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Jews, G-d, and History

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Jews, G-d and History

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Jews, G-d and History
Revised and Updated Edition
By Max I. Dimont
Mentor Books, (1994)
ISBN: 0-4516-2866-7

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - May 14, 2002

When Jews, G-d and History was first published in 1962, it became an instant hit, and has never gone 'out of fashion' since. In this monumental work, Max I. Dimont offers a brief, yet surprisingly detailed, history of the Jewish People. This new edition of Jews, G-d and History has been revised and updated .

The text is organized chronologically, and covers 4,000 years of history. In its pages, Dimont vibrantly tells the story of a well-traveled people who have survived, time after time, against the odds. This works serves to show that the history of the Jewish people has been intricately interwoven with every civilization to have ever existed. Dimont also asks, and answers the questions, "How did they survive?" History is cyclical. Civilizations rise and fall, it has always been this way, and only one civilization has broken the mold. While others civilizations have risen, and fallen, the Jews have endured - despite the fact that many have tried with all their might to help ensure that the Jewish Civilization would fall. None has ever succeeded, and if Dimont is correct, none ever will.

Jews, G-d and History is not just a history of the Jews, but also of the World, as a whole (or at least the Western World). The Jews have, throughout time, often found themselves living within the embrace of other civilizations. Dimont explores how the Jews, unlike others, escaped the trap of assimilation. He also looks at the influence the Jews have had upon the civilizations that they lived amongst, and how this influence has been transmitted down through time.

Exploring the historical foundations of Judaism up to the present day, this is a lively, and eminently readable history. It will keep you engrossed from the very moment you start reading. Dimont has an articulate, and often humorous style of writing that often comes across as if he is talking to a friend. This is a refreshing change from the all to numerous history books that read like a lecture delivered in a monotone. If you are Jewish, this book will give you a solid grounding in your own history, and you will not be able, but to be proud of your tenacious forebears. Even if you're not Jewish, you'll find this book fascinating. Jews, G-d and History is not written from a 'religious' viewpoint. Rather, Dimont writes from a secular, and scholastically centered slant. He is not preaching anything about religion, merely offering a lively and readable history of an often misunderstood people. Throughout, he shows just how interconnect, and interdependent everyone really is.

Now, to the hard part. Is this book 100% historically accurate? No. Does Dimont make some claims that may be a bit hard to accept? Yes. Will everyone like this book? No. Do I recommend this book? Without reserve. Even if you quibble with some of his facts, or are disappointed that he does not give more emphasis on the religiosity of the Jews as a major factor in their long-term survival, this is still an excellent book. It is not only engagingly written and fun to read, but it also offers readers a general outline of Jewish history that they can use as a starting point for further study.

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