The Jews of Europe before the Second World War

576pp 37 PLATES MAP 2012 OUT OF PRINT HA51



This is the portrait of a world on the eve of its destruction. Wasserstein presents a disturbing interpretation of the collapse of European Jewish civilisation before the Nazi onslaught and World War Two, showing how the harsh realities of the age devastated the lives of communities and individuals. By 1939, the Jews faced an existential crisis that was as much the result of internal decay as of external attack. Ranging from Vilna (the 'Jerusalem of Lithuania') to Salonica with its Judeo-Spanish-speaking stevedores and singers, and beyond, the book's focus is squarely on the Jews themselves rather than their persecutors. The author’s aim is to 'breathe life into dry bones', the success of which is enlivened by dry wit.

Nothing less than a marvel. Nothing escapes his gaze. SUNDAY TIMES