The Jews of Khazaria

The Jews of Khazaria

4.8 6
by Kevin Alan Brook
     
 

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The Jews of Khazaria chronicles the history of the Khazars, a people who, in the early Middle Ages, founded a large empire in eastern Europe (located in present-day Ukraine and Russia). The Khazars played a pivotal role in world history. Khazaria was one of the largest-sized political formations of its time, an economic and cultural superpower connected to several

Overview

The Jews of Khazaria chronicles the history of the Khazars, a people who, in the early Middle Ages, founded a large empire in eastern Europe (located in present-day Ukraine and Russia). The Khazars played a pivotal role in world history. Khazaria was one of the largest-sized political formations of its time, an economic and cultural superpower connected to several important trade routes. It was especially notable for its religious tolerance, and in the 9th century, a large portion of the royal family converted to Judaism. Many of the nobles and commoners did likewise shortly thereafter. After their conversion, the Khazars were ruled by a succession of Jewish kings that began to adopt the hallmarks of Jewish civilization, including the Torah and Talmud, the Hebrew script, and the observance of Jewish holidays. In this thoroughly revised edition of a modern classic, The Jews of Khazaria explores many exciting new discoveries about the Khazars' religious life, economy, military, government, and culture. It builds upon new studies of the Khazars, evaluating and incorporating recent theories, along with new documentary and archaeological findings. The book gives a comprehensive accounting of the cities, towns, and fortresses of Khazaria, and features a timeline summarizing key events in Khazar history.

Editorial Reviews

Seth Ward
"Over a millennium after the kingdom's disastrous wars with the Kievan Rus, the Khazar story still has an alluring mystique... Kevin Alan Brook presents the findings of an impressive array of scholarship, referencing primary sources and secondary scholarship written in Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Armenian, Russian, Hungarian, Swedish and other languages. He begins with legends about the Khazars' origins - ascription to the biblical Togarma or to one of the Ten Lost Tribes - and attempts to reconstruct the historical process by which Turkic peoples came to settle in the area between Crimea and the Caspian and coalesce into the Khazar Kingdom. Jews also settled there... The Jewish presence in Crimea and beyond increased with refugees from Persian persecution in the 5th century and from the increasing severity of Byzantine anti-Jewish legislation. Brook discusses the Khazar cities one by one, as well as the imperial structure... He describes lifestyles and trade patterns (including visits of the Jewish Radhanite merchants), before turning to the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism... [T]he last Khazar kagan, who became a Christian, was defeated in 1016. Brook notes that some scholars muse about Khazar revivals in the next two centuries, up to the Mongol invasions, but argues that it is difficult to verify these claims... The Jews of Khazaria is broad in scope; often, however, the book reads more like an annotated bibliography than a tight narrative... A highly useful, comprehensive chronology is given as an appendix... By accepting Judaism, Khazar Jews became part of the overall Jewish community... Far from being [merely] a romantic interlude whose brief existence sparked the imagination of generations, Brook's volume shows that the Khazar experience is intrinsic to the narrative of Jewish history."
The Jewish Quarterly Review
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Jewish Studies
...[Brook] has provided a useful reference work for all those intrigued by the most striking single case of successful Jewish proselytism, as well as for those interested in the affairs of one of the four great powers of western Eurasia in the early middle ages.
(Review Of First Edition) The Jewish Quarterly Review
Far from being [merely] a romantic interlude whose brief existence sparked the imagination of generations, Brook's volume shows that the Khazar experience is intrinsic to the narrative of Jewish history.
Winter 2009 Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Jewish Studies
Kevin Alan Brook, thirty years on, strives, with considerable success, to satisfy the appetite for information about the Khazars which Koestler generated. The Jews of Khazaria is, in essence, a compendium of information gathered from every available source. . . . He has provided a useful reference work for all those intrigued by the most striking single case of successful Jewish proselytism, as well as for those interested in the affairs of one of the four great powers of western Eurasia in the early middle ages....[Brook] should be complimented on the trouble which he has taken to assemble so much information, out of so many disparate sources. He has provided a useful reference work.
August 2008 The Chronicle Herald
A comprehensive study. . . . Acquaintance with this book will be . . . useful.
Fall 2007 Jewish Book World
Kevin Alan Brook has decided to look behind the various views of the Khazars and produce a non-ideological work that examines the little-known but critical moment in world history. In a deadpan voice that one could attribute to a scholarly Joe Friday, Brooks provides us with the facts, only the facts. And, it's a good thing, because the facts are fascinating.
Edward J. Lazzerini
This second, revised edition of Kevin Brook's well-received publication in 1999 of The Jews of Khazaria, integrates important new data culled from ongoing archaeological digs in southern Russia and the Crimea, genetic results of DNA processing, examination of formerly unknown or ignored coin hordes, and the continuing research of scholars around the world. It succeeds in elucidating controversial issues, while contextualizing the Khazar polity within the competitive 9th-11th-century world of Byzantium, the Arab Caliphate, and two regional upstarts: the Dnepr-based aggregate of Nordic, Slavic, and Turkic peoples known as Rus', and the Turkic-Islamic kaganate of Bulgar flourishing in the middle and upper Volga territory. As a full exploration in English of the history and culture of the Khazars, this volume is without equal, and would be quite useful reading in courses focused on the Kievan period of Russian history, as well as broader ones treating the dynamics of Central Eurasian history during these lively and formative centuries.
Outlook
Brook...has a passion for his topic....I for one am grateful for the mass of material he provides.
Journal Of Near Eastern Studies
Kevin Alan Brook's The Jews of Khazaria is the first work since Douglas Dunlop's 1967 History of the Jewish Khazars to provide a comprehensive account of Khazar history. ... the work synthesizes a vast array of secondary literature into a concise and readable digest. ... Beyond providing a current and accessible introduction to this topic, the work is extremely valuable for its consolidation of this disparate material. ...

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442203020
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
09/27/2006
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
877 KB

Meet the Author

Kevin Alan Brook is an historian who has researched the Khazars since 1993. He has contributed articles about the Khazars to The Encyclopaedia of Judaism Second Edition (Brill, 2005) and The Turks Vol. 1 (Yeni Turkiye, 2002). Since 1995, Brook has maintained the website of the American Center of Khazar Studies (Khazaria.com).

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The Jews of Khazaria 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PaulHosse1 More than 1 year ago
Controversial and riveting. These are the two words which first come to mind after reading Kevin Allen Brook's book, "The Jews of Khazaria". The book examines, first, who the Khazars were and where they came from. It manages to piece together from scant history these mysterious peoples who, within a relatively short period of time went to a group of unknown Asiatic tribes, subjected by many, including Attila the Hun, to become the central player in Eastern European and Central Asian politics. Khazaria maintains near domination of the Silk Road from China. It absorbed the shock of the expanding Moslem hordes and in the process both protected European trade routes, culture, and religion from the expanding Islamic Empire. Yet, in the end, despite its strategic importance, Khazaria falls and the Jews are once again scattered to the winds. During this turbulent process, Khazaria become the first Jewish nation since the fall of Judah and Israel. Why would a conglomeration of Asiatic tribes, who, for perhaps thousands of years, followed a nature oriented shamanic path, adopt a mono-theocratic Middle Eastern religion? Where did these once economically and politically powerful people go after the fall of their nation? What became of their craftsmen and artisans, for which they were renowned? Even more to the point, who are Ashkenazis of Eastern Europe and are they somehow related to the Khazars? An excellent read for anyone interested is Judaism, Islam, the Byzantine Empire, ancient history, or just likes a good historical mystery!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about the fascinating ancient Jewish People of Khazaria. The book is brilliant. The material in the book is fundamental and rich. It is excellently written with academic objectivity and a positive attitude toward historical facts. The organization of writing is original. It doesn't include color illustration or ornaments, but you can feel around the open space of a wide panorama. Turn the page and you can 'hear' the sound of the Caspian sea... turn more and you can 'see' Mongolian horsemen and Khazarian people. For young inquisitive minds as well as for learned religious elite this book opens myriad new avenues to look at, to love Jewish people and to be proud of them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brook does an excellent job in broaching this topic that many have attempted before him, and I'm sure many will attempt after. Considering how little is known about Khazaria, how much history has been either censored or re-written by the former Soviet Union, and the relatively sparse amount of archaeological work that has been conducted in the region, Brook brings much information to light, detailing the tribal and linguistic origins of the Khazars. In comparison with Koestler's 'The Thirteenth Tribe,' Brook's work is more about presenting facts than coming to conclusions. I would encourage everyone interested in this book, this subject and in modern Judaism in general to remember that 'conclusions' are based on current and past knowledge, not on future discoveries. Sarkel is still under water and will continue to be for the foreseeable future -- who knows what information it holds? People have been twisting the ideas and findings discussed in 'The Thirteenth Tribe' and 'The Jews of Khazaria' to promote hatred for Jews for quite some time. That's not the purpose of these works, as Arthur Koestler himself addressed at the end of 'The Thirteenth Tribe.' I've also used the bibliography to further my own knowledge, although I have found that many of the sources are out-of-print. I look forward to learning more about the Khazars, who they were and who they became -- for today, I highly recommend Brook's 'The Jews of Khazaria.' It is excellently written, a fascinating work and will open it's readers eyes to some lesser known history. Savor it, but don't rush to judgement!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really helped me understand every aspect of the Khazars. From culture to government, i learned it all. I knew the Jewish people were dispersed throughout the world but I never imagined there was a Jewish empire in southern Russia.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first comprehensive history on the Jews of Khazaria. Another necessity in the library devoted to the origins of the Jewish people.