Where did the Jews come from? How did they retain their strong sense of community through centuries of dispersion? How have the Jews of the present, with their proud ethnic identity and thriving national home, emerged out of the downtrodden Jews of the past? Such questions arise naturally in the minds of anyone contemplating the long history of Jewish people. In one concise, authoritative volume, A Short History of the Jewish People provides insights and answers.
This sweeping and highly informative work presents the major geographical, cultural, and political forces that have determined the course of Jewish history, introducing the many individuals, both religious and secular, who have shaped the character, mindset, and prospects of the Jewish people. Organized chronologically, the narrative follows the Jewish experience from legendary times to the peace agreements currently being negotiated in the Middle East. And, to give this overview an international and timely perspective, Raymond P. Scheindlin focuses his study on the pivotal events and dominant communities within each historical period.
Written by a respected Hebrew scholar, cultural historian, noted author, and rabbi, A Short History of the Jewish People carefully describes the story of a people as varied as the many cultures in which they have lived. Including detailed maps and stirring photos, as well as timelines and sidebars, this pioneering work is a valuable resource for anyone broadly curious about the Jewish people.
"Jewish history is often told not as a narrative of real people with human problems and interests but as an idealized national myth," writes Raymond Scheinlin, in the introduction to his excellent A Short History of the Jewish People. Scheinlin is an observant Jew, but his book is not a history of the Jewish religion. It is a history of Jewish tribes around the world and the ways "they have interacted with the nations and cultures among whom they have lived, adapting to their environment while retaining a variety of continuities." The book's brevity precludes exhaustiveness, but its focus on particular Jewish communities and its disciplined analysis of their political successes and foibles give readers a firm grasp on the movements in Jewish history that have shaped the Middle East, Europe, and America. Amply illustrated with maps and photographs, the fluid prose of Scheinlin's History make this book a useful starting point for anyone seeking a secular history of Judaism that is neither skeptical nor hostile to religion. --Michael Joseph Gross