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Belonging: The Story of the Jews traces a cultural diversity—and a shared memory

Simon Schama's new book tells a sometimes dark history—but sounds a fundamentally optimistic note

By Sameer Rahim   February 2018

Simon Schama. Photo: PA

Simon Schama’s Lithuanian great-uncle worked for a travelling circus. The historian is a chip off the old block, a charismatic ringmaster who in this second volume of his story of the Jews marshals a large cast—traders, thinkers, doctors, boxers and more—while keeping the narrative plates spinning. Schama tells the amazing tales of the Jews who made their lives in London, Amsterdam, Venice, Istanbul and elsewhere. Periods of relative tolerance were punctuated with persecution by Christian or Muslim overlords. But this book is fundamentally optimistic and…

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