The Jews

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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

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.

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.

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.
— 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.
-- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jewish Book World
A provocative look into the Jewish past and its contemporary relevance.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

Pierre Vidal-Naquet is the author of many books, including The Black Hunter: Forms of Thought and Forms of Society in the Greek World and Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece (both with Jean-Pierre Vernant) and Assassins of Memory: Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust (Columbia).David Ames Curtis is a translator whose credits include works by Cornelius Castoriadis as well as Vidal-Naquet and Pierre Leveque's Cleisthenes the Athenian.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Translator's NoteForeward by Paul BermanPreface to the English-Language EditionPart One: Origins and History 1. Forms of Political Activity in the Jewish World, Principally Around the First Century C.E.2. Flavius Josephus and Masada3. Flavius Josephus and the Prophets4. Apropos of ZakhorPart Two: Emancipation and History 5. The Privilege of Liberty6. Dreyfus in the Affair and in History7. Jewish Prism, Marxist PrismPart Three: Destruction, Memory, and the Present 8. The Hero, the Historian, and Choice9. The Historian and the Test of Murder10. The Shoah's Challenge to History11. On an Interpretation of the Great Massacre: Arno Mayer and the 'Final Solution'12. And by the Power of a Word...13. A Wonderful School...14. The Harmonics of Szymon Laks15. Presentation of a Document: The Journal of Attorney Lucien Vidal-NaquetPart Four: History, Memory, and the Present 16. Reflections at the Margins of a Tragedy17. Return to Israel18. 'Inquiry into a Massacre', by Amnon Kapeliouk19. The Anti-Peace ColonistsPart Five: Conclusion 20. Recollections of a Witness: Protestants and Jews During the Second World War in FranceNotesIndex

Columbia University Press

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