Jews and the Military: A History

Jews and the Military: A History

by Derek J. Penslar
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

"This book shatters the conventional image of diaspora Jews as a people who shun warfare. With exemplary scholarship and a gimlet eye for telling historical evidence, Derek Penslar analyzes Jewish participation in armies from the seventeenth century to the present. Wide-ranging in its scope, original in its argument, and elegant in its presentation, this is the

See more details below

Overview

"This book shatters the conventional image of diaspora Jews as a people who shun warfare. With exemplary scholarship and a gimlet eye for telling historical evidence, Derek Penslar analyzes Jewish participation in armies from the seventeenth century to the present. Wide-ranging in its scope, original in its argument, and elegant in its presentation, this is the work of a master historian at the peak of his powers."—Bernard Wasserstein, author of On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War

"Derek Penslar's Jews and the Military reminds us of the importance of great historians. It has been a common belief, especially in Israel, that diaspora Jews before the advent of political Zionism lacked the will to fight. Penslar shows us, in his astute and meticulous way, that Jews not only fought, but also had the courage to do so while struggling with hybrid, sometimes clashing identities. An illuminating book."—Bernard Avishai, author of Promiscuous: "Portnoy's Complaint" and Our Doomed Pursuit of Happiness

"By changing Jewish historical accounts of engagement in war from the passive to the active voice, Derek Penslar transforms our understanding of continuities between the history of the diaspora and the military culture of the Yishuv and the state of Israel. A strikingly original study, Penslar's book rearranges the scholarship of major facets of modern Jewish history."—Jay Winter, Yale University

"This book recovers the history of the Jewish soldier in the diaspora—from the seventeenth century to the middle of the twentieth century—and connects it to the early military history of the state of Israel. Combining a consummate command of the extant scholarship with sophisticated analysis, and encompassing a broad array of questions and sources, this is social and cultural history at its best. There is absolutely nothing else like it in any language."—David Sorkin, City University of New York, Graduate Center

"This book offers a new comparative history of state policy toward Jewish army service and rethinks modern Jewish political culture through the lens of military service. Demolishing the myth of diaspora Jewish pacifism, Penslar shows that attitudes toward soldiering and citizenship in Israeli political culture were anticipated in diaspora Jewish assimilationist and integrationist visions. Jewish historians, historians of modern Europe, and many others will want to read this book."—Kenneth B. Moss, Johns Hopkins University

Read More

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Anna Altman
Penslar offers a deep perspective on what appears to be a dry question, but he enlivens his study with literary references and a wide-ranging history that offers revelations on nationalism, empire and identity.
From the Publisher
Shortlisted for the 2014 Sophie Brody Medal, Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association

"Penslar offers a deep perspective . . . he enlivens his study with literary references and a wide-ranging history that offers revelations on nationalism, empire, and identity."—Anna Altman, New York Times Book Review

"This work of meticulous scholarship, based on sources in seven languages, sets out to correct deeply ingrained myths concerning Jews and military service. Drawing on evidence from the 17th century onward, Penslar puts to rest the common notions that Jews were wholly unsuited to be soldiers—too physically feeble, inherently cowardly, and disinterested to fight for the countries where they happened to be living. . . . This important book is balanced in its judgments and full of useful information."Choice

"Penslar shows very effectively that there was a lot of middle ground between Jews of the Mosaic persuasion who disavowed any special connection with their foreign coreligionists and ardent Zionists who denied that the Jews could ever really belong to a nation other than their own. . . . Many [Jewish Historians] will no doubt be tantalized into pursuing the innumerable fascinating leads that Penslar provides."—Allan Arkush, Jewish Review of Books

"Remarkable. . . . [A] fascinating, meticulous survey."—Lawrence Freedman, Jewish Chronicle

"It is wide-ranging, in history and in the coverage of countries. . . . This is a very well-researched book, and the author has used publications in a number of languages."—Harold Pollins, Bulletin of the Military Historical Society

"Jews and the Military is a thoughtful and very readable study. . . . Penslar's work clearly demonstrates that the story of Jews in the military is not a case of all or nothing; the truth is somewhere in between."—Catherine D. Chatterley, American Historical Review

"Professor Penslar's book treats Jews and the military, perhaps for the first time, as a coherent subject of study rather than a series of individual conflicts. . . . To write a book on a single subject is challenge enough. To range across such a vast canvas of history and geography, through the prism of a coherent unity, is a remarkable achievement."—Jonathan Lewis, Jewish Historical Studies

"This book offers remarkably new ways of thinking about the relationship between Jews and the military beyond the context of modern Israel. It also weaves Jewish history, which is so often disconnected from scholarship on the predominantly Gentile countries in which the vast majority of the world's Jews lived for centuries, into larger historiographies in a way that makes the text stimulating reading for specialists in a variety of fields."—Christopher Tozzi, The Journal of Modern History

"Penslar's pioneering volume is certain to become a core work in the field."—David Rodman, Israel Affairs

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691138879
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
10/06/2013
Pages:
376
Sales rank:
921,321
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >