The Invention of the Jewish People Hardcover – Oct 19 2009
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“Israel’s Declaration of Independence states that the Jewish people arose in the Land of Israel and was exiled from its homeland. Every Israeli schoolchild is taught that this happened during the period of the Roman rile, in 70 CE. The nation remained loyal to its land, to which it began to return after two millennia of exile. Wrong, says the historian Shlomo Sand, in one of the most fascinating and challenging books published here in a long time. There was never a Jewish people, only a Jewish religion, and the exile also never happened—hence there was no return.”—Tom Segev, Haaretz
“The reader will have understood the message: what this well-documented and fearless book explodes is the myth of a unique Jewish people, miraculously preserved, in contrast to all the other peoples, from external contamination ... [Sand’s] conclusions, which are prudently formulated, nonetheless lead one towards a sole solution: the construction of a secular and democratic Israel.”—Jacques Julliard, Le Nouvel Observateur
“Shlomo Sand has written a remarkable book ... Anyone interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East should read it.”—Tony Judt, author of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
“The Invention of the Jewish People is an indispensable challenge and a very complex intellectual exercise ... a more secure society [than Israel] would include the book in the core curriculum of its school system.”—Avraham Burg, former Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth
About the Author
Shlomo Sand studied history at the University of Tel Aviv and at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, in Paris. He currently teaches contemporary history at the University of Tel Aviv. His books include The Invention of the Jewish People, On the Nation and the Jewish People, L’Illusion du politique: Georges Sorel et le débat intellectuel 1900, Georges Sorel en son temps, Le XXe siècle à l’écran and Les Mots et la terre: les intellectuels en Israël.
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Top Customer Reviews
A great many non-fiction books today are little more than essays or magazine articles padded into the size of books. Many are true disappointments to read, let alone failing to be genuine contributions to thought.
Here, though, is a book in which every chapter says something challenging and interesting.
And do not skip the introduction - something of which I am often guilty, being anxious to get to the heart of the matter - for in this case the introduction is fascinating, and Mr. Sand could not have provided a subtler or better way to introduce the nature and complexity of his topic.
The book was written in Hebrew - I know it caused quite a sensation in Israel a couple of years ago - and only now has been translated into English. Just one of the things which surprised me was the clarity and flow of the language, something for which social scientists are not noted, Mr. Sand being a historian. I don't know whether Mr. Sand is that unusual thing, a social scientist who is a truly excellent writer or whether he has found a gifted translator. Perhaps it is both.
Mr. Sand has not done original research into the topic, but he has done a massive and perceptive review of the literature, the kind of effort which in medicine often proves extremely valuable in bringing together the results of scores of scattered original studies, and, as the reader will discover, the author is an impressive scholar.Read more ›
Zionism, by contrast, in Shlomo Sand's readable and fascinating book, remains shackled to a crude nationalism that embodies discredited essentialist ideas that have not changed much since the first Zionist Congress in 1897. Out of this has arisen an instrumental view of history, where facts that do not meet the realpolitik objectives the movement that brought the State of Israel into existence are ignored or suppressed, and where trained historians, archaeologists and scientists face pressure to adapt their findings to political exigencies.
But Sand also paints a portrait of a country fraught with contradictions that are, inevitably percolating up to create a new consciousness of Jewish History, where the tools of modern historiography bring the possibility of change. Whether this is too little too late, Sand clearly understands that the mistakes and brutality of Israel's Zionist ideology, and the contradictions that the 4 and a half decades occupation of Palestinian lands, have created the conditions where change is inevitable.
Sand seems to suggest that Israel's best chance is to try to guide, rather than control these forces, to bring israel into line with the normative standards of democracy, liberalism and identity of the modern states Israel compares itself to.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
People reject tough reality.. This book reveals the truth of modern Jews,
Now a lot of Jews as you see in reviews don't want to believe or don't want the truth to be... Read more
Controversial book. Got me to read a bunch of other books along the same line.Published 5 months ago by Michael Brusselers
First, I will give my own background in the context of trying to understand such a book. I have a degree in molecular biology and am an MD. Read morePublished 5 months ago by AMD
A fascinating exploration of the history of the Jewish people. The fact that it is written by a Jewish professor of history at Tel Aviv University increases its impact. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Wow. Just wow. It's hard to believe this guy ever graduated. Sure, there is always a target audience for this kind of junk, but I find Hans Christian Andersen's books more... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mark
Good read. But the rulers are too stupid to understand this...Published 21 months ago by Usama Al-Khudairy
First, an apologia. I am a gentile who grew up in a Canadian city in a neighbourhood with many Jewish people. Read morePublished on Jan. 12 2014 by William L. Day