Belonging

The Story of the Jews 1492-1900

Publisher: Allen Lane
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION

The Jewish story is a history that is about, and for, all of us. And in our own time of anxious arrivals and enforced departures, the Jews' search for a home is more startlingly resonant than ever.


Belonging
 is a magnificent cultural history abundantly alive with energy, character and colour. It spans centuries and even continents: from the Jews' expulsion from Spain in 1492 it navigates miracles and massacres, wandering, discrimination, harmony and tolerance; to the brink of the twentieth century and, it seems, a point of profound hope. 

     It tells the stories not just of rabbis and philosophers but of a poetess in the ghetto of Venice; a boxer in Georgian England; a general in Ming China; an opera composer in nineteenth-century Germany. The story unfolds in Kerala and Mantua, the starlit hills of Galilee, the rivers of Colombia, the kitchens of Istanbul, the taverns of Ukraine and the mining camps of California. It sails in caravels, rides the stagecoaches and the railways; trudges the dawn streets of London, hobbles along with the remnant of Napoleon's ruined army. 

     Through Simon Schama's passionate telling of this second chronicle in an epic tale, a history emerges of the Jewish people that feels like it is the story of everyone, of humanity.

PRAISE FOR

“Schama’s writing is immersive; he plunges the reader into the thronged markets of Amsterdam, the aromas of the Topkapi Palace kitchens in Constantinople, the dank slums of the East End of London and the opulent majesty of the great metropolitan synagogues of Berlin and Budapest.” The Guardian

“In his engaging, stylistic prose, the author proceeds chronologically and delves into fascinating personal stories that reveal the Jewish experience beyond its significant religious figures [. . .] A fluid history lesson from an always engaging guide.”  -Kirkus Reviews