from the dust jacket of the 1968 Dial Press first edition
The Jews; Story of a People
Encompassing four thousand years, the history of the Jews is a vast epic of such magnificent complexity that perhaps only a master story-teller can render it in all its color and grandeur. Now, in this stirring, deeply moving book, Howard Fast has woven for us not only the history of this people, but the history of a monotheistic concept and a nonviolent ethic.
He begins by recreating for us the harsh, nomadic life of the original children of Israel, the fierce confederation of tribes that once wandered the deserts of the Sinai Peninsula, the Negev, and Jordan. In time the Beni Yisrael would conquer and hold the walled cities of Palestine. They would worship the God of Moses. In time, during the reigns of David and Solomon, the Children of Israel would build an empire -- but curiously enough, their real center of power would be embodied not by king or aristocracy but by the nabi, or prophet, who spoke for mankind in the name of a just God who wept for the sufferings of his Chosen People. When the empire crumbled, the Jews would retain their identity as a people with a unique relationship to their God.
The coming of Christianity brought with it a hatred that would drive the Jews "from place to place, from city to city, from country to country," and the last two thousand years of Jewish history is the story of the Diaspora. Howard Fast writes eloquently of the great cultural achievements of the Sephardic Jews of Spain. He traces the Diaspora through Italy, Greece, and Turkey and then into northern and eastern Europe. His richly detailed account of the great immigration of the Ashkenazi Jews to the United States in the early years of this century and the growth of the teeming, vigorous Jewish community in New York City will be of particular interest. The final chapters of this book are concerned with the Nazi holocaust and its aftermath; the return of the Jew to Palestine and the founding of the State of Israel; and a discussion of the Jew's as yet unresolved role in future history.
Written with a power and passion that does full justice to its subject and handsomely illustrated, this book is an exciting and illuminating reading experience for young and old.