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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