On the eve : the Jews of Europe before the Second World War / Bernard Wasserstein.Material type: TextPublisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2012Edition: 1st edDescription: xxi, 552 p. : ill. ; 24 cmISBN: 9781416594277 (hardcover); 1416594272 (hardcover); 9781416594284 (pbk.); 1416594280 (pbk.); 9781439101698 (ebook); 1439101698 (ebook)Subject(s): Jews -- Europe -- History -- 20th century | Jews -- Europe -- Social conditions -- 20th century | Jews -- Persecutions -- Europe -- History -- 20th century | Antisemitism -- Europe -- History -- 20th century | Nineteen thirties | Nineteen twenties | World War, 1939-1945 -- CausesDDC classification: 305.892/40409041 LOC classification: DS135.E83 | W36 2012
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Includes bibliographical references (p. -520 and index.
The melting glacier -- The Christian problem -- Grandees and grandstanders -- From shtetl to shtot -- New Jerusalems -- Holy men -- Unholy women -- Luftmenshn -- Non-Jewish Jews -- The linguistic matrix -- The power of the word -- A people of many books -- Masques of modernity -- Youth -- Utopias -- In the cage, trying to get out -- Camping -- On the eve -- Existential crisis -- Epilogue: Fates known and unknown.
Bernard Wasserstein presents a disturbing interpretation of the collapse of European Jewish civilization even before the Nazi onslaught. Wasserstein shows how the harsh realities of the age devastated the lives of communities and individuals. By 1939, the Jews faced an existential crisis that was as much the result of internal decay as of external attack. Publisher's description.
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal ReviewPrior to 1939, the Jews of Europe lived in four distinct zones: the western zone encompassing Britain, France, and the Netherlands; the central zone of the German lands, including Austria; the Eastern European world of Polish and Romanian Jewry; and the extreme eastern zone comprising the Soviet Union. While each region had distinct characteristics, Wasserstein (history, Univ. of Chicago) asserts that signs of communal decay can be identified stalking the length and breadth of continental Jewish life. Wasserstein attributes the decline of European Jewry to a low birth rate, increased anti-Semitism across the continent, the exclusion of Jews from public life, intra-Jewish squabbles over limited communal resources during a time of economic crisis, and a lack of political power. VERDICT Although he does not regard the Jews as passive victims, Wasserstein proposes that the Jewish communities were dying out even before the Holocaust, a thesis likely to generate lively discussion as it challenges the nostalgic view of the vitality of Jewish life before 1939. This study, based on extensive research, is well written and is recommended for university libraries and specialized collections. [See Prepub Alert, 11/28/11.]-Frederic Krome, Univ. of Cincinnati Clermont Coll. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
CHOICE ReviewVery readable for everyone, Wasserstein's newest work continues his solid academic credentials as demonstrated in Barbarism and Civilization (CH, Aug'08, 45-6932) with this more focused work on European Jewry before the Holocaust. Wasserstein's contribution to Holocaust studies explores Jewish life within European circles as already seriously challenged by political leaders and social ostracism. European Jewry shared the same essential values as their non-Jewish counterparts--for example, concerns about prostitution and support for cultural activities. However, progressive Yiddish theater, the shtetl, Zionism, an emerging bourgeois Orthodox middle class, Jewish welfare agencies, and Jewish youth support for radical Left political groups all accented a growing wedge defining European Jewry as "other." Departing from mainstream works on the Holocaust, Wasserstein (Chicago) anchors his perspective in a more personal, street-level documentation. Readers will enjoy the sense of experiencing Jewish life as seen from those living it, whether through the Yiddish folk music of the klezmer band, on a Soviet collective farm, or as converts to Christianity. Clearly breaking with earlier accounts of this era, Wasserstein provides a comprehensive, insightful experience that will sustain readers' interest from beginning to end. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. D. A. Meier Dickinson State University
Author notes provided by SyndeticsBernard Wasserstein is professor of history at the University of Glasgow. The president of the Jewish Historical Society of England.
(Bowker Author Biography)