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The Wandering Jews by Joseph Roth
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The Wandering Jews (1927)

by Joseph Roth

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The Wandering Jews by Joseph Roth

Known best for his classic novel about the Austria-Hungary Empire, The Redetsky March, Joseph Roth was first and foremost known for his journalistic reports about the state of Europe following the first Great War.

In The Wandering Jews his reports about the state of the Jewish people in Eastern and Western Europe is well documented. From the shtetls of Poland to the streets of Paris and the quarantines of Ellis Island the journeys and lives of the common Jew and the assimilated German Jews are portrayed.

In the first chapter, “Eastern European Jews in the West” while important to frame the time and environment within which he wrote this book, it is rather lengthy and thus boring, for the task at hand. It would have easily been addressed in ½ the time but why quibble, for what follows explodes off the page; in the richness of description and the wisdom of observation he captures all the intricacies of activities and personalities that persist within the Jewish communities of Eastern and Western Europe.

From the muddy streets of the shtetl to the boulevards of Berlin and Paris he reports on the unique qualities of the Jewish people, their history and tradition and the blind eye the German Jews turned on their own kind only to then be caught up in the horrors of the Nuremberg Laws and what followed.

“…The German Jew had grown arrogant. He had lost the God of his fathers and acquired an idol instead: the idol of civilzatory patriotism. But God had not forgotten him. And he sent him on his wanderings, a tribulation that is appropriate to Jews, and to all others besides. Lest we forget that nothing in this world endures, not even a home; and that our life is short, shorter even than the life of the elephant, the crocodile, and the crow. Even parrots outlive us”.

His reports were probably among the first to foretell the coming Holocaust and the damage it left in its wake for both the Jewish people and their tormentors. ( )
  berthirsch | Mar 18, 2012 |
Modern Lierature,Reportage ( )
  AlexTalbot | Jun 28, 2010 |
I founf it so interesting!
A dead, fascinating world
  Melissande | Jun 8, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roth, Josephprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boogert, Marcel van denEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brandstätter, ChristianEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bussotti, FlaminiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dyer, PeterCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hofmann, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mak, GeertPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salter, GeorgCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Snick, ElsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Snick, ElsAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steen, Paul van derIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiesel, EliePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dieses Buch verzichtet auf den Beifall und die Zustimmung, aber auch auf den Widerspruch und sogar die Kritik derjenigen, welche die Ostjuden mißachten, verachten, hassen und verfolgen.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 039332270X, Paperback)

As a journalist, Joseph Roth's greatest strength, and perhaps his greatest weakness, was his self-professed love for his subjects. Roth, who is best known for his novels (particularly The Radetzky March), was the star journalist for the Frankfurter Zeitung in the early 1920s, when he began writing stories that led to The Wandering Jews. This book, newly translated by Michael Hofmann, is a masterpiece of literary journalism whose political prescience (regarding tensions between Eastern and Western Jews and the too-easy consolations of assimilation) is grounded in eclectic character studies (of, for instance, Parisian elites, a carnival performer from Radziwillow, a dock worker in Odessa). In an age of idea-driven journalism, when stories are often tailored to prove a writer's pre-existing thesis, Roth's lovingly inductive reasoning is refreshing. And his aphoristic insights are as spontaneous as they are circumspect. ("When a catastrophe occurs, people on hand are shocked into helpfulness.") The statement that best summarizes Roth's belief about the unalterable fate of the Jews also epitomizes the polished spontaneity of his style: Roth writes that wandering is "a tribulation that is appropriate to all Jews, and to all others besides. Lest we forget that nothing in this world endures, not even a home; and that our life is short, shorter even than the life of the elephant, the crocodile, and the crow. Even the parrots outlive us." --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:03 -0400)

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