Schama, Simon. “The Story of the Jews Volume Two: Belonging: 1492-1900”, Ecco Books, 2017.
An Epic History
This is Simon Schama’s second volume of his illustrated cultural history of the Jewish people. In the first volume, we realized that this is the story of endurance against destruction and it shows the
creativity of the Jews as they faced oppression and affirmed life even dealing with terrible issues. The story of the Jews spans and we read the
philosophical musings of Spinoza and poetry written on slips of paper in concentration camps. We go into detail about the Enlightenment and we see the Diaspora that transforms a country. We meet Freud and see his place in our history. a Viennese psychiatrist forever changes the conception of the human mind.
This is, however, not the story of a people apart but rather the story of a Jewish culture totally immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have lived making this the story of all of us.
Schama gives us 24 pages of color photos, numerous maps, and printed endpapers. We sense the author’s pride in his people. Schama gives us a new way of reading history and even though the book is quite thick (790 pages), it reads easily and quickly.