The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE-1492 CE
This elegant history is, in the author’s words, ‘one of the heroism of everyday life as much as that of the grand tragedies…little revelations that add up to a culture, the prosaic along with the poetic’. He draws us in from the start with a letter from Jewish parents worrying about their soldier son in Egypt in 475 BC, and ends with the story of Rabbi Zacuto, who fled Spain with Ferdinand’s expulsion of the Jews in 1492, leaving behind an accurate astronomical work used by Columbus. Between these stories are dozens of others, adding up to an absorbing account of the heartbreaking, turbulent but always inspiring history of a resilient, creative people determined to survive. Simon Schama has used the latest discoveries which have transformed and enriched our understanding. There are well-chosen illustrations, clear maps, and a comprehensive bibliography. Part Two, When Words Fail: 1492-present day, follows in 2014.