The Story of the Jews: A 4,000-Year Adventure - Stan Mack

Robyn reviewed this book about two years ago, which was close to the time we purchased it at a going-out-of-business sale in Salina, KS, but I never got around to reading it until just now. We're getting ready for a rural rotation that lasts five weeks, which is too long to check out a library book, so I'm finally going through some of the books that I actually own instead of raiding the library shelves. Of course, I'm also taking a slew of borrowed DVDs with me so we'll see how much reading I actually do out in John Day.

The Story of the Jews isn't quite comics. It's more like a heavily-illustrated story. There's a narrative text paired with cartoons that are sometimes just illustrative and sometimes are little funny comics with dialogue balloons. It's a fairly short book for the amount that it tries to cover (4,000 years, as the title says), so a lot of things are skimmed over. Still, it's a good overview of the origin of Judaism and how it became what it is today. Terms like mishnah, Talmud, and shtetl are explained throughout the course of the book, and there's a handy index in the back to look things up if you need a review.

It was also helpful for me to get a glimpse at things that are very much a part of Jewish culture (the Maccabees, for instance) but aren't in the Bible. The strangest thing about the book to me was that God plays a very small part in the story. In fact, his role almost seems optional; he may or may not be real, and it doesn't really seem to matter. It's also strange that there's never any mention of Hannukah and its origins or significance.

So, it's an interesting presentation and is a good overview of some parts of Judaism, but certainly leaves out quite a lot in order to fit a large span of time in a short book.

Fed to jonathan's brain | May 20, 2005 | Comments (0)


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