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

by Amos Elon

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

In this important work of historical restoration, Amos 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. In engaging, brilliantly etched portraits of Moses Mendelssohn, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, and many others, Elon traces how a small minority came to be perceived as a deadly threat to German national integrity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312422813
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 12/01/2003
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 297,914
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.32(h) x 0.38(d)

About the Author

Amos Elon is the author of eight widely praised books including Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild, and the New York Times bestseller Israelis: Founders and Sons. He was a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and The New York Review of Books. He passed away in 2009.

Read an Excerpt

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.

Table of Contents

1Ancient Renown13
2The Age of Mendelssohn33
3Miniature Utopias65
4Heine and Borne101
5Spring of Nations149
6Hopes and Anxieties185
7Years of Progress221
8Assimilation and Its Discontents259
9War Fever297
10The End355

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Pity of It All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
wwt1 More than 1 year ago
Wonderful, easy to read history!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the history of Jews in Germany BEFORE 1933. But the persistent question on my mind, as I read it, was: Can it explain what happened in Germany AFTER 1933? After gaining relative equality in the mid-1800s, German Jews rushed to the universities and soon rose from poverty to top positions in professions, academics, finance, publishing, business and politics. Was their amazing success and visibility resented by their 'fellow Germans'? Was it envy that fueled the hatred and indifference of the Nazi years? 'The Pity of It All' is thoroughly researched and supported by numerous references to other sources. It is never pedantic, however. It sweeps smoothly through two centuries and reads like a novel -- with an unhappy ending.