The Pity of It All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933

The Pity of It All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933

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by Amos Elon
     
 

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From an acclaimed historian and social critic, a passionate and poignant history of German Jews from the mid-eighteenth century to the eve of the Third Reich


As it's usually told, the story of the German Jews starts at the end, with their tragic demise in Hitler's Third Reich. Now, in this important work of historical restoration, Amos Elon takes

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Overview

From an acclaimed historian and social critic, a passionate and poignant history of German Jews from the mid-eighteenth century to the eve of the Third Reich


As it's usually told, the story of the German Jews starts at the end, with their tragic demise in Hitler's Third Reich. Now, in this important work of historical restoration, Amos Elon takes us back to the beginning, chronicling a period of achievement and integration that at its peak produced a golden age second only to the Renaissance.


Writing with a novelist's eye, Elon shows how a persecuted clan of cattle dealers and wandering peddlers was transformed into a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons, and activists. He peoples his account with dramatic figures: Moses Mendelssohn, who entered Berlin in 1743 through the gate reserved for Jews and cattle, and went on to become "the German Socrates"; Heinrich Heine, beloved lyric poet who famously referred to baptism as the admission ticket to European culture; Hannah Arendt, whose flight from Berlin signaled the end of the German-Jewish idyll. Elon traces how this minority-never more than one percent of the population-came to be perceived as a deadly threat to national integrity, and he movingly demonstrates that this devastating outcome was uncertain almost until the end.


A collective biography, full of depth and compassion, The Pity of It All summons up a splendid world and a dream of integration and tolerance that, despite all, remains the essential ennobling project of modernity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Brilliant, far-reaching, passionate. . .sweeping and marvelously detailed. . .finely, intimately, movingly drawn. . . a book for the ages." —The New York Times

"[Elon] is a master of the telling anecdote. . ..One should be grateful for what Elon has done." —Los Angeles Times

"A work packed with beautifully sketched portraits, and constructed with a practiced eye for memorable, well-executed anecdotes." —The New York Times Book Review

"Impressive. . .Could hardly be improved upon." —The New York Review of Books

"If there is one book Americans should read this winter, it is Amos Elon's The Pity of It All—a meticulous and wrenching history of a people in a place at a moment in time that bears urgently upon our own." —Joan Didion, author of Political Fictions

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466843424
Publisher:
Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
04/26/2013
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
573,009
File size:
5 MB

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From The Pity of It All:

Barely twenty-four years old, Heinrich Heine arrived in Berlin in the summer of 1821 to study law at the university and attend Hegel's seminar on aesthetics. Slight, pale, with dreamy blue eyes and long, wavy blond hair, he was an enormously gifted writer, widely known for the lyricism of his poetry and the scathing wit of his prose. No other author has ever been so German and so Jewish or so ambivalent and ironic about being both; Heine would leave an indelible mark on German culture. During these university days, he wore velvet jackets, dandyish Byronic collars, and a fashionable wide-rimmed felt hat known as a Bolivar. Older by two or three years than most of his peers, he was allergic to the alcohol, nicotine, and "patriotic" politics they indulged in so boisterously. His distaste for alcohol persisted; he is said to have claimed that the Jewish contribution to the new German patriotism was "the small glass" of beer.

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