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The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and its Heritage
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The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and its Heritage

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  342 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
This book traces the history of the ancient Khazar Empire, a major but almost forgotten power in E. Europe, which in the Dark Ages became converted to Judaism. Khazaria was finally wiped out by the forces of Genghis Khan, but evidence indicates that the Khazars themselves migrated to Poland & formed the cradle of Western Jewry. To the general reader the Khazars, who fl ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 12th 1976 by Random House (NYC) (first published January 1st 1976)
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Dec 14, 2008 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it it was amazing
When this book came out it caused a big controversy although I'm not quite sure how anybody could rationally critique what Koestler put forth here. I don't think any sane human being that knows how to read could say that the good bulk of the European/Eastern European Jews are descended from the biblical Israelites. Koestler documents how these European Jews came out the Khazar tribe of southeast Russia/Khazakistan who even back then were a mixed race people mainly of Turko-Armenian type racial s ...more
J Bel
Jan 07, 2012 J Bel rated it it was ok
At the time it was written, the thesis of The Thirteenth Tribe was justified by the facts then available. The broad conclusions offered were never justified by the very small amount of real data presented. Since the publication of The Thirteenth Tribe, additional scholarship from anthropologists, historians, and geneticists have shown the conclusions of the author to be invalid.

The author’s thesis, that modern Eastern European Jews, the Ashkenazim, are largely descended from the Khazar people i
Erik Graff
May 24, 2016 Erik Graff rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jews, students of Judaism
Recommended to Erik by: Arthur Kazar
Shelves: history
I've generally enjoyed reading Koestler. He inhabited the fringes, whether it be in terms of his communism (Darkness at Noon etc.), his critique of scientific (Roots of Coincidence) or evolutionary orthodoxy (Midwife Toad), and I find it challenging to step beyond my habitual beliefs. Here, in his treatment of the Khazars, he challenges what I thought I knew about extra-biblical Judaism.
Don Rea
Jul 22, 2007 Don Rea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I happened across this on a library shelf just a few months after I read /The Dictionary Of the Khazars/. Until that moment I had assumed that the whole basic story of Pavic's novel, the conscious adoption of Judasim by the Khazar Empire after a bake-off among Judaism, Chrisitanity and Islam, and the Khazars' subsequent complete fade from history, was made up. I was struck quite dumb for several minutes when I saw Koestler's book in the history section.

Most of the book is a competent but ordinar
Jan 05, 2011 Marley rated it it was amazing
I read this over 20 years ago and re-discovered it my bookcase recently. It was well-worth a second read. A controversial book when it was published it is now backed-up with new scholarship. Koestler and new scholars make a very credible argument that a good part of European Jewry is in fact, Khazar-based. It must throw anti-Semites into a dizzy
This book researches such a minority strain of history and historical theory that it is almost hard to classify this as "nonfiction." However, it is a great, fascinating read on the alternate history of the origins of a good portion of today's Jews. The history of the c. 600-1200 AD makeup of the Caucauses is quite interesting, and Koestler teaches you a good deal about the origins of the Hungarians, the Russians, and other nations that were born of the Eastern European Steppes. The book begins ...more
May 15, 2016 Hamza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, judaism
Wow. I'm still not entirely convinced by the "Khazarian Hypothesis", but Mr. Koestler cites all of the relevant sources to beef up his argument. It should be noted that Mr. Koestler was actually a Zionist, and was not attempting to use this hypothesis to claim that Ashkenazi Jews didn't deserve Israel. On the contrary, this small appendix at the very end of the book is what made me almost down-rate the book due to my own staunch anti-Zionist worldview. For while I do agree that being descendants ...more
Jul 03, 2007 علی rated it liked it
Koestler believed that most of now Jews are rooted from an old land north-west of Caspean Sea called Khazar. Because of Khazar Empire, Caspean Sea is still called "Darya-ye Khazar" (Khazar Sea) in Persian.
تا آنجا که می دانم کستلر دو کتاب یکی به نام “قبیله ی سیزدهم" و دیگری به نام امپراطوری خزران دارد. در سال های اخیر دو کتاب، یکی با نام "قبیله ی سیزدهم، امپراتوری خزران و میراث آن" با ترجمه ی جمشید ستاری(1361) و کتاب دیگری با نام “خزران" با ترجمه ی محمدعلی موحد(1361) منتشر شده است. من البته هیچ ک
Jeffrey Otto
Apr 25, 2016 Jeffrey Otto rated it really liked it
When it comes to controversial books, it seems to me there’s an inverse relationship between pages read and opinions held. That is, the more people that hold strong opinions about a controversial book, the smaller the share of people that have actually read it. In Israel, where books and the controversies surrounding them make the headlines far more often than in the United States, the Education Ministry recently decided to publicly announce that a certain controversial book – controversial beca ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Liza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judaism-study
In short: read this book to learn a ton about the Eastern European politics and tribes of medieval times, and enjoy the oddity of a Turkish empire converting to Judaism. Don't read it expecting to redefine what it means to be "jewish".

The first half of this book is a fascinating history of the Khazars, the nomadic steppe people (called "Turks" because their language is of the Turkish family) who settled and built an empire around the Caspian Sea and the Crimea from the 700s through the mid 900s
Aug 09, 2014 N rated it did not like it
Why is everyone so quick to jump on the bandwagon of the Khazar theory? It holds about as much truth as a vegetable drainer does water. Of course, it is a convenient theory for attack for anti-Zionists, but when really put under the microscope, the evidence for it is by far overwhelmingly outdone by the evidence against it. I am seeing so many posts about it just lately that I dare say the majority of those spreading these trendy posts haven't actually spent any significant time to study it from ...more
وسام الدين محمد
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Henry Sturcke
This was a fascinating read. I had not been aware until then of the Khazar empire, nor that a portion of its ruling elite converted to Judaism. Subsequent scholarship has invalidated Koestler's wider claim that the bulk of Ashkenazi (central European Jewry) are of Khazar descent. Yet aside from the truth of this issue, I was disturbed when I finished the book by what Koestler seemed to feel was the implication of his theory, namely, that the mass murder inflicted by the Nazis in the holocaust wa ...more
Adam Cherson
Jan 20, 2014 Adam Cherson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I rate this book a 3.71 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being best. For many years I harbored a speculation that one side of my family originated from the Caucasus area and this book provides me with all the proofs I need to move from speculation to hypothesis. After reading this book there is no question in my mind that many of the Jews who wound up piled together in the Pale of Settlement of Eastern Europe migrated there from the Southeast, from the areas around and between the Black Sea and the C ...more
Ferda Nihat Koksoy
Feb 10, 2016 Ferda Nihat Koksoy rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
***Kendisi Budapeşte Yahudisi olan ünlü düşünür Arthur Koestler’in bu araştırması üzerindeki tartışmalar ve DNA çalışmaları halen sürmektedir.

-Dinyeper nehri ile Hazar Gölü arasında yaşayan çok sayıda Türk kabilesi, HAZAR İMPARATORLUĞU (HAZARYA) etkisinde olup 740 yılında, etraflarındaki İslam (Emevi) ve Hıristiyan (Bizans) baskılarına karşı daha az asimile edici olan YAHUDİLİĞİ seçmiştir. Bunların günümüze uzanan orijinal kimlikli olanları ÇUVAŞ TÜRKÇESİ ile ko
Jul 28, 2013 علی rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
با این کتاب شیرین، دو پرسش مهم برایم پیش آمد، یکی این که نام این نویسنده ی کلیمی مجاری در کشورش چگونه تلفظ می شود، چون در فارسی او را کسلر، کویستلر، کوستلر، کوسلر و ... خوانده اند و نوشته اند.
پرسش دوم در مورد طایفه یا نژاد یا هرچه ی دیگر، "خزران" است که در بررسی های تاریخ باستان ایران، ساکنین اطراف خزر، گاه یاغی و گاه خراجگذار بوده اند و در شاهنامه هم در ایامی که گشتاسب در روم است، به یاری امپراطور روم، به این منطقه لشکر می برد و پادشاه مغرور و یاغی آن را که سپاه روم را چندین بار شکسته، می شکند
Aug 18, 2009 Mazel rated it really liked it
Shelves: histoire, récit
" A l'époque où Charlemagne se fit couronner empereur d'Occident, l'extrémité orientale de l'Europe, entre le Caucase et la Volga, était dominée par un Etat juif connu sous le nom d'Empire khazar... " Ainsi débute le récit d'Arthur Koestler sur l'une des plus passionnantes énigmes des temps médiévaux.

En historien novateur, il retrace méticuleusement l'épopée des Khazars, de leurs origines à leur déclin.

S'attardant sur la composition de la mosaïque ethnique de ce peuple guerrier et sur ses myth
Susan Bender
Mar 21, 2014 Susan Bender rated it it was amazing
I found this book riveting and informative. I am most likely descended from the 13th Tribe. I gained tremendous insight into my people's history.
Apr 16, 2016 Paulette rated it it was amazing
After the article came out in the Jerusalem Post about the current occupants of Israel not being descendants of the original Jews, this book became very interesting. Mr. Koestler found out that his ancestors were Jewish by conversion not blood. The way Judaism was chosen by the Khazers is interesting and the fact that he mentions the black Khazars(The Thirteenth Tribe pg 13) but does not expound on their history or why the need to separate them, especially when it has been proven that the majori ...more
Jen Friedman
Aug 11, 2014 Jen Friedman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved reading this book. As an adoptee, I totally buy into the premise that all of todays Jews are descendants from a tribe that adopted Judaism. It was a challenging read for me though, and I cannot imagine it is for those who do not have a good command of the English language. Having many historical and geographical references, of which I am unfamiliar with most, increased the time it took me to read it. For thorough comprehension I found myself rereading many pages; however, because ...more
Jun 16, 2012 Elalma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Da un punto di vista strettamente antropologico pu sembrare datato. Non si pu neppure pensare che esista una "razza ebraica", dato che il concetto stesso di "razza" superato: non pi cos urgente, per fortuna, dover dimostrare che essere ebrei non vuol dire essere semiti e viceversa. Ma dal punto di vista storico e culturale estremamente interessante vedere come la maggior parte degli ebrei della diaspora provengano fin dal medioevo dalla zona tra il Volga, il Don e i Carpazi l, nella culla del ...more
Jul 30, 2011 Jpp rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meme si il demanderait aujourd'hui une serieuse actualisation, et si le romancier de génie a du mal à se contenir dans le role de l historien, un livre plein de faits historiques, d anecdotes et de references culturelles souvent peu connus sur les Khazars et leurs liens etroits avec l histoire des communautés juives d Europe orientale. Aujourd hui presque tabou, cette histoire extraordinaire meriterait d etre approfondie...
Jan 26, 2014 Baniza rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-book
Must READ. Better understanding on JEW tribe.
Non-fiction account of the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism. Koestler argued that these converts became the ancestors of East European Jewry after the end of the Khazar hegemony on the steppe to the North of the Caspian and Black Seas.

At the time of writing it was too early for the kinds of genetic analysis available today and archeological evidence was not utilised in this book.
Nov 17, 2009 Suppaspears9206 rated it liked it
This a book about the so called "jews" or Europe, who actually AREN'T Jews at all. They come from the Khazar tribe and have fooled the entire world into thinking they are God's chosen people. These chain of events were prophesied in the your research!!
May 29, 2015 Arnie rated it liked it
Interesting book about the Khazar kingdom. He has a controversial view that most of Eastern European Jewry originated with the descendants of Khazars. I consider this highly unlikely. Still, there is good historical information in here
Nov 09, 2011 Muris rated it really liked it
If one puts aside Koestlers preferences towards the Khazars and his prejudices towards Arabs, one can find quite a lot useful informations about the ancestors of the contemporary Jew.
محمد على عطية
Feb 07, 2012 محمد على عطية rated it liked it
Shelves: تاريخ
بحث فى أصول اليهود الحاليين من خلال تتبع تاريخ الخزر و إعتناقهم لليهودية ثم إضمحلال دولتهم و إنتشارهم ليكونوا أغلبية يهود شرق و وسط أوروبا و روسيا....أى أغلبية يهود إسرائيل اليوم
Islam Yousuf
Mar 19, 2013 Islam Yousuf rated it it was amazing
One of the best books in anthropology at all , it has solved a lot of questions & dilemmas in my mind regarding the uniqueness of the Jewish race
Ken Yakovac
Jul 04, 2010 Ken Yakovac rated it liked it
Airtight in it's argument but probably the dryest read I've ever encountered.
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Arthur Koestler CBE [*Kösztler Artúr] was a prolific writer of essays, novels and autobiographies.

He was born into a Hungarian Jewish family in Budapest but, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria. His early career was in journalism. In 1931 he joined the Communist Party of Germany but, disillusioned, he resigned from it in 1938 and in 1940 published a devastating anti-Communis
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