Belonging by Simon Schama


The words that failed were words of hope. But they did not fail at all times and everywhere.These gripping pages teem with words of defiance and optimism, sounds and images of tenacious life and adventurous modernism, music and drama, business and philosophy, poetry and politics. The second part of Simon Schama's epic Story of the Jews is neither overwhelmed by hopelessness nor shrouded in the smoke of the crematoria. As much as it gives full wei...

Details Belonging

Release DateOct 5th, 2017
PublisherBodley Head
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Literature, Jewish, Religion, Judaism

Reviews Belonging

  • Paul
    This second volume of Simon Schama's history of the Jewish people begins in the ghettos of Venice where the Jews of the Iberian peninsula had ended up after being expelled. Those that had not escaped were forced to convert and even then were still persecuted. This search for safety and somewhere to live where they could carry on with their lives in peace had been a pressing concern; and as this book explains in some detail, the theme of moving, s...
  • Richard Block
    Belonging NowhereSparkling prose, insightful analysis and personal stories that make a larger point are what distinguish Simon Schama's histories. This one hits the bullseye in every respect, making it a superior sequel to the first volume of the promised three. Tracing the history of the Jews from the time of the inquisition to Zionism is no mean feat, but Schama is up to the task. His knack for focusing on the individual gives his histories a g...
  • Wing
    In this painfully beautiful 700-page second instalment, Schama has given us a string of exquisitely vivid vignettes about the tenacity of an inextinguishable culture that perennially wandered and suffered. It begins with the story about a David Reubeni and ends with a cliffhanger about the very Theodor Herzl - one can see what it is aiming at. It talks about Jewishness, antisemitism, and Zionism. But it is also about the Enlightenment, modernity,...
  • Paulo Reimann
    Let's put it that way......I highly respect Schama and recognize in him a great intellectual. I was looking for something that entertains me without the scholarship flavourful the book provides. My bad. The book is lesser about history more into social pages. Some high points such as the portion, short though, about Jefferson, the Brazilian sefaradis and a bit about the Hungarian assimilated petit bourgeois. Will try, though, volume I.
  • David
    This isn't really a history, instead it is a collection of stories about individual Jews up until 1800. Schama tells of Spinoza, Mendelsom and others in a way that people would tell stories in a break room. Complete with witty asides, jargon and stereotypes. Jews have survived for over two thousand years in spite of, or maybe because of persecutions and rabid antisemitism.
  • Barbara
    This is a mammoth book - 700 pages of Simon Schama's inimitable and dazzling way of telling history through the stories of individuals. And what characters they are - rich and poor, learned and unlearned, fixers and dealers, actor-managers, poetesses, opera composers, a US diplomat, builders of railways, a remarkable bare-knuckle boxing champion in London at the end of the 18th century..... The book bursts with life, but at the same time there is...
  • Rebecca
    This is a sprawling work covering a whole gamut of Jewish experience throughout the Early Modern world. It is ambitious, tragic and absorbing. The stories Schama follows are remarkable, and he does tell them in an engaging and literate manner (more than once, for instance, clearly enjoying his use of alliteration).In general, the book uses the individual families or networks to encapsulate the Jewish experience in a moment of time, in a specific ...
  • Sara Laor
    A very heavy book, and I certainly felt that I was in a multi-mirrored house of Jewish horrors spanning the many centuries and continents. It's hard to feel uplifted after reading this magisterial and factually depressing book. I'm glad Schama ended with Herzl -- he is certainly the very germ of a seed of the next chapter, yet to be written. I recommend this book, but it is definitely not for the un-initiated. Reading it in a New York city drunk ...
  • Alex
    I think this volume was actually more depressing than the last, because wow did the Enlightenment fail. However, Schama's writing style and focus on individuals made it bearable as ever, and I learned so much. I was a little disappointed by the relative lack of information about the Haskalah and origins of the Hasidim - the latter got a short section, though the former seemed to be covered by a mini-biography of Moses Mendelssohn (interesting but...
  • Riet
    Een schitterend vervolg op zijn eerste deel van de Geschiedenis van de Joden. Schama is een echte verteller. De geschiedenis wordt steeds verbonden aan mensen van vlees en bloed, wat het allemaal zeer leesbaar maakt. Ik vond het gedeelte over de Joden in Nederland erg interessant. In de laatste hoofdstukken zie je al, dat alles wat er in de vorige eeuw gebeurd is, bijna onvermijdbaar was. Hitler heeft alles niet alleen bedacht.
  • Elka
    Magesterial, wise and witty. This isn't strictly a history of the Jews, in that it focuses more on the exceptions rather than the rules. Jews of the Middle East appear almost exclusively through the eyes of their European counterparts. This is not a textbook so much as a guide.Still, it's a fabulous ride from the expulsion from Spain to the rise of political Zionism.
  • Caroline
    As expected, fascinating, especially where figures I recognize from art history appear as significant players in their worlds. A large, densely printed tome unsuited to being toted about, so rather slow going.
  • Murray Braun
    Read the first four chapters which deal with the 16th century. Compared with "A Convenient Hatred: History of Anti-Semitism," there is little if anything written about Luther and the importance of the reformation. The stress here is on Italy and Turkey with a side-trip to Safed.
  • Simon Harrison
    Schama’s usual light touch, deployed to make the longer reads no issue, is widely dispersed in Belonging. It feels like a slog. Good but not Schama-Great.
  • Maria
    learned a lot from this volume as well