Overall, this is an excellent review of Jewish history from the beginning of the Second Temple period to the Rabbinic period of the middle ages. It is...moreOverall, this is an excellent review of Jewish history from the beginning of the Second Temple period to the Rabbinic period of the middle ages. It is exceptional for its focus on the Jewish perspective of history and for its focus on the Jewish people. Schiffman is a devout Rabbinic Jew himself, but where his prejudices are evident (which is very infrequently) he is refreshingly honest about them.
My only complaints were the way he sort of "skipped over" the Jewish reactions to Christianity (a single half-hearted mention of the prayer/bans agains the "minim" is insufficient) and completely ignored the ways in which institutionalized Roman persecution of Christians was legalized, in part, as a result of Jewish renunciation of Christians/Christianity. Reading his account, one would think that the Empire's decision to legally distinguish between Jews and Christians was the beginning of a glorious golden age of toleration of/preferential treatment for Christians, rather than the beginning of centuries of brutal persecutions (so brutal, in fact, that the Coptic calendar begins reckoning time with the ascension of Diocletian to the Imperial throne). He also makes the common but serious mistake of using "anti-Semitism" when he means "anti-Judaism", thus making it sound as though Christians of Semitic ethnicity or linguistic heritage were being disenfranchised right alongside their religiously Jewish fellows... This edition is badly indexed, too, so that the indexed page numbers frequently don't match up to the actual text -- it's usually only off by a couple pages, but it took me a couple days to figure that out.
Not without its flaws, but definitely a classic and well worth reading. (less)
First off, this is not just a parody of the "Harry Potter" series and its author J.K. Rowling. It is just as much a tribute to "The Books of Magic" (w...moreFirst off, this is not just a parody of the "Harry Potter" series and its author J.K. Rowling. It is just as much a tribute to "The Books of Magic" (which Peter Gross ALSO worked on) and their tale of a boy wizard raised by his single father, and even more so a tribute to the difficult life of Christopher Robin who spent so much of his life trying to escape his father's use of him in his "Winnie The Pooh" stories. There are a lot of other allusions and references and base-works which the creators of the series used, and that gives it a much broader and more timeless feel than a simple "Harry Potter" parody might. It has as much in common with the Bakshi film "Cool World" and the Browning novel "Zod Wallop" as it does with Rowling's "Harry Potter", and is the better for it.
Second, this is a fun and fairly original story. This is what Lev Grossman's "The Magicians" wishes it could have been, or perhaps this actually contains what everyone claims to find in that book. While some of the plot twists were clear to me from the very beginning, I think it's going to be worth keeping up with the story. Onward to the next volume!(less)
A nice review, but hardly useful for beginners. It assumes too much about one's previous experiences with the German language (all throughout I kept t...moreA nice review, but hardly useful for beginners. It assumes too much about one's previous experiences with the German language (all throughout I kept thinking "THIS is for dummies?"), it focuses too little on grammar, and it assumes that speaking German is more important than reading or writing or understanding it. Pass this up in favor of "German In Review" by Sparks.(less)