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Jews, God, and History

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  977 ratings  ·  80 reviews
How have the Jews survived through so many millenia while other civilizations have declined and perished? What qualities mark the culture that produced Moses, Christ, Spinoza, Marx, Freud, and Einstein? From ancient Palestine through Europe and Asia, to America and modern Israel, Max I. Dimont shows how the saga of the Jews is interwoven with the story of virtually every n ...more
Paperback, 50th Anniversary Edition, 572 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Signet (first published 1962)
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Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
I strongly preferred Paul Johnson's History of the Jews to Max Dimont's The Jews, G'd, and History.

Dimont is well-informed, but he has some totally bizarre opinions. Edmund Burke is an intellectual father of the American Revolution? The Renaissance wasn't real in Poland? Jews and Greeks shared the same 'caberets' in 2nd cent BCE Israel? Ancient Israel was the world's first democracy?

The bizarre claims came so rapidly that it was impossible to keep up with them.
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, wwii
Well written, interesting, not dry or academic non-fiction. This book starts with history so old it is barely described in the Bible. I suppose the author is Jewish but this is not a religious book and it covers the birth of Christianity, its ups and downs and the same for Islamic history objectively. In the early days the three seem like fluid sloshing back and forth in a bucket - then the barbarians attack.

As an example of his non-religious take on things: "We shall ask the same question at t
Joseph Copeli
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
[This review also appears on, a site for review and discussion of creative works.]

Jews, God and History is a phenomenal work which undertakes the difficult and tedious task of presenting the 4,000 year history of the Jewish people. Instead of presenting this history from an insulated point of view, author Max I. Dimont shows the history of the Jews in the context of the entire world; in the vast tapestry of human history on this planet, the Jewish people are shown to be a strand that makes its way/>Jews,
VERY interesting, not only due to its (at times questionably) factual content but for its datedness and bizarre editorial quality as well. This is great for learning a vast amount of the Jewish timeline in a relatively condensed format, but it definitely needs to be supplemented by more reliable and up-to-date sources.
Oct 10, 2016 rated it liked it
If you're looking for a non-biased, objective work on the Jewish history, then steer away from this book. Here you will find that everything/everyone worth mentioning in this world was Jewish, or was somehow influenced by Jews.
Otherwise, it was easy to read, full of humor and historical facts.
Adam Glantz
This wasn't one of my favorite treatments of Jewish history, but to be fair, I don't think I'm Dimont's target audience. The book was originally written in the mid-twentieth century as a popular history by an author who came late to scholarship. Dimont therefore had to catch the attention of people who, by contrast with American readers of popular histories today, were less automatically convinced of the value of multiculturalism, were likely less personally familiar with Jews, and were more lik ...more
May 23, 2010 rated it liked it
This book is what I would call a "popularized" history. It's a fairly light and quick read and a good introduction to Jewish history. I take issue with the fact that Mr. Dimont treats certain characters in Jewish literature as historical (e.g. Abraham, Isaac, etc). Also I'm sure he's wrong about certain things. He states that the Zealots gained members from both the Pharisees and Sadducees. By what I know of those two groups, that would have been impossible as the Sadducees were nothing but Roma ...more
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent history of the Jewish people told from the Jewish perspective. Have read twice.

First finished 15 March 1997

Started second time: 7 April 2002

I seem to recall having seen a mini-series as well.
Sylvia McIvers
What if everyone in the world were still pagans today? Where did monotheism come from, and how did the pagan world - and later, various monotheisms - react to the original monotheist nation?

Overviews of history are interesting, because they can look at larger trends than one politicians lifespan, or one specific war. This book is tremendously ambitious, as it goes back to pagan days and looks at the changes monotheism made, then continues through various empires, social systems, and
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you’.” Genesis 12: 1-3

Civilizations are funny things, following mostly as they do the Spenglerian progression of “a spring phase, g
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
This made for a good read - at least the first half.
The first half gives a secular overview of Jewish history from Abraham to the Enlightenment. (The word "God" in the title is misleading. He does not appear in the book.)
Dimont seems to have two agendas for this part of the book:
1 - Prove that Jews did not get kills more often then Christians before the Renaissance.
2 - Prove that Jews kept the world spinning while incompetent Muslims and reactionary Christians let civilization fall into
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very readable book. I just read the 1st edition, so there might be some good updates in the 2nd. There were some things I saw early on that I felt were historical inaccuracies. These unfortunately made me wonder at some other things I read, but overall it was great and moved along pretty well. It bogged down a bit when it got to the modern era but then picked up again in WWI. I learned a lot and it covered such a vast amount of time that you notice lots of other things you'd like to learn about. ...more
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Not a new book, but related to a PBS special about the history of the Jews. It relates well to another book I am reading, as part of a Bible Study/book club. I've learned, among other things, that the people of Galilee were converted to Judaism only about a century or so BEFORE Jesus. Galilee was once part of the kingdom of Israel, but all the people (the ten tribes!) were scattered and the land left to what the Jews of the time would have called pagans or idolators, and the kingdom of Judea sur ...more
Chris Jaffe
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a second edition of a classic on the history of the Jews. I can see why it’s a classic as it covers a tremendous amount of territory, is very well-written, and the author clearly knows a lot, as he can compare different ideas and historical concepts as they apply to the history of Jews. This in many ways marks some of the best in pop history.

Yeah, but sometimes it also marks the worst in pop history. He does know a lot about many things, but a lot of times the limits of his k
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I have always been curious about the jewish experience. How did a people spread across the world survive as a coherent civilisation for virtually the whole known human history? How could a small nation produce such brilliant men consistently throughout history? How did the jews spread to virtually all parts of the world before global travel became commonplace? Most of these questions are answered by Max I. Dimont in this very readable history.
This book is qualified as a popular history. This do
Stanley Harder
Mar 03, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read a portion of the first chapter and returned the book. The author, who is now deceased, begins with such a jaundiced view of the Bible, God's chosen people, and of faith in general that I couldn't stand to imbibe his personal views on history, especially the history of the Jews. He makes a mockery out of the O.T. accounts, distorting the facts, almost as if he had never read the OT account. For a person claiming to give an honest examination of the historical facts, it seems to me that his ...more
Howard H
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love it when I read a book and think to myself: I can't wait to read this again.

That's Dimont and "Jews, God and History," which I loved. I see some here raising concerns about certain aspects of his history. I'm going to respectfully suggest that some of you might be missing the point. A book like this isn't so much a definitive compendium of fact as it is an epic of interpretation. We might quibble with some of the interpretation. But the sweep of the epic is nothing if not profo
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
incredible history of jews in just 400 pages. Chapter on Roman wars and Josephus is fantastic and so is the history of development of Talmud and other important texts,

Author writes with eloquence with gems like this,

"Historical events do not take place in a vacuum. The unfolding of history resembles the unfolding of a dream. The dreamer at first is aware only of the manifest content, that part which he remembers upon awakening, vivid, real and absurd. But behind it lies
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

As an afficionado of ancient and medieval history, I found this book as comprehensive and enlightening as could possibly be expected, given the vast subject matter. It is a surprisingly easy read despite its length, and highly recommended for those interested in an overview of the history of civilized man, notwithstanding its emphasis on the Jewish saga

Marco den Ouden
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book about forty years ago and still have it in my library. It is a brilliant history of the Jewish people over a span of four thousand years. In the process, it is also a telling history of Christianity and Islam. The book was originally published in 1962. I'm thinking of reading it again in light of current events.
Kenneth Cook
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting overview of how Jewish culture survived in the changing cultures in which historically found itself. This particular book published in 1960 does not include such things as the Six Day War, The Rom Kippur War, the dissoulution of the the Communist Block. Perhaps his later works do cover those and how they affected Jewish History and Culture.
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not only is the history gripping and well-written, but Dimont looks at it through a number of historical lenses: politically, geographically, materially, psychoanalytically... But, my personal favorite is when he summarizes it all with a kabalistic paradigm: the contraction, the vessels of light, the shattering, and the restoration.
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, history
Regardless of your religious background - its worthy of studying. An entertaining presentation of Jewish history with cogent explanations of historical questions, written with immense sense of pride on culture/civilization.
Jeremy Katz
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. While I have insight into Jewish History from my upbringing, Jews, God, and History provided me some new knowledge that I had not known before. I would recommend this book for anyone that has an interest in history.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I was really looking forward to reading this book. But stopped at page 42. The author’s main objective appears to be to disqualify the Bible. Throwing in a bunch of theories discrediting biblical stories - not what I was looking for.
Anjar Priandoyo
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
The second History of Jews book that I read after Simon Schama. This is a classic book, the writing style of classical writing like this is interesting. It also very popular in Indonesia with numerous translation version.
Felicia Roff Tunnah
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good history but another almost 20 yrs has past since this edition - I really need an update!
Richard Wagner
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
i am a big fan of history and this is superb.
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this book some time ago and forgot to enter it. However, it was quite good.
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone interested in world history.
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Max Isaac Dimont (1912-1992)