A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, 1789-1939 (Oxford History of Modern Europe)

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9780198219804: A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, 1789-1939 (Oxford History of Modern Europe)

The twentieth century has seen both the greatest triumph of Jewish history (the birth of the nation of Israel) and its greatest tragedy (the state sponsored genocide of the Holocaust). A People Apart is the first study to examine the role played by the Jews themselves, across the whole of Europe, during the century and a half leading up to these events.
In this monumental work of history, David Vital explores the Jews' troubled relationship with Europe, documenting the struggles of this "nation without a territory" to establish a place for itself within an increasingly polarized and nationalist continent. The book ranges across the whole of the continent during this crucial period, examining Jewish communities in all the major countries, describing everything from incrementalism in England to the impenetrable hostility to be found in Germany. The author describes pogroms, poverty, and migration, the image of the Jew as revolutionary, the rise of Zionism and the "Palestinian idea," and much more. Vital is particularly interested in the dynamics within the Jewish community, examining the clash between politically neutral traditionalists and a new group of activists, whose unprecedented demands for national and political self-determination were stimulated both by increasing civil emancipation and the mounting effort to drive the Jews out of Europe altogether. The book ends on a controversial note, with Vital suggesting that the fate of the Jewish people was to some degree their own doing; at times, by their own autonomous action and choice; at others, by inaction and default.
This powerful and stimulating new analysis represents a watershed in our understanding of the history of the Jews in Europe.

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Review:

In 1744, at the height of the War of the Austrian Succession, Empress Maria Therese came to believe that the Jews of Prague were plotting against her, in league with Austria's Prussian enemies. She decided accordingly to expel every member of the city's long-established Jewish community--"a brutal sanction," Anglo-Israeli historian David Vital notes, that "would have put an entire population on to the roads of Europe to march through lands in which they were highly unlikely to be allowed to settle in search of one in which they might." Maria Therese relented eventually, but the Jews of her empire were reminded once again of their precarious position, always potential victims of a ruler's whim.

Half a century later, for the first time in European history, the Jews of France were accorded equal rights of citizenship in the wake of the revolution. From that time on, Vital writes in his encyclopedic history of Jews in early-modern Europe, secularism replaced the former hierarchy of ghetto leaders and rabbinical authority. Able to move more or less freely in the larger society, Jews no longer had to band together for protection, and in short order many of them played important roles in finance, government, and industry. Reaction to their rise was swift: with it came an increase in anti-Semitism and militant nationalism throughout Europe, opposition from both right and left. Their communities now weakened, Jews were ever more vulnerable to attacks by their enemies. These tendencies would culminate in Holocaust, a nightmare of history that, Vital shows, was decades in the making. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:


From 1977 to his retirement in 1995, David Vital was Nahum Goldmann Professor of Diplomacy at Tel Aviv University. He served in the Israeli government for eleven years, holding posts in the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's office, before returning to academia in 1965. He has taught at UCLA, Dartmouth, and Northwestern. He lives in Israel.

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Descrizione libro Oxford Univ Pr, 1999. Hardcover. Condizione libro: Brand New. 944 pages. 9.00x5.75x1.75 inches. In Stock. Codice libro della libreria zk0198219806

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