, Hungary, and Russia. It provides a clear picture of invading Vikings sailing down the Volga river from the Baltic Sea, cutting across the Volga-Orr portage, and continuing to the Black Sea.

This is not a novel, or a historical novel, but a well researched history book on a focused subject. But I picked it up I couldn't put it down -the writing was that clear and the subject that interesting.

After 9/11 and terrorist Osama Bin Laden giving six reasons for attacking the US, with Israel and support of Israel being four of them, we are all interested in what exactly we are supporting there. We have been told that we are supporting Jews; Jews who are a semitic people descendent from ancient Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And we have been told that they were so persecuted up until and during WWII that the only solution is to give them their own country out of what was once their own country.

The creation of Israel created lots of problems. It created a humanitarian nightmare with the Palestinians who lived and live there. We, someone 6000 miles away, gave their home to someone else 1000 miles away. But what the book does is show us beyond any reasonable doubt that the European Jews might need compensation or a solution for their situation, but their claim to being the 'Promised' is unquestionably a false one.

Whatever your motivation for reading this well-written book, I hope you find it as fascinating and enlightening as I did.
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on March 9, 2015
This book is packed with details of ancient history from many peoples in the Caucasus region, not just about the Khazars, and you will be as surprised as I was to learn of these many hidden details of these peoples. If you enjoy history, this is the book to get. The only downside of this book is that it is advertised as being 318 pages and the paperback edition I was sent was only 255 pages. There seems to be 63 pages missing. I don't know if this will have any bearing on the message Koestler wanted to convey or not, but I wanted everyone to be aware of this discrepancy. Overall, it was still well worth getting from the information it contained and I believe, from other sources that I also know of, that Koestler proves his thesis of the Khazars NOT being ethnic Jews, since even their own King Joseph gives a detailed linage proving heritage back to JAPETH, NOT Abraham, and scholars have verified the authenticity of this record. We all have our own particular "beliefs" that we can justify to not believe what Koestler states in this book but it's kind of hard to argue with facts. As Benjamin Disraeli once said: "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics" and this book is loaded with statistics that can't be argued with nor refuted, just ignored or not believed!!! Get the book get educated, and you decide the Truth of what is presented.
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on April 8, 2013
Koestler's book is essential for anyone who wants to learn more about the origin of today's Jews. After establishing their Gentile ancestry in the Kingdom of Khazaria, he described their conversion first to the written law of Moses (Karaism), and subsequently to the more sophisticated form of Judaism as defined by the Babylonian Talmud.

From this point onwards, the Kingdom went downhill. Although previously strong, it could no longer fight off the threats from outside. Soon the capital city of Itil was sacked, and within a century or two Khazariah disappeared as a kingdom, although scattered tribes remained for a century or two.

I was especially intrigued by one particular passage. In it, Koestler related the conversation between Khazar missionaries who visited Prince Vladimir of Russia in 986 AD, to try and convert him to Judaism. During their conversation a little-known fact emerged, when they told him that "God got angry with our fathers, and therefore scattered us all over the world and gave our land to the Christians" (from the Russian Chronicle). This is something I never knew, that Judea (now Palestine) had become predominantly Christian during the first millennium AD!

Following the collapse of Khazaria, Koestler described the westward migration of the Khazars, now identifying as Ashkenazi Jews. As he retraced their steps, examining every conceivable detail, you feel like you're travelling with a seasoned detective for whom no clue is too insignificant.

After firmly establishing the origin of today's Ashkenazi Jews, he turned to the origin of Sephardic Jews, which is far more authentically Israelite. He then moved on to many other things defining 'race', from culture, to facial features, to genetics. His conclusion is that there has been so much intermarriage over the centuries, between the Khazars/Ashkenazim and the people amongst whom they lived, that one is hard pressed to find any significant racial distinction. In other words, the claim of a distinct Ashkenazi Jewish racial identity is wishful thinking at best, on the part of some.

Koestler's style is refreshingly neutral, with no sense that he's pushing private theories, and no apologies for what he must have known would be an unpopular conclusion. I was also impressed with his depth of knowledge, which revealed many long hours in dusty libraries, poring over obscure texts in foreign languages.

To summarise, his book contains information which you won't find anywhere else. It's an absolute gem.
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on February 3, 2014
This book articulates very well that those who claim to be Jews, Jewish, founders of Judaism(when the J is only 400yrs old anyways) are not the Europeans that claim to be so, nor the ones in the land of Israel. This book cuts to the core of some of the deepest lies this world has been perpetuating for over a 1000yrs. The Khazarian conversion is proof in itself that those that claim they are Jews aren't even from the line of Shem, much less from the descendants of Jacob. This book should bring Revelations 2:9 & 3:9 to mind.
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on June 26, 2013
It would be intellectually dishonest to dismiss Koestler without reading him. If you can't keep your opinions flexible, going in, you are going to have some rough sailing. As with much of obscure history, the "pop history" taught in universities comes off the rails when placed side by side with this one. I will see that all my grandchildren have a copy, and will urge them to read it.
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on November 18, 2014
I had no idea how interesting the history of places I had never heard of, and times I knew nothing about, could be! This picture of one tribe in the dark and middle ages in Europe and Asia filled in many gaps in my knowledge and kept me eagerly turning pages, while marvelling at the extraordinary grasp of detail the author displayed.

I thank R. Roth for his update about genetics. All readers should acquaint themselves with his review, and, please, fellow readers, don't blame Arthur Koestler for not knowing what had not been discovered yet!
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