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The Routledge Atlas of Jewish History Paperback – Feb 23 2010
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'A useful reference book that will support various academic subjects.' - Reference Reviews
'For sheer detail and breadth of scale they (maps) offer essential reference for students, teachers.' - Fergus Collins, BBC History Magazine --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Sir Martin Gilbert is one of the leading historians of the modern world. An Honorary Fellow of Merton College, Oxford - of which he was a Fellow for thirty years - he is the official biographer of Churchill and the author of eighty-two books, among them Churchill - A Life, Churchill and the Jews, Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction, The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust, and Never Again: A History of the Holocaust. For more information please visit www.martingilbert.com
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He traces the migration of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt back to the Promised Land, and the conquest of the Promised Land by the Israelites, the whereabouts of the Twelve Tribes of Ancient Israel, the kingdoms of David and Solomon 1000 to 925 BC, as well as the destruction of Jewish independence by the Assyrians and Babylonians and the subsequent deportations and dispersions of the Israelites.
The book shows us maps revealing the Hasmonean Kingdom and the Jewish revolts against Roman Rule.
Gilbert outlines the development of ancient Jewish communities in Iraq, Persia, India and China, as well as Europe, the persecutions, pogroms, expulsions and different places of settlements of the Jews throughout the world.
The book deals with some lesser known facts such as the whereabouts of the Karaite Jews, 10 000 of whom were murdered by the Nazis in Crimea, in 1943, the fact that in 1805 Napoleon formed a Jewish battalion that fought at Waterloo, while in 1799 the Jews of Jerusalem joined the Turks in preparing to defend the city, and in 1812, the Jews of Russia, supported their Russian overlords against Napoleon, as they feared that Napoleon's liberalization would be a threat to their orthodoxy.
A fascinating map shows the possible whereabouts of the ten lost Tribes of Israel, and the intriguing possibility that their descendants could include the Ibos of Nigeria, the Masai Tribe of East Africa, the Berbers of North Africa, the Khazars, the Bnei Menashe of Eastern
India, the Karens of Burma, and the Shinadai Tribe of Japan.
Other maps show the development of Jewish life in the Americas, Jewish military activity from from 1794 to 1967, the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel, the numbers of Jews in Europe at the outbreak of World War II, and those that perished in the Holocaust, the numbers of Jews who fled Europe for Palestine, during the Holocaust, Jewish resistance against Nazis persecution in Europe, and against Arab pogroms in Palestine, and Israel's War of Independence in 1948, the Suez War of 1956 and the Six Day war of 1967, describing the balance on the eve of that war of Arab and Israeli forces:
The total Arab strength was 547 000 troops, 2 504 tanks and 957 combat aircrafts, while Israel's strength consisted of 264 000 troops, 800 tanks and 300 Combat aircrafts.
While the author is correct about persecution in Europe, of the Jews, by Christians, he underestimates and does not fully describe the many massacres and pogroms against Jews in Moslem-ruled lands, as well as the severe dhimmni status under which they lived.
Nevertheless Gilbert succeeds, in illustrating the vast panorama of the Jewish people, through the ages.
He makes obscure periods in Jewish history better known, if only in outline, leaving the reader the task of embarking on deeper research.
Finally the book leaves the reader amazed at the endurability of a people who survived thousands of years of hostility and attempts to destroy it, and were gathered together once again in their ancient homeland, having to defend their homeland against 100 million Arabs, and a very large chunk of hostile world opinion.
We see the extent of the Kingdom of David and Solomon. The Hasmonean Kingdom. Jews of India and China. There is some good material about Jews under Muslim rule. We learn about the Khazars. The Karaites. Jews of Europe. Forcible conversions and expulsions. Blood Libels. The emancipation of some European Jews. The rise of Zionism. Birobidjan. World War Two. Jewish immigration to Israel. Jewish populations in the 21st century. Anti-Semitism in the 21st century. And much more.
What's missing? Well, there are a few places where I think Gilbert should have included a little more material. First, I think it would be good to see a little more on the history of early Christian oppression and hatred of Jews, from around 300 AD to around 600 AD. I also think there should have been more about the Israeli war of independence from Great Britain (especially since Gilbert himself is British), including the infamous 1939 White Paper and the ships that tried to break the British blockade of the Levant. I think the excellent map showing Jewish land ownership in the Levant in 1942 is misleading, because it fits right in with lies about the Arabs owning all the rest of the land (in fact, the majority of the land was state land). And I think there should have been more about the history of the Jews of Ethiopia.
I recommend this short but very informative book.
The history of the Jews, from ancient times to the diaspora, the "enlightenment" period, the Holocaust, Israel, etc. are all portrayed here in one small volume containing volumes of information. Whether for reference or for a better understanding of Jewish history, this book belongs in every Jewish history library.
2 minor setbacks: the maps, though clear and consistent within themselves, are not well organised (i.e. one section of mediavel history, one for modern history, one for israel, etc. etc.), but there is still a list of the maps in the beginning. Also, there is no index, which would be extremely difficult to compile, but also very helpful. In spite of these cons, the book definitely deserves 5 stars.
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