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If Jews today understand themselves as products of the historical past, it is as much due to Heinrich Graetz and his renowned History of the Jews as to anyone. Written in Germany in the second half of the 19th century and translated into English by the Jewish Publication Society, Graetz’s five-volume History captured the entire sweep of the Jewish past as no one had done before—and none has done since. One can’t help but be struck not only by Graetz’s vast erudition, but by two qualities often lacking in historical scholarship today: a writing style that brings history to life, and Graetz’s unrestrained passion for his subject.





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