The Jews: History, Memory, and the Present (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism)

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Overview

Pierre Vidal-Naquet, internationally celebrated author of Assassins of Memory: Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust, here takes readers on a fascinating journey through key phases of Jewish history over more than two millennia. Drawing on a vast reservoir of historical knowledge, Vidal-Naquet unravels a series of myths and ideologies that have become entangled with Jewish history over the centuries. The Jews covers subjects as deep in the past as the Jewish encounter with Hellenization in the second century B.C.E., and as current as modern-day Israeli-Palestinian relations. The Jews opens in the classical period, looking in particular at the work of Flavius Josephus, who wrote the original account of the events at Masada. Resisting the powerful currents of ideological orthodoxy, Vidal-Naquet examines what he views as Israeli nationalist distortions of the historical and archaeological record at Masada. In the promotion of an ideal of Jewish unity in the ancient world, he contends, some have chosen to ignore evidence of pluralism, civil strife, and the power of the Diaspora experience in the Jewish past. The book continues with an engaging discussion of the era of Jewish emancipation in Europe, during the French Revolution and thereafter, in which Vidal-Naquet explores the complex meanings of emancipation and assimilation. Employing previously unexamined material written by Alfred Dreyfus himself, he continues with a reevaluation of the Dreyfus affair, the episode of anti-Semitism and betrayal that shook France at the turn of the century. The Jews explores books, films, and eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust, including works by Arno Mayer, Claude Lanzmann, and Primo Levi. The book looks also at a recently published wartime journal by Vidal-Naquet's father, written in the years before he was deported. Vidal-Naquet is equally concerned with the disturbing phenomenon of Holocaust denial, pointing to the question of the gas chambers as central to refuting revisio
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Editorial Reviews

Choice
A vivid presentation of one of France's most dynamic and original thinkers. . . .With sources ranging from classical texts to contemporary films and Holocaust testimonies, and enhanced by fascinating linguistic, philosophical, and political asides, Vidal-Naquet's book maintains a firm balance between textual criticism and analytic rigor, open inquiry and moral fervor, French republicanism and liberal ideals, Jewish tradition and universal values.
Forward
A significant contribution to the unending confrontation of history with mythology.
Jewish Book World
A provocative look into the Jewish past and its contemporary relevance.
Jewish Chronicle
Vidal-Naquet focuses on the way history, especially as it relates to Jews, has been distorted by mainstream cultures through history. In shedding light on this, he rescues for us the golden thread of historical truth that unites us with our ancestors.
New York Review of Books
Vidal-Naquet discusses Josephus and the Jewish War as a critical historian. He is no less demanding and critical when he turns to the modern era, but this time he writes also as a historian personally involved in the historical process he analyzes.
Washington Post Book World
The well-translated and coherently combined essays gathered in The Jews treat a range of issues from the ancient Jewish revolt against Roman rule and the much-mythologized martyrdom at Masada, the French Revolution, the Dreyfus Affair, and Marxism's difficulties with 'the Jewish Question, ' to Nazi genocide and the deep problems of representing it.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Translator's Note
Foreword
Preface to the English-Language Edition
1 Forms of Political Activity in the Jewish World, Principally Around the First Century C.E. 3
2 Flavius Josephus and Masada 20
3 Flavius Josephus and the Prophets 37
4 Apropos of Zakhor 57
5 The Privilege of Liberty 63
6 Dreyfus in the Affair and in History 82
7 Jewish Prism, Marxist Prism 113
8 The Hero, the Historian, and Choice 127
9 The Historian and the Test of Murder 136
10 The Shoah's Challenge to History 142
11 On an Interpretation of the Great Massacre: Arno Mayer and the "Final Solution" 151
12 And by the Power of a Word ... 163
13 A Wonderful School... 171
14 The Harmonics of Szymon Laks 179
15 Presentation of a Document: The Journal of Attorney Lucien Vidal-Naquet 186
16 Reflections at the Margins of a Tragedy 203
17 Return to Israel 213
18 "Inquiry Into a Massacre" 228
19 The Anti-Peace Colonists 231
20 Recollections of a Witness: Protestants and Jews During the Second World War in France 237
Notes 255
Index 309
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