Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492–1900

Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492–1900


The words that failed were words of hope. But they did not fail at all times and everywhere.

These gripping pages teem with words of defiance and optimism, sounds and images of tenacious life and adventurous modernism, music and drama, business and philosophy, poetry and politics. The second part of Simon Schama's epic Story of the Jews is neither overwhelmed by hopelessness nor shrouded in the smoke of the crematoria. As much as it gives full weight to the magnitude of the disaster that befell the Jews, it is a story of hope vindicated rather than wiped out.

The stories unfold across the world - in the provincial pavilions of Ming China and beneath the brass chandeliers of Rembrandt's Amsterdam; on ships and carts, stage-coaches and railway trains crossing oceans and continents; in the honky-tonk of San Francisco and the pampas of Argentina, the department stores of Berlin and the avenues of Trieste. The stories themselves are played on the stage of opera houses; in the travelling camera of an expedition in Ukraine, the prison cells of Stalin's Russia, the lagers of the Holocaust; the scenery of misery and redemption in Palestine and Israel.

At the heart of the story is the budding belief that peoples of different faiths, customs and cultures can be fellow-citizens of a common country.

And amidst all the brutality, somehow the light of Jewish endurance is never extinguished. The odyssey is unforgettable, the storyteller impassioned, the words unfailing.

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Title:Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492–1900
Edition Language:English
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    Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492–1900 Reviews

  • Paul

    This second volume of Simon Schama's history of the Jewish people begins in the ghettos of Venice where the Jews of the Iberian peninsula had ended up after being expelled. Those that had not escaped ...

  • Paulo Reimann

    Let's put it that way......I highly respect Schama and recognize in him a great intellectual. I was looking for something that entertains me without the scholarship flavourful the book provides. My ba...

  • Wing

    In this painfully beautiful 700-page second instalment, Schama has given us a string of exquisitely vivid vignettes about the tenacity of an inextinguishable culture that perennially wandered and suff...

  • Richard Block

    Belonging NowhereSparkling prose, insightful analysis and personal stories that make a larger point are what distinguish Simon Schama's histories. This one hits the bullseye in every respect, making i...

  • Barbara

    This is a mammoth book - 700 pages of Simon Schama's inimitable and dazzling way of telling history through the stories of individuals. And what characters they are - rich and poor, learned and unlear...

  • Sara Laor

    A very heavy book, and I certainly felt that I was in a multi-mirrored house of Jewish horrors spanning the many centuries and continents. It's hard to feel uplifted after reading this magisterial and...

  • Riet

    Een schitterend vervolg op zijn eerste deel van de Geschiedenis van de Joden. Schama is een echte verteller. De geschiedenis wordt steeds verbonden aan mensen van vlees en bloed, wat het allemaal zeer...

  • Caroline

    As expected, fascinating, especially where figures I recognize from art history appear as significant players in their worlds. A large, densely printed tome unsuited to being toted about, so rather sl...

  • Murray Braun

    Read the first four chapters which deal with the 16th century. Compared with "A Convenient Hatred: History of Anti-Semitism," there is little if anything written about Luther and the importance of the...

  • Simon Harrison

    Schama’s usual light touch, deployed to make the longer reads no issue, is widely dispersed in Belonging. It feels like a slog. Good but not Schama-Great. ...