Anna Foa's richly innovative history of Jewish life in Europe from the fourteenth through the nineteenth century breaks through the boundaries of traditional narratives. Instead of featuring a long series of catastrophes and cataclysms and the Jews' responses to them, Foa concentrates on the creative aspects of Jewish life, and on continuities and correspondences among very different local Jewish communities.
Foa's illuminating overview of the issues and debates that have dominated the study of Western European Jewish society more than justifies her blending of narrative history with thematic investigations. This is, perhaps surprisingly, the story of a stability that underlies and survives change. In a new afterword, prepared expressly for the English edition, Foa talks about the twentieth century's two transforming phenomena, Zionism and the Holocaust, and the ways they have changed Jewish identity and historiography.
Anna Foa is a research fellow at the University of Rome "La Sapienza." In addition to The Jews of Europe after the Black Death (published in Italy as Ebrei in Europa, 1992), she is the author or editor of four other books, most recently Giordano Bruno (1998). Andrea Grover is Adjunct Associate Professor of Humanities at New York University.
"Thoughtful, provocative, and lucidly written, this is a remarkably successful attempt to reconstruct the history of the Jews of Europe in a comparative perspective."—Carlo Ginzburg, author of The Cheese and the Worms