Paul Johnson is a historian whose work ranges over the millennia and the whole gamut of human activities. He regularly writes book reviews for several UK magazines and newspapers, such as the Literary Review and The Spectator, and he lectures around the world. He lives in London, England.
Famous author-historian Johnson ( Modern Times, LJ 5/1/83; A History of Christianity, LJ 7/76) presents a provocative history of the Jewish people, religion, and culture from earliest times to the present. Astutely divided into seven sections, (Israelites, Judaism, Cathedocracy, Ghetto, Emancipation, Holocaust, and Zion), the work describes the complex interplay between Jewish and world history and shows how the course of Western civilization has been immensely influenced by this numerically small group. It's no mean feat to successfully compress 4000 years of history into 645 pages, but Johnson has more than met the challenge. Despite a few reservationsE. G. Johnson's theories regarding Jesus and the incipient Christian movement are debatablethis is an excellent, nonscholarly history for general readers. Highly recommended for public libraries. Robert A. Silver, Shaker Heights P.L., Ohio
Less a seminal contribution than a distillation of a wide range of sources, this history of the Jews focuses on their four-millennia interplay with, and adaption to, other, often hostile, civilizationsa ``world history seen from the viewpoint of a learned and intelligent victim.'' Weaving biblical and archeological data, Johnson (Modern Times and A History of Christianity is particularly deft at placing the patriarchs and early Israelites (the Bronze Age through the destruction of the First Temple) in their historical context. His dense, somewhat arbitrary, capsule extols Judaic rational scholarshipwhich contributed to ethical monotheism and the 18th-century economic system, in turnand denigrates mystic kabbalah``heresy of the most pernicious kind.'' Although Johnson, who seeks to acknowledge ``the magnitude of the debt Christianity owes to Judaism,'' traces ``an inherent conflict'' between the religion and the state of Israel through the various ages, the work is incontrovertibly sympathetic to Zionism. BOMC and QPBC featured alternates; author tour. (April)