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3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  797 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
A fascinating history of the Jews, told by a master novelist, here is Chaim Potok's fascinating, moving four thousand-year history. Recreating great historical events, exporing Jewish life in its infinite variety and in many eras and places, here is a unique work by a singular Jewish voice.
Paperback, 495 pages
Published 1999 by Bzztôh (first published 1978)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,664)
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May 08, 2010 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I upgraded to three stars out of sheer Jewish guilt. The kind my Grandmother would be proud of. But Potok's treatment of most aspects of culture, Jewish and non-Jewish, are at times not just a-historical, but disrespectful. I got through almost 450 pages of the book before the feeling that I was reading something a bit ridiculous hit critical mass -- Potok literally refuses to address Reform Judaism. He calls them "enlightened or assimilated Jews" in a condescending tone for 4 pages and then fun ...more
Apr 25, 2012 refgoddess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novelist's view of a complex religious history: combines bibilical scholarship, archeology, and imagination. Really interesting. Reading my Revised Standard Bible in conjunction.

5/8/10. Have been reading this in bits and pieces. As I read, I think of The Source, which I read one cold mini-term in the house at Knox, Manfred Mann's Earth Band providing the constant musical back drop. That's the main fictional book I've read about the history of Israel, and I'm just about at the point where Potok
Al Johnson
Oct 12, 2015 Al Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chaim Potok never disappoints, and Wanderings is a fantastic example of his ability to blend narrative style, personal observation, and global perspective while maintaining the core understanding of the history of Jewish diaspora in a myriad of communities and times. Easily one of the more readable books on Diaspora, Potok brings perspective to each with continuity, balance, and a look at his own inner journey that many of us take via our own wanderlust through life and the globe.

Highly recommen
Gustav Dinsdag
I wasn 't exactly looking forward to picking up Wanderings. But I had a reason for giving it a try.

When I was growing up, the Jewish tragedy was often present in our family, all be it in a vague historic mist. Things had happened, unspeakable things. As a kid, the closest I came to these horrors was my grandfather showing me his yellow star and his ausweis with the big 'J' on it every time I visited him and my (non-jewish) grandmother.

I had a crazy uncle who was seeing nazis everywhere. The wo
Nov 18, 2011 Jimmy4reading rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It's the first history of the Jewish people I have read so I'm limited in my approach to authentication, I plan on reading Paul Johnson's History of the Jews next, so I'll see.
Over all it was expansive and imaginative. Potok's knack for understanding the motives of historical characters is a testament to his outstanding credentials as a novelist. I hate the phrase "they bring the characters to life," but, yeah he did. At least in a providential way considering the limitation
Adam Glantz
Jan 07, 2016 Adam Glantz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A solid synthesis of Jewish history through the ages from a legendary Jewish-American author. Potok combines his writer's talent with erudition. I particularly appreciated his humility and honesty. He's not afraid to conjecture when the historical record becomes thin, but he shows all his cards in those instances. And though he's emotionally committed to his subject, he portrays Jewish history warts-and-all, giving critics of the Jews and Judaism the limelight when appropriate. His narrative pet ...more
i enjoyed wanderings a great deal, although about 50% of the book could have been excised without seriously disrupting the parts i found really fascinating -- the patriarchal period, the transition from cult-based to Rabbinic Judaism, the shifting centers of Rabbinic thought from Jerusalem to Babylon, and then to Cordova in Muslim Spain, western Europe, and finally to eastern Europe and the United States. Also of interest (for me) was his tracing of the development of anti-Semitism, and how it b ...more
David Abramowitz
Jan 08, 2014 David Abramowitz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very very thorough survey of Jewish history from before time of Abraham to time of publication. As Potok moves through the stories of the Bible it can read like a very nicely written list, with side trips to the various grand nations of the ancient world (Sumer, Egypt, etc.). Its tone is mainly journalistic with echoes of nostalgia and mourning. Potok conveys a deep sense of empathy for the Jews of prior ages, none more so than the generations of the 18th through 20th centuries.

TLDR: a great su
Jul 02, 2007 Ted rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
have officially given up on this book, after reading over 100 pages. i loved potok's novels, and i was hoping that his history of the jews would hold my interest as well as his jewish fictions--but alas. his writing is middling: he does not write with the authority of an expert (which he admittedly is not), but still attempts to cover as much ground as he can (the book is huge, given the subject matter). potok's novelistic tendencies betray him here, leading to him speculate rather unhelpfully a ...more
May 18, 2015 Voss rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una storia dall'inizio ( le prime città-stato sumere) ad oggi (Stato di Israele) raccontata da un romanziere.
Molto affascinante, molto, dichiaratamente, di parte. Agile letture, riflessioni interessanti. Troppo materiale per poche pagine, ma decisamente riuscito.
Un bel libro.
Sep 22, 2012 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being fascinated by Jewish history this book is over the top in details. It begins way before what I would consider recorded history (man's, not the Bible's) and brings out details I had no idea about. For example that the Jewish people were a very important part of Polish history and were well respected citizens there long before Hitler came into power. Deep deep deep, but so interesting. This is a great reference book but since I am not buying books right now - will have to wait to see if I bu ...more
Dec 21, 2014 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This year were studying the Old Testament in Sunday school. I'm reading this to supplement my studies so it may take me awhile to get through this book. I'll be going through it slowly and it's over 400 pages long, to boot.its also a textbook size book. Well I didn't actually read every word, I used it as a reference book. It offered information that helped me get a better understanding of the Old Testament. We'll be studying the Old Testament again in four years, so I'll get back to it then.
David Stutzman
Sep 18, 2007 David Stutzman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Written with a authors flow and narrative, this book covers the story of the Jews through the books of the Bible, through the Middle Ages and to the present. I found this book very helpful in understanding the scope and story of the Jewish history and it was poignant in illuminating the context of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament. I also found the chapters on the Middle Ages to be fascinating in regard to the Messianic figures that emerged out of the dire situation of the diaspora.
Oct 15, 2012 Guilie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Knowing very little of Jewish history, I learned a lot and got answers to several questions I'd been mulling over for years. Where did the Jewish people come from, originally? How did this Palestinian mess happen, and why is peace such an impossible goal? I think, for Jews and non-Jews alike, this is a book that provides a great, real, and educated perspective on Judaism.
Sergio Conti
Oct 23, 2015 Sergio Conti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
libro storico scritto da un romanziere, cioè non da uno storico, e, forse, proprio per questo molto bello e scorrevole. Pur essendo molto lungo si legge bene. Certo i giudizi molte volte sono di parte e non dettati da una vera indagine storica. Ma gli elementi essenziali ci sono per dire che è un bel libro storico molto utile per conoscere la storia degli ebrei
Apr 01, 2008 Bethany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bethany by: My Pop
Brother Mead would be so proud - of my own volition I am learning history. This is a TEXT book, but what an aid to the Bible....a Jew's look at the historical context surrounding Old Testament happenings. Takes work to ingest and retain what I'm reading but about 20% of the way in I've decided it's well worth the effort.
Elizabeth Almeida
Aug 04, 2013 Elizabeth Almeida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the subject and I was looking for a book that could me teach a little bit about Judaism. Sometimes it was a little boring but in general it is a great book for people who is looking for understanding the culture and what this people went thru for centuries.
Jun 12, 2009 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I haven't actually read this book completely through. I started it, but it was too boring. It is a non-ficion about the beginnings of the Jewish religion. It was interesting for a while, but then I got distracted by other books and so I quit reading it.
May 31, 2008 Stacy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in conjunction with a religion class in college. Very well written. Definitely not a lighthearted easy read, but if you want some guts go ahead and pick it up. Follows the history of the Jews through the bible, interesting perspective.
Victoria Stevens
I learned more of the history of the sacred writings and of the peoples of the Book from Chaim Potok's "Wanderings" than I have in churches and parochial schools and University. Thank you for this in-depth and loving review.
Dec 28, 2011 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, jewish
I struggled through the first half of the book... it seemed to me Mr. Potok was simply summarizing the bible. However, his account of Jewish history from about 1000 to the present is excellent.
This book has been menacing my shelves for a quarter of a century, now I'm finally reading it. Moderately compelling, but no competition with Barbara Tuchman or Karen Armstrong.
Steve Congdon
Sep 05, 2009 Steve Congdon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
do interesting to see how many desperate times the Jews have thought a Messiah finally surfaced only to be misled;fascinating study of their struggle and perseveranace
Mar 23, 2008 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful, somewhat autobiographical read about the upbringing of a Jewish boy. Very thought-provoking, which can be no surprise, since it is Potok, after all.
Mark Singer
I'm on page 243 of 576 of Wanderings and its not an easy read. Very dry, and it does not flow. Time to put this book away until after the semester is over.
Jul 10, 2015 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: old-rare
Thorough of the foundations of Judaeism and a historical view of Jewish through the ages. I read it several years ago and have never gotten it out of my mind.
Apr 14, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book shed so much light on the Old Testament. It's a long read, full of detail and history, but SO interesting!
Feb 19, 2008 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic! If you want some serious/educational/heavy reading about the's beautiful, of course.
Jul 04, 2008 Jeniann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Very interesting book about the history of the Jews from a Jew; it gave me many insights into the Bible
Glenn Horne
Apr 29, 2012 Glenn Horne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not Biblically precise but an interesting perspective from a Jewish historian – very well written
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Overall 1 6 Nov 13, 2008 03:51PM  
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American author and rabbi. Herman Harold Potok was born in the Bronx to Jewish immigrants from Poland.

His parents, Benjamin Max (d. 1958) and Mollie (Friedman) Potok (d. 1985), gave him a Hebrew name, Chaim Tzvi. His Orthodox education taught him Talmud as well as secular studies.

He decided to become a writer as a teenager, after reading Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.
More about Chaim Potok...

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