Cover image for The Jews in the twentieth century
The Jews in the twentieth century
Gilbert, Martin, 1936-2015.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Schocken Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
376 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
DS125 .G54 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What an extraordinary chronicle of upheaval, sorrow, and achievement is the story of the Jews in the twentieth century--and who better to narrate it than the renowned British historian Sir Martin Gilbert, whose lifework has been the study of the events and personages of our time. In this richly illustrated volume he vividly describes the individuals, the historic movements, the watershed moments, and the horrific years that so profoundly changed the world and the Jewish people. In a text interwoven with and illuminated by more than 400 fascinating photographs, many of them never before published or long forgotten, we meet the widely dispersed turn-of-the-century Jewish communities of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Then we encounter, with startling immediacy, the impassioned Zionists who set out to reclaim Palestine and the immigrant waves that poured out of Eastern Europe in search of a better life in America--among them, the brilliantly creative writers, composers, actors, and comedians who enthralled millions; and the scientists, judges, legislators, entrepreneurs, and intellectuals whose numbers can hardly be counted but whose thoughts and deeds shaped the modern world. There is tragedy in this history: the twentieth century saw many dark years during which the Jewish people suffered pogroms, persecution, and mass murder. But the century also saw the renewal and flourishing of the Jewish community, in America, in Israel, and throughout the Diaspora. The observant, the secular, the people gathered from the ends of the earth--all figure in the vivid portrait of the Jews at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Sir Martin relates this astonishing and deeply moving story with the erudition and empathy that have always distinguished his writing, and with a masterful eye for the key point, the telling anecdote, the human detail that makes history come alive. While our memories are still fresh, he has fixed them indelibly in a volume that will be treasured, pored over, and passed down as the rich and definitive record of Jewish life in the twentieth century.

Author Notes

Martin Gilbert was born in London, England on October 25, 1936. He was sent to Canada during World War II, but returned on a liner bringing American troops to Britain in preparation for D-day. After national service in the intelligence corps, he was educated at Magdalen College at Oxford. He graduated from Oxford in 1960 and wrote his first book entitled The Appeasers.

In 1961, after a year of research and writing, he was asked to join a team of researchers working for Winston Churchill. At the age of 25, he was formally inducted into the team, doing all of his own research. Gilbert became known as Churchill's official biographer, but he also wrote books on the Holocaust, the first and second world wars, and Jewish history. During his lifetime, he wrote over 80 books including Winston Churchill, Auschwitz and the Allies, The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy, The Jews of Hope: The Plight of Soviet Jewry Today, Shcharansky: Hero of Our Time, Letters to Auntie Fori: The 5,000-Year History of the Jewish People and Their Faith, and In Search of Churchill. He died after a long illness on February 3, 2015 at the age of 78.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gilbert, one of the world's most eminent historians, has written extensively on the Holocaust and authored a six-volume biography of Winston Churchill. Here he combines an authoritative text and 540 duotone photographs into a significant introduction to twentieth-century Jewry. He begins with the years 1900 to 1914, discussing migration, assimilation, and the Jews' struggle for a homeland in Palestine. Gilbert examines the Jews' role in World War I. In what he calls the crucible years (1919-1929), he explores the Jews' part in the Communist revolution in Russia, then he analyzes Hitler's rise to power and the restrictive Nuremberg Laws. His chapter on World War II details the Holocaust, citing the atrocities committed in the ghettos and the concentration camps. He also writes of the resistance movement by Jewish fighters. In three final chapters that cover the years from 1945 to 2000, Gilbert deals with such subjects as postwar rehabilitation as Jews struggled to rebuild their lives and the creation of the state of Israel. This meticulously researched book is indispensable to anyone interested in the history of the Jews. --George Cohen

Publisher's Weekly Review

Situated somewhere between a solid, intelligent primer and a luxurious coffee-table book, this 100-year chronicle of Jewish history, practice, culture, art and survival is informative, succinctly written and handsomely produced. Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill and noted historian, has written a text that carefully and lucidly intertwines an enormous range of people, events, themes and ideas. Simultaneously covering events in many cultures and countries on one page he moves from a Jewish French officer who interpreted for the British during WWI to Jewish theological arguments supporting the draft in the U.S. and the work of Jews in Europe in their own national war efforts he gracefully weaves a cohesive panorama of European and American history. But the backbone and glory of volume are its more then 350 photographs. While there are a plethora of head shots (perhaps more then needed) from public figures such as Walter Lippmann and Walther Rathenau to feminists such as Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, Zionists such as Esther Cailingold and movie stars such as Goldie Hawn and Walter Matthau many of the historical photographs are remarkable and astonishing: Jewish resistance fighters being rounded up as the Warsaw ghetto is in flames; a "Jewish" snowman created by Hitler youth, elderly Orthodox men drinking Pepsi at an Arab cafe after the Six Day War, Hollywood star John Gilbert sitting in a director's chair with his name spelled in Yiddish on the back and a rarely seen photo of a four-year-old Anne Frank and her sister. While the book is packed full with information, there are some curious omissions, such as theologian and civil rights champion Abraham Joshua Heschel and philosopher and historian Hannah Arendt. (Oct. 16) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Books chronicling the entire span of 20th century Jewish history often minimize the coverage of some subjects, or conversely focus on specific communities and events, thereby ignoring part of the story completely. Gilbert usually mediates between these two extremes. Although his book is often "Palestiniocentric" in coverage, it can be argued this reflects the significance of Palestine in modern Jewish life. Coffee-table books often descend into filiopietism, (the "look whose Jewish and see what they have contributed to the human condition" syndrome). Gilbert largely does not descend into this type of reporting, focusing instead on the diversity of the Jewish experience. His text is more descriptive than analytical. The greatest contributions are the photographs, many of which have not been previously published and will therefore interest specialists. Gilbert often uses the photo emendations to describe how average people fit into the history of this tumultuous period. Stories describe people who often either escaped to Palestine or the West, or suffered death at the hands of the Nazis. From such vignettes the reader develops a sense of the tragedies and triumphs of 20th-century Jewish history. General readers and up. F. Krome Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. 6
Editor's Notep. 7
Maps of Europe and the Middle Eastp. 8
Chapter 1 Migration, Assimilation, the Promised Landp. 12
Chapter 2 The First World Warp. 62
Chapter 3 The Crucible Yearsp. 100
Chapter 4 Challenge and Responsep. 146
Chapter 5 The Second World Warp. 196
Chapter 6 Rehabilitation, Statehood and Renewalp. 238
Chapter 7 Successes, Threats and Dilemmasp. 284
Chapter 8 Towards the Twenty-First Centuryp. 332
Acknowledgementsp. 366
Indexp. 367