It is a story like no other: an epic of endurance against
destruction, of creativity in oppression, joy amid grief, the
affirmation of life against the steepest of odds. The first of
two volumes, The Story of the Jews spans the millennia and
the continents-from India to Andalusia and from the bazaars of
Cairo to the streets of Oxford. It takes readers to unimagined
places: a Jewish kingdom in the mountains of southern Arabia,
a Syrian synagogue glowing with radiant wall paintings, the
palm groves of the Jewish dead in the Roman catacombs. And its
voices ring loud and clear, from the severities and ecstasies
of the writers of the Bible to the love poems of wine bibbers
in a garden in Muslim Spain.
Within these pages, the Talmud burns in the streets of Paris,
massed gibbets hang over the streets of medieval London, a
Majorcan illuminator redraws the world, candles are
lit, chants are sung, mules are packed, and ships loaded with
spices and gems founder at sea.
And a great story unfolds. Not-as often imagined-of a culture
apart, but of a Jewish world immersed in and imprinted by the
peoples among whom they have dwelled, from the Egyptians to
the Greeks, from the Arabs to the Christians.
Which makes the story of the Jews everyone's story.