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The Pity of It All: A History of the Jews in Germany 1743-1933

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From an acclaimed historian and social critic, a passionate and poignant history of German Jews from the mid-eighteenth century to the eve of the Third Reich

As it's usually told, the story of the German Jews starts at the end, with their tragic demise in Hitler's Third Reich. Now, in this important work of historical restoration, Amos Elon takes us back to the beginning, chronicling a period of achievement and integration that at its peak produced a golden age second only to the Renaissance.

Writing with a novelist's eye, Elon shows how a persecuted clan of cattle dealers and wandering peddlers was transformed into a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons, and activists. He peoples his account with dramatic figures: Moses Mendelssohn, who entered Berlin in 1743 through the gate reserved for Jews and cattle, and went on to become "the German Socrates"; Heinrich Heine, beloved lyric poet who famously referred to baptism as the admission ticket to European culture; Hannah Arendt, whose flight from Berlin signaled the end of the German-Jewish idyll. Elon traces how this minority-never more than one percent of the population-came to be perceived as a deadly threat to national integrity, and he movingly demonstrates that this devastating outcome was uncertain almost until the end.

A collective biography, full of depth and compassion, The Pity of It All summons up a splendid world and a dream of integration and tolerance that, despite all, remains the essential ennobling project of modernity.

Amos Elon is the author of eight widely praised books, including Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild and the New York Times bestseller Israelis: Founders and Sons. A frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and The New York Review of Books, he divides his time between Jerusalem and Tuscany.

As it's usually told, the story of the German Jews starts at the end, with their tragic demise in Hitler's Reich. Now, in this important work of historical restoration, Amos Elon takes us back to the beginning, chronicling a 150-year period of achievement and integration that at its peak helped produce a golden age, second only to the Renaissance.

Elon shows how a persecuted clan of shopkeepers, cattle dealers, and wandering peddlers was transformed into a stunningly successful community of writers, entrepreneurs, poets, musicians, philosophers, scientists, publishers, and political activistsin many ways the flower of secular Europe. He peoples his account with dramatic figures: Moses Mendelssohn, who entered Berlin in 1743 through the gate reserved for Jews and cattle and went on to become "the German Socrates"; Heinrich Heine, Germany's beloved lyric poet who famously referred to baptism as the admission ticket to European culture; Hannah Arendt, whose flight from Berlin after an encounter with the Gestapo signaled the end of the so-called German-Jewish symbiosis. Elon traces how this minoritynever more than 1 percent of the populationultimately came to be perceived as a deadly threat to national integrity and culture. But, as he demonstrates, this devastating outcome was uncertain almost until the end.

A collective biography, The Pity of It All summons up a splendid world and a dream of integration and tolerance that, despite its failure in Germany, remains the essential ennobling project of modernity.

"A superb account . . . Well-written, humane, full of learned asides and character sketches of figures such as Heinrich Heine, Else Lasker-Schüler, and Karl Kraus: a memorable evocation of a disappeared world."Kirkus Reviews

"A superb account . . . Well-written, humane, full of learned asides and character sketches of figures such as Heinrich Heine, Else Lasker-Schüler, and Karl Kraus: a memorable evocation of a disappeared world."Kirkus Reviews

“If there is one book Americans should read this winter, it is Amos Elons The Pity of It Alla meticulous and wrenching history of a people in a place at a moment in time that bears urgently upon our own.”Joan Didion

“Amos Elon is a master storyteller. With the narrative skill of a novelist, he relates a compelling and ultimately tragic tale of the dazzling march of Germanys Jews from the impoverished, demeaning ghettos of the eighteenth century to the heights of commercial success and cultural expression, a record of achievement that Hitler sought to render null and void. But Elon wisely rejects the fallacious wisdom of hindsight and tells the story of not from the perspective of its apocalyptic end, but from within the ambit of Jewish aspirations and the genuine possibilities that opened as Germany evolved into a modern nation. For Elon, the saga of German Jews is thus an intimate part of the social and political history of Germany. A tour-de-force.”Paul Mendes-Flohr, author of German Jews: A Dual Identity

"Provides fascinating insight into the Jewish dilemma of coping with modernity."Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Library Journal

"This meticulously researched history begins with the reign of Frederick II and ends with the rise of Adolf Hitler. According to the author, the German Jewsnever more than 1 percent of the populationnever ceased in their efforts to merge German and Jewish identity. He cites their many contributions to literature, the arts, theology, politics, industry, and the natural sciences, and chronicles the lives of such eminent German Jews as Salman Schocken (founder of Schocken Books), poet Nachman Bialik, Nobel laureate Shmuel Agnon, Franz Kafka, Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, Albert Einstein, and Moses Mendelssohn. Although their history is recounted as one in whichfor most of the timethey suffered indignation and humiliation, culminating in the Holocaust, Elon writes: 'We must see the German Jews in the context of their time and, at the very least, appreciate their authenticity, the way they saw themselves and others, often with reason. For long periods, they had cause to believe in their ultimate integration. It was touch and go almost to the end.'"George Cohen, Booklist

"In his excellent overview, veteran Israeli journalist and historian Elon (a biographer of Herzl and others) writes in a fluid and appealing style, with a talent for capturing the right anecdote or quote. He focuses on individual figures, both well-known ones such as Heine, Marx (both of whom converted to Protestantism) and Herzl, and lesser-knowns such as Ludwig Sonnemann (a newspaper editor who excoriated Bismarck's 1871 annexation of Alsace and Lorraine), Kurt Eisner (head of a short-lived socialist republic in Bavaria in 1919) and Walter Rathenau (the assimilated foreign minister who was assassinated in 1922). Like other historians of German Jewry, Elon points to the leadership of Jews in bringing the Enlightenment to Germany and to their high rate of assimilation and intermarriage (by the 1920s, the intermarriage rate of German Jewry rivaled that of America today). Fortunately, Elon avoids the trap of seeing all of pre-Nazi German-Jewish history as a prelude to the Holocaust or of viewing the 'Final Solution' as inevitable."Publishers Weekly

Review:

"In his excellent overview...Elon writes in a fluid and appealing style, with a talent for capturing the right anecdote or quote....Elon's book is not without its shortcomings, such as focusing too much on Berlin and neglecting Jews in other cities....But given these failings, this study will prove enlightening and enjoyable to those interested in both modern Jewish and modern German history." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"A superb account....Well-written, humane, full of learned asides and character sketches of figures such as Heinrich Heine, Else Lasker-Schüler, and Karl Kraus: a memorable evocation of a disappeared world." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[A] curiously old-fashioned, even elegiac portrait....[A] work packed with beautifully sketched portraits, and constructed with a practiced eye for memorable, well-executed anecdotes." Steven J. Zipperstein, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"This work provides fascinating insight into the Jewish dilemma of coping with modernity." Library Journal

Synopsis:

In this important work of historical restoration, Amos Elon shows how a persecuted clan of cattle dealers and wandering peddlers was transformed into a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons, and activists. In engaging, brilliantly etched portraits of Moses Mendelssohn, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, and many others, Elon traces how a small minority came to be perceived as a deadly threat

to German national integrity.

Synopsis:

From an acclaimed historian and social critic, a passionate and poignant history of German Jews from the mid-eighteenth century to the eve of the Third Reich

As it's usually told, the story of the German Jews starts at the end, with their tragic demise in Hitler's Third Reich. Now, in this important work of historical restoration, Amos Elon takes us back to the beginning, chronicling a period of achievement and integration that at its peak produced a golden age second only to the Renaissance.

Writing with a novelist's eye, Elon shows how a persecuted clan of cattle dealers and wandering peddlers was transformed into a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons, and activists. He peoples his account with dramatic figures: Moses Mendelssohn, who entered Berlin in 1743 through the gate reserved for Jews and cattle, and went on to become "the German Socrates"; Heinrich Heine, beloved lyric poet who famously referred to baptism as the admission ticket to European culture; Hannah Arendt, whose flight from Berlin signaled the end of the German-Jewish idyll. Elon traces how this minority-never more than one percent of the population-came to be perceived as a deadly threat to national integrity, and he movingly demonstrates that this devastating outcome was uncertain almost until the end.

A collective biography, full of depth and compassion, The Pity of It All summons up a splendid world and a dream of integration and tolerance that, despite all, remains the essential ennobling project of modernity.

About the Author

Amos Elon is the author of eight widely praised books, including Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild and the New York Times bestseller Israelis: Founders and Sons. A frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and The New York Review of Books, he divides his time between Jerusalem and Tuscany.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805059649
Subtitle:
A History of the Jews in Germany, 1743-1933
Publisher:
Metropolitan Books
Author:
Elon, Amos
Location:
New York
Subject:
History
Subject:
Jews
Subject:
Europe - Germany
Subject:
Germany
Subject:
Germany
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series Volume:
107-47
Publication Date:
November 1, 2002
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
50 bandw illustrations
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 x 1.13 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Germany » General
History and Social Science » World History » Germany » General

The Pity of It All: A History of the Jews in Germany 1743-1933
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 464 pages Metropolitan Books - English 9780805059649 Reviews:
"Review" by , "In his excellent overview...Elon writes in a fluid and appealing style, with a talent for capturing the right anecdote or quote....Elon's book is not without its shortcomings, such as focusing too much on Berlin and neglecting Jews in other cities....But given these failings, this study will prove enlightening and enjoyable to those interested in both modern Jewish and modern German history."
"Review" by , "A superb account....Well-written, humane, full of learned asides and character sketches of figures such as Heinrich Heine, Else Lasker-Schüler, and Karl Kraus: a memorable evocation of a disappeared world."
"Review" by , "[A] curiously old-fashioned, even elegiac portrait....[A] work packed with beautifully sketched portraits, and constructed with a practiced eye for memorable, well-executed anecdotes."
"Review" by , "This work provides fascinating insight into the Jewish dilemma of coping with modernity."
"Synopsis" by ,
In this important work of historical restoration, Amos Elon shows how a persecuted clan of cattle dealers and wandering peddlers was transformed into a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons, and activists. In engaging, brilliantly etched portraits of Moses Mendelssohn, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, and many others, Elon traces how a small minority came to be perceived as a deadly threat

to German national integrity.

"Synopsis" by ,
From an acclaimed historian and social critic, a passionate and poignant history of German Jews from the mid-eighteenth century to the eve of the Third Reich

As it's usually told, the story of the German Jews starts at the end, with their tragic demise in Hitler's Third Reich. Now, in this important work of historical restoration, Amos Elon takes us back to the beginning, chronicling a period of achievement and integration that at its peak produced a golden age second only to the Renaissance.

Writing with a novelist's eye, Elon shows how a persecuted clan of cattle dealers and wandering peddlers was transformed into a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons, and activists. He peoples his account with dramatic figures: Moses Mendelssohn, who entered Berlin in 1743 through the gate reserved for Jews and cattle, and went on to become "the German Socrates"; Heinrich Heine, beloved lyric poet who famously referred to baptism as the admission ticket to European culture; Hannah Arendt, whose flight from Berlin signaled the end of the German-Jewish idyll. Elon traces how this minority-never more than one percent of the population-came to be perceived as a deadly threat to national integrity, and he movingly demonstrates that this devastating outcome was uncertain almost until the end.

A collective biography, full of depth and compassion, The Pity of It All summons up a splendid world and a dream of integration and tolerance that, despite all, remains the essential ennobling project of modernity.

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