Page 45 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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GERBER / JEWISH HISTORICAL WRITING
39
American Jewish studies an area o f serious scholarly inquiry
today.
GENERAL READERS AND ANTHOLOGIES
Anyone at all familiar with Jewish history is aware o f the almost
insurmountable problem o f its scope. Can any one-volume study
possibly do more than give a very impartial, distorted and simplis­
tic view o f the complex relationship o f the Jews to the ir many host
cultures while at the same time depicting the ir interior history
divorced from and d ifferen t from tha t o f the host societies? Only
the most courageous would likely unde rtake a synthetic history o f
such a global nation. Yet, in the past decade a number o f first-rate
volumes have appeared which do introduce the studen t to the
salient points o f the Jewish experience, either through docu­
ments or through narrative. Robert Seltzer’s
Jewish People, Jewish
Thought
(New York, 1980) finely balances the sequence o f the
history o f the Jews th rough the ages and its corollary intellectual
developments. While avoiding a one-dimensional view o f the
dynamics o f the Jewish experience, Seltzer’s history creatively
integrates the many facets o f the Jewish past into a readable whole
and also offers excellent bibliographical suggestions.
The experience o f the Jews und e r Islam is the subject o f a fine
history and source book by Norman Stillman. In
TheJews of Arab
Lands
(Philadelphia, 1979) Stillman carefully and impartially ex­
plores the historical relationships between Jews and Arabs in an
extensive introductory essay followed by an excellent compen­
dium of documents (many o f which appea r in English for the first
time).
Numerous “readers” (documentary collections with in troduc­
tory comments) have been published to meet the needs o f stu­
dents in survey courses in Jewish history.
Modem Jewish History: a
Source Reader
(New York, 1974) by Robert Chazan and Marc Lee
Raphael and
The Jew in the Modern World: a Documentary History
edited by Paul R. Mendes-Flohr and Jeh u d a Reinharz (New York,
1980) are well-selected anthologies.
Ideas o f Jewish History
(New
York, 1974) by Michael A. Meyer, a more specialized reader ,
contains a fascinating collection o f historical writings illustrating
how Jews have unde rstood the ir history through the ages.
Holocaust related material has proliferated so rapidly that