A History of the Jews in the Modern World

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A History of the Jews in the Modern World,  Howard M. Sachar, Vintage, December 18, 2007

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.From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author

Dr. Sachar received his undergraduate education at Swarthmore and took his graduate degrees at Harvard. He has taught Modern European, Jewish, and Middle Eastern history, and lived in the Middle East for six years, two of them on fellowship, the rest as founder-director of Brandeis University’s Hiatt Institute in Jerusalem. Dr. Sachar has contributed to many scholarly journals, is the author of numerous books, and the editor of the thirty-ninevolume The Rise of Israel: A Documentary History. He serves as Charles E. Smith Professor of history at George Washington University, is a consultant and lecturer on Middle Eastern affairs for numerous governmental bodies, and lectures widely in the United States and abroad.From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Starred Review. In this monumental and complex narrative, successor to his distinguished 1958 The Course of Modern Jewish History (substantially revised in 1990), Sachar, generally acknowledged as the preeminent scholar of modern Jewish history, proves himself to be not only a superb historian, but a compelling storyteller. The scope of this project is both exhilarating and daunting, including western and eastern Europe, America and the Middle East from the 17th century to the present; Sachar’s major themes include the history of anti-Semitism, the development of the nation state, the rise of European fascism and the immigration of Jews throughout Europe and to the Americas. Sachar has constructed this history with such adroitness that it is best read as a sweeping chronicle of not just Jewish but world history. As always, Sachar’s informal, almost conversational style is both inviting and accessible, whether sketching out the complicated position of Jews in Brazil during the country’s fight for independence from Portugal in 1824 or demonstrating how Jewish religious thinking was vital in the advancement of modern medicine. For both the general reader and the scholar, this is an important addition to the literature on both Jewish and Western history and culture. (Aug. 17)
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