This sweeping examination of the history of civilizations as it applies to Jewish civilization is an impressive, long-overdue look at the way by which Jewish history should be examined in today’s fast-moving world.
The author is a senior fellow of the Jewish People Policy Institute and a retired social scientist. In this remarkable survey of the past, Shalom Salomon Wald seems to be urging international levelheadedness.
Viewing the rise and decline of civilizations is something which has often been thought of as a hallmark of good historical analysis. Examining the rhythms of past struggles for land, water, or the place into which one’s culture or religion fits in the long run has been a cornerstone of trying to foresee what the future holds. Wald notes that there are two traditional philosophies of history: cyclical and linear. Traditional Jewish historiography is linear — one generation transmits tradition from point zero to today and repeatedly renews itself.
Wald selects twenty-three Jewish and non-Jewish writers from Thucydides (ca. 460 – 400 BCE) to Arthur Herman (1956 — ) and skillfully encapsulates their philosophy of history. He demonstrates his broad familiarity with historical analysis and has produced a work which should be read by history buffs, teachers, and librarians.