Scattered among the Peoples: The Jewish Diaspora in Twelve Portraits

Overview

In Scattered Among the Peoples, historian Allan Levine presents a vivid and distinctly human perspective on how the Jewish people survived eight hundred years of persecution and forced migration, building and rebuilding their lives and communities. Structured as a chronological series of twelve moment-in-time portraits, focusing on individuals and their interaction with their families and society, the narrative carries readers through the economic, political, social and intellectual climates of some of the ...
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Overview

In Scattered Among the Peoples, historian Allan Levine presents a vivid and distinctly human perspective on how the Jewish people survived eight hundred years of persecution and forced migration, building and rebuilding their lives and communities. Structured as a chronological series of twelve moment-in-time portraits, focusing on individuals and their interaction with their families and society, the narrative carries readers through the economic, political, social and intellectual climates of some of the world's most famous and fascinating cosmopolitan centers.

From the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, to the emigration of Soviet Jews from Russia following the Six Day War in Israel in 1967, Levine's masterful account describes expulsions and scandals, false messiahs and the first ghetto, assassinations, blood libels, the learning and wealth that sprung up in distant cities, and some devastating reversals of fortune. Above all, this compelling saga chronicles the lives of a vibrant cast of characters-well-known historical figures, as well as many who have been forgotten. The successes and the failures of so many-as teachers, rabbis, merchants, writers, soldiers, and physicians-add a colorful and accessible dimension to this sprawling history of the Diaspora.

Scattered Among the Peoples is an impressive and immensely readable book, one that is an important contribution to the literature of Jewish history.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This sprawling, highly readable historical survey seeks to answer the question of Jewish survival: "What mysterious power had permitted this remarkable ancient people to withstand centuries of persecution and tragedy?" Rather than weave a massive tapestry of 5,000 years of Jewish chronology, historian Levine (Fugitives of the Forest) focuses on 12 Jews who, between the years 1492 and 1967, were forced into exile. This focus on individuals-mostly noted historical figures although not necessarily popularly known-provides the book with a firm organizational spine, and allows the author to paint vivid, emblematic portraits. Samuel Oppenheimer, for instance, embodies the European "court Jew"; Abraham Pereira epitomizes Sephardic Jews who fled Portugal and settled in the Netherlands; and Boris Kochubiyevsky is emblematic of Jews who fought in the 1960s to leave the Soviet Union and emigrate to Israel. At its best, Levine's account is insightful, informative and great popular history. He has an easy style and can pack a wealth of information into a brief essay-in discussing Judah Leib Gordon, mid-19th-century poet, Levine deftly explicates the politics of prerevolutionary Russia, the cultural meaning of "the pale of settlement," the Haskalah and the Jewish anti-Zionist movement. The downside is that at times the book sacrifices scholarly detail for popular impact. Levine is more eager to find similarities than differences among the Diaspora experiences, and as wide-ranging as his study is, it reflects a degree of homogenization of the Jewish experience. In spite of this, he has produced an entertaining and useful book for readers new to the subject. 36 b&w illus. (Sept. 26) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A fluent recounting of eight centuries in the life of a people "blessed with a special burden." Those centuries, writes Canadian historian Levine, were largely marked by bad news, by episodes of exile and terror, beginning with the stripping away of civil rights and eventual expulsion of the Sephardic Jews following the Christian reconquest of Moorish Spain and ending with the Soviet campaign of repression against Jewish citizens, which continued even through the period of glasnost and perestroika. Levine charts the tangled fortunes of the Sephardim and Ashkenazi as they attempted to make homes among suspicious, often murderous neighbors, even though those neighbors sometimes found use for them: as he writes, relative to the expulsion of the Sephardim in 1492, "Few European kingdoms welcomed the Jewish refugees from Spain with open arms. They had enough Jews of their own. Why would they want more? And yet it was an accepted, if not entirely proven, fact of life in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that Jews were good for the economy." Balancing this "fact of life" with current prejudices, some of those states allowed Jews to settle, but only in segregated areas-the first of which, Levine notes, was the geto, or foundry, of Venice-and often forcing them to wear yellow badges or caps, a device that would be revived under the Third Reich. Levine relates these and other episodes through lively portraits of historical figures large and small: would-be messiahs such as Shabbetai Zevi, the 17th-century wanderer "who journeyed from city to city denouncing Jewish laws he did not approve of"; victims of persecution such as Alfred Dreyfus, the French officer falsely accused of passing militarysecrets on to the Germans in 1894, an event that set off a tide of anti-Semitism that, Levine writes, broke the long pattern of Jewish assimilation in western European societies; and heroes of the antifascist resistance such as Abba Kovner, who urged the embattled Jews of Poland to rise up against the Nazis. A worthwhile survey for students of Jewish history. Agent: Hilary McMahon/Westwood Creative Artists
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585676064
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 837,385
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Allan Levine has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Toronto. He teaches history and world issues and his book Fugitives of the Forest: The Heroic Story of Jewish Resistance and Survival During the Second World War was awarded the Yad Vashem Prize in Holocaust History and was a selection of the Jewish Book Club.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Exile and Dispersion 1
1 Sephardim - Seville, 1492 15
2 The Ghetto - Venice, 1516 51
3 Physicians, Poets, and a False Messiah - Constantinople, 1666 79
4 The Portuguese, NACAO - Amsterdam, 1700 113
5 Court Jews - Vienna, 1730 141
6 The Age of Emancipation - Frankfurt, 1848 169
7 The Pale of Settlement - St. Petersburg, 1881 199
8 L'Affaire - Paris, 1895 231
9 The Golden Land - New York, 1913 261
10 The German-Jewish 'Symbiosis' - Berlin, 1925 295
11 The Jerusalem of Lithuania - Vilna, 1944 325
12 Zionists and Soviets - Kiev, 1967 361
Conclusion: The Diaspora in 2003 395
Notes 409
Selected Bibliography 439
Acknowledgements 454
Index 461
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