The distinguished historian of the Jewish people, Howard M. Sachar, gives us a comprehensive and enthralling chronicle of the achievements and traumas of the Jews over the last four hundred years.
Tracking their fate from Western Europe’s age of mercantilism in the seventeenth century to the post-Soviet and post-imperialist Islamic upheavals of the twenty-first century, Sachar applies his renowned narrative skill to the central role of the Jews in many of the most impressive achievements of modern civilization: whether in the rise of economic capitalism or of political socialism; in the discoveries of theoretical physics or applied medicine; in “higher” literary criticism or mass communication and popular entertainment.
As his account unfolds and moves from epoch to epoch, from continent to continent, from Europe to the Americas and the Middle East, Sachar evaluates communities that, until lately, have been underestimated in the perspective of Jewish and world history—among them, Jews of Sephardic provenance, of the Moslem regions, and of Africa. By the same token, Sachar applies a master’s hand in describing and deciphering the Jews’ unique exposure and functional usefulness to totalitarian movements—fascist, Nazi, and Stalinist. In the process, he shines an unsparing light on the often widely dissimilar behavior of separate European peoples, and on separate Jewish populations, during the Holocaust.
A distillation of the author’s lifetime of scholarly research and teaching experience, A History of the Jews in the Modern World provides a source of unsurpassed intellectual richness for university students and educated laypersons alike.
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|Title of eBook: A History of the Jews in the Modern World|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House, Inc.|
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A History of the Jews in the Modern World
The Jew as Non-European
A Tremulous Minority In the eighteenth century, a majestic silhouette of battlements and spires greeted the traveler who made his way down the valley of the lower Main River. It was the profile of Frankfurt, one of the four remaining free cities of the Holy Roman Empire, and one of the German world’s three most important commercial entrepôts. Frankfurt’s cobblestoned streets teemed with movement, with shouting hucksters, bawling cattle driven in for sale and slaughter, rattling vegetable carts pushed along to market, paunchy burghers and weather-beaten farmers arguing the cost and quality of produce. But as the traveler continued down the main Sachsenhäuser Bridge into the city’s principal business center, pausing occasionally to sample the wares in shops and pavilions, stalls and warehouses, he found his way barred by the Börheimertor, a large wooden gate demarcating still another townlet within the larger urban area, a ganglion of twisting alleys, ramshackle storefronts and cramped apartment structures. The gate’s solitary entrance, guarded by an armed warden, suggested that a prison community may have been locked inside. The notion was not entirely far-fetched. The little enclosure was the Judengasse, the ghetto of the Jews.
The ghetto of Frankfurt-am-Main, and comparable enclaves in scores of other towns and cities throughout West-Central Europe, evinced a central fact of Jewish life well into the Modern Era. This was the Jews’ indeterminate status as non-Europeans. It is fair to speculate, then, whether the Jews were foreigners or interlopers. Were they voluntary