Though not short, this accessibly written history is meant for those without an in-depth knowledge of Jewish survival. Conveying 3,000 years of the Jewish peoples’ wanderings and exile, up to and including settlement in modern day Israel, A Short History of the Jews is illustrated with pages from unusual Passover Haggadot and other Jewish-themed art.
The book begins with myths and legends from ancient Persia and Hellenized Rome, exploring the roots of Bible stories in historical and cultural context. Brenner writes with a wide lens, capturing with a modern eye daily experiences of Jewish ancestors and the cultures they traveled through. He covers the fall of ancient Israel and Judah, many cyclical worldwide Diasporas, and the development of the religion we recognize as modern Rabbinic Judaism. He describes how the Torah and Talmud, the Mishna and Gemarra were compiled. He follows expulsions, mystical movements, false messiahs, the Enlightenment, and Jewish reformation. He tracks how antisemitism developed and led to the Holocaust, and he covers the formation of different strains of modern Jewish thought and religious denomination, moving through the formation of modern Israel and American Jewish culture. Brenner offers a digestible, interesting, complex history, in an accessible format. Includes appendix, further reading, index.