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Emancipation: How Liberating Europe's Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance
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Emancipation: How Liberating Europe's Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  72 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
For almost 500 years the Jews of Europe were kept apart, confined to ghettos or tiny villages in the countryside. Then, in one extraordinary moment in the French Revolution, the Jews of France were emancipated. Soon the ghetto gates were opened all over Europe. The era of Emancipation had begun. What happened next would change the course of history.

Emancipation tells the
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published November 3rd 2009 by Simon & Schuster
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Jan Rice
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Several years ago at a book-festival presentation, Douglas A. Blackmon, the author of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, asserted the outburst of creativity by African Americans after Civil Rights and the end of Jim Crow was unprecedented. The present book suggests otherwise: that impressive though that flowering was, Blackmon was overlooking another, earlier emancipation.

At the start of the Enlightenment era you could count the nu
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Michael Goldfarb records how most of the advances toward modern governments in Europe were often started with the discussion of whether or not to emancipate the Jews. Once released from the ghettos the brains and talent came out and produced stars in every field--Einstein, Freud, Mahler, etc. So much history in 367 pages yet It was thorough and so very readable. Interesting was that once made a citizen, a Jew in France was a Frenchman. In Germany even with rights amid citizenship ...more
May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I really like this book! It reintroduced me to French history, then clearly expanded my awareness into Germany and beyond. I am very impressed with Goldfarb's ability to remain clear and not confuse the players, the political positions, the development of religious expressions, music & poetry, science, and journalism. Fascinating. It sounds a little overwhelming, but topic by topic, and using key individuals and historic events, I'm left with a much richer sense of what tolerance and accepta ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A rich historical narrative that is highly recommended. Encompasses European history and story of European jews emancipation from late eighteenth century to early twentieth one.
As a kid from te late 80s, I have no experience with antisemitism. Most of what I know is from WWII or American tv shows. This book shows me some of that history. It shows the restrictions and prejudices that existed, the fights that were fought and the beginning of their emancipation. I now understand far better how nazi Germany could have demonized the Jews, that they were the last in a long history of repression. It showed me a side of Europe and religious history that I hereto was only barel ...more
Elliot Ratzman
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a readable history of European Jewish emancipation—both legally as citizens and culturally as writers, thinkers and doers. It draws on many of the right secondary sources and shapes what has always struck me as a confusing patchwork of national histories into a manageable narrative; I found myself learning something new in every chapter. Tracing Jewish life from its most restrictive to its flowering in the 20th century, Goldfarb uses major figures as markers for the big turns in history. ...more
Anne Van
May 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Hard to believe.....but here's a 19th century European history book that's so riveting I couldn't put it down. Beautifully written by a journalist who summarizes and simplifies the historical context so that his theme...the amazing story of how Europe's Jews went from being locked out of society in ghettos (literally) to being the heart and soul of European intellectual history within a century. From the French Revolution to the rise of Hitler in 1933, the authors dovetails the stories of indivi ...more
Ben Langleben
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-history
Brings the key players and acts of this critical period in Jewish and European history to life. Each chapter focuses on a particular individual or group of characters, with key events in their lives described as might be found in a novel or perhaps a feature article. This was a most interesting and enlightening read, which makes me surprised that Goldfarb is not better known. For me there is no comparison between this and Schama's "the story of the the Jews" for example with which I am ingesting ...more
Lauren Albert
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who reads popular history knows that there is sometimes a fine line between popular and superficial. In Emancipation, Goldfarb has produced an amazing example of the best kind of popular history. It is eminently readable, well-researched, and covers a lot of ground without ever seeming to be just skimming over the surface. As with other great history works, it inspires you to want to go into more depth and to seek out other works on the topic.
Dec 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My first book to read entirely on a Kindle - many great history lessons here for me: a greater understanding of the Jewish escape from the ghettos, and bios for many fine and important German and French rabbis of the late 1700s and 1800s. Fascinating - and I'm wild about the Kindle; I had this book loaded within 7 min of hearing it reviewed on NPR.
Mar 18, 2010 added it
Boring. That about sums this one up for me. Textbooks are more interesting than this book. There was alot of early European history but it just wasn't that interesting.
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very interesting, and infrequently told, account of the liberation of Europe's Jews in the 18th and 19th centuries
David Curwin
Fascinating book. So much of the period from the French Revolution to the Nazis that I did not know. Now I'm trying to figure out the theological significance of it all.
Cynthia Gelper
Oct 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating history of Western European Jewish life in the 18th and 19th centuries and how bound up their freedom was with politics and revolution. Who knew?
Iris Nagler
Mar 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Very good read. Informative and enlightening.
Andy Weiss
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An excellent read tying the threads of history together showing how we arrived where we are today. The echos continue in the middle east and in the Ukraine.
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“It is wrong to judge revolutions by whether they succeed or fail. Virtually all revolutions fail. Either they fail literally and are reversed by forces of reaction or they fail metaphorically by compromising their lofty goals. The fairest way to assess the impact of a revolution is by the fact that it happens at all.” 4 likes
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