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A passionate history of a world unfolding across many continents and five centuries by one of our greatest and internationally bestselling historians.

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE

SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 BY THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, MAIL ON SUNDAY AND OBSERVER

Belonging is a magnificent cultural history abundantly alive with energy, character and colour. From the Jews’ expulsion from Spain in 1492 it tells the stories not just of rabbis and philosophers but of a poetess in the ghetto of Venice; a boxer in Georgian England; a general in Ming China; an opera composer in nineteenth-century Germany. The story unfolds in Kerala and Mantua, the starlit hills of Galilee, the rivers of Colombia, the kitchens of Istanbul, the taverns of Ukraine and the mining camps of California. It sails in caravels, rides the stage coaches and the railways; trudges the dawn streets of London, hobbles along with the remnant of Napoleon’s ruined army.


The Jewish story is a history that is about, and for, all of us. And in our own time of anxious arrivals and enforced departures, the Jews’ search for a home is more startlingly resonant than ever.

Reviews

A magnificent achievement… [a] parade of bustlingly vital characters from across the globe ... all painted in luminous colour… By offering such a throbbing cavalcade of characters, Schama is defying several key assumptions, even stereotypes, about Jewish history and Jews themselves… Above all, while much Jewish history can read like a sorrowful trudge through disaster, plague and pogrom, Schama’s book teems with life rather than death

Jonathan Freedland, Guardian

Magisterial ... the product of a world-class historian at the peak of his creative powers … rich, ornate, intensely evocative and sensory. With astonishing range and extraordinary synthesising powers, Schama captures the drama of Jewish history.

Financial Times

A rich melody that soars above the ground bass of prejudice and persecution … Schama has made himself the leading virtuoso of our time. This second volume of this trilogy is an affirmation of faith in the grand narrative … Its familiar and familial tone proclaims the author’s unapologetic mission to play his part in the story of the Jews by bringing their history alive… [A] glittering gemstone of a book

Daniel Johnson, The Times

So beautifully written it regularly takes your breath away, it is a book far greater than the sum of its parts. Daunted by its colossal size, I started reading with some trepidation; I finished filled with wonder and delight.

Abigail Green, Times Literary Supplement

An extraordinary cultural journey, filled with astonishingly colourful and outrageous characters … Schama delivers a superb and thrilling ride, both inspirational and tragic.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Mail on Sunday

Magisterial… a wonderfully rich narrative … The third and final volume won’t be easy reading. But at least in the company of Schama – one of the finest writers and thinkers of his generation – we’re guaranteed a guide both insightful and eloquent

Saul David, Daily Telegraph

Rich, complex and fascinating … Schama maintains the attention with the vividness of his writing and his talent for unearthing gripping figures full of human contradictions. And through this dazzling immersion in the preoccupations of the period that the bigger picture slowly emerges … Profoundly illuminating

Andrew Anthony, Observer

Simon Schama is an international treasure ... By painterly touches, he manages to convey colour, texture, shape, context, light and shadow, as well as to stimulate the senses ... He is imaginative, epigrammatic and fearless ... an effervescent cicerone who instructs and entertains in like measure.

Bernard Wasserstein, Spectator

Immensely erudite and compulsively readable … The importance of Schama’s book is that it forces the reader to think about how the long and shameful legacy of Christian hatred for Jews is reworked in “enlightened” society… Deeply engaging

Rowan Williams, New Statesman

Schama is a talented storyteller with a dramatist’s eye for character … Schama leavens his tale with wit and charm, while also displaying remarkable breadth of research and erudition, ranging fluently from Sephardic merchant princes in the Mediterranean to fevered kabbalistic sects in Galilee

Josh Glancy, Sunday Times

The second volume of Simon Schama’s story of the Jews…continues with a cast of characters so extraordinary that some seem hardly more believable than the Sabbath-keeping Sambatyon river… Schama, as both a historian and a Jew, closes his wonderful book the only way he could: with love shot through with melancholy and foreboding

The Economist

Schama writes history through personalities, a technique that makes the second of his vast-ranging history of his people as gripping as the first… All these stories offer pathways backwards and forwards in time, and make an unforgettable tale of mixed fortunes

Christina Hardyment, The Times

A masterpiece

Erica Wagner, New Statesman

A revelation. It is an engaging and electrifying read by a skilled literary craftsman, cultural historian and tour guide … Schama enchants his readers by introducing colorful characters worthy of a Charles Dickens novel ... [it] dazzles with the art and alchemy of an adventure novel

Thane Rosenbaum, Washington Post Sunday

Schama writes with power and energy, and his patchwork of individual tales crosses the world.

Anthony Satting, The Observer

Extraordinary… From Britain to France, from America to the dark forests of central and eastern Europe, Schama’s scalpel-like wit and painterly descriptions provide a bravura panorama of the Jewish story

Jenni Frazer, Jewish Chronicle

It’s a riveting read, bursting with anecdote, colour and wit. Schama uses individual stories to highlight horror and suffering, but also to illustrate bravery, achievement and hope

Peter Frankopan, History Today

Few historians write with the energy of Simon Schama. His second volume on the history of the Jews shows that Schama has lost none of his vigour

David Abulafia, Standpoint

Simon Schama takes the reader through a grand sweep of Jewish history, but he makes it so personal you begin to feel you know the men and women whose lives shine out from the pages, and their foibles, and you get a sense of the fragility of their lives and their determination to survive. It's a brilliant piece of work

Julia Neuberger, Senior Rabbi, West London Synagogue

Schama's speciality is to take sometimes little-known historical figures and bring them dramatically to life. We are presented with a glittering cast of Jews from every century since the 15th ... Belonging shows Jews as prize-fighters and charlatans, theatre managers and physicians, writers, actors, painters, farmers and musicians. They are men and women of every sort, who leap off the pages as they struggle with what Schama has defined as the abiding challenge of Jewish life in the diaspora

Jewish Chronicle

Simon Schama’s epic tale of the Jewish people is full of rich, colourful stories that span centuries and continents and include massacres, miracles, discrimination and tolerance… Passionate

Life & Living

In the hands of a master colourist, this is history as a portrait gallery.

The Economist

It is an engaging and electrifying read by a skilled literary craftsman, cultural historian and tour guide.

Thane Rosenbaum, Guardian

Dazzling.

Daniel Beer, Guardian

Schama presents his material with the wit and panache of a novelist. The reader is treated to a dazzling parade of humanity in all its glory and shame. Every page sparkles with rich material and the range of learning is breathtaking. The story of Jewish survival – and sometimes even flourishing – against all the odds is utterly riveting.

Rev. Dr. John Harrod, Methodist Recorder

Simon Schama is the perfect companion for a time-travelling journey through Jewish history… A beguiling narrator.

David J. Wasserstein, The Tablet

These accounts make such fascinating reading that, through Schama’s extraordinary gift for storytelling, his book was difficult to put down.

Anthony Phillips, Church Times

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099590064

    October 15, 2018

    Vintage

    800 pages

    RRP $30.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • Paperback

    9780099546689

    September 16, 2014

    Vintage

    512 pages

    RRP $28.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook

    9781448190669

    October 12, 2017

    Vintage Digital

    800 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ
  • EBook

    9781409040040

    September 12, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    512 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ