From the Publisher
"Adam Kirsch has produced a charming and absorbing apercu into one of the most fascinating statesmen of modern history. A delightful read.:
Howard M. Sachar, author of A History of Israel
"Kirsch has written an important and compelling book about Benjamin Disraeli, the first Jewish prime minister of England, who famously replied, 'Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.' This engaging biography gives nuance and meaning to one of the most enigmatic men of the Victorian era."
Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
Disraeli was not a man who was easily discouraged. His strong desire to impress others led him in the unusual direction of provocativeness rather than ingratiation. He did not want to escape his English milieu, he wanted to triumph within it. He did indeed triumph, achieving everything in his life that he set out to achieve. It was an extraordinary career, one to which Kirsch, in this elegantly written book, does considerable justice.
The New York Times
Although he was a practicing Christian, baptized into the Church of England at age 12, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli's (1804-1881) Jewishness was a central fact about him. Drawing on previous biographies, histories of English Jewry and Disraeli's autobiographical novels and other writings, poet and New York Sun book critic Kirsch (Invasions) interprets Disraeli's life as emblematic of "both the possibilities of emancipation for European Jewry, and its subtle impossibilities." Kirsch sheds welcome light on Disraeli's father's ambivalence toward Judaism and his decision to baptize his children; the crude Jew-baiting Disraeli encountered at school and, later, in politics; his imagining Palestine as the site of Jewish national sovereignty; his ascent in the Conservative party, which, Kirsch says, was paradoxically a testament to English liberalism; and the half-century rivalry between Disraeli and Gladstone that defined Victorian politics. Two of Disraeli's greatest political achievements, recounted here, are the passage of a bill that broadly expanded voting rights and the purchase, with a loan from his Rothschild friends, of a share in the Suez Canal Company for the British government. This is a lively, inquiring biography that reveals the prideful, exceptional man behind the famous politician. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.