The Pity of It All by Amos Elon
A History of the Jews in Germany, 1743-1933

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Synopsis

From an acclaimed historian and social critic, a passionate and poignant history of German Jews from the mid-eighteenth century to the eve of the Third Reich

As it's usually told, the story of the German Jews starts at the end, with their tragic demise in Hitler's Third Reich. Now, in this important work of historical restoration, Amos Elon takes us back to the beginning, chronicling a period of achievement and integration that at its peak produced a golden age second only to the Renaissance.

Writing with a novelist's eye, Elon shows how a persecuted clan of cattle dealers and wandering peddlers was transformed into a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons, and activists. He peoples his account with dramatic figures: Moses Mendelssohn, who entered Berlin in 1743 through the gate reserved for Jews and cattle, and went on to become "the German Socrates"; Heinrich Heine, beloved lyric poet who famously referred to baptism as the admission ticket to European culture; Hannah Arendt, whose flight from Berlin signaled the end of the German-Jewish idyll. Elon traces how this minority-never more than one percent of the population-came to be perceived as a deadly threat to national integrity, and he movingly demonstrates that this devastating outcome was uncertain almost until the end.

A collective biography, full of depth and compassion, The Pity of It All summons up a splendid world and a dream of integration and tolerance that, despite all, remains the essential ennobling project of modernity.
 

About Amos Elon

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Amos Elon is the author of eight widely praised books, including Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild and the New York Times bestseller Israelis: Founders and Sons. A frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and The New York Review of Books, he divides his time between Jerusalem and Tuscany.
 
Published November 1, 2002 by Metropolitan Books. 464 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Pity of It All

Kirkus Reviews

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A superb account of the sometimes exalted, often tragic relations among Germans and Jews, "two souls within a single body."

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Pity of It All: A History...

The Guardian

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The Pity of It All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743-1933 by Amos Elon 403pp, Allen Lane, £25 Amos Elon, an Israeli historian born in Europe, has written a beautifully balanced history of a tragic, one-sided love affair.

May 10 2003 | Read Full Review of The Pity of It All: A History...

Publishers Weekly

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In his excellent overview, veteran Israeli journalist and historian Elon (a biographer of Herzl and others) writes in a fluid and appealing style, with a talent for capturing the right anecdote or

Sep 09 2002 | Read Full Review of The Pity of It All: A History...

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