This book traces the history of the ancient Khazar Empire, a major but almost forgotten power in Eastern Europe, which in the Dark Ages became converted to Judaism. Khazaria was finally wiped out by the forces of Genghis Khan, but evidence indicates that the Khazars themselves migrated to Poland and formed the cradle of Western Jewry. To the general reader the Khazars, who flourished from the 7th to 11th century, may seem infinitely remote today. Yet they have a close and unexpected bearing on our world, which emerges as ...
This book traces the history of the ancient Khazar Empire, a major but almost forgotten power in Eastern Europe, which in the Dark Ages became converted to Judaism. Khazaria was finally wiped out by the forces of Genghis Khan, but evidence indicates that the Khazars themselves migrated to Poland and formed the cradle of Western Jewry. To the general reader the Khazars, who flourished from the 7th to 11th century, may seem infinitely remote today. Yet they have a close and unexpected bearing on our world, which emerges as Koestler recounts the fascinating history of the ancient Khazar Empire. At about the time that Charlemagne was Emperor in the West. The Khazars' sway extended from the Black Sea to the Caspian, from the Caucasus to the Volga, and they were instrumental in stopping the Muslim onslaught against Byzantium, the eastern jaw of the gigantic pincer movement that in the West swept across northern Africa and into Spain. Thereafter the Khazars found themselves in a precarious position betwen the two major world powers: the Eastern Roman Empire in Byzantium and the triumphant followers of Mohammed. As Koestler points out, the Khazars were the Third World of their day. They chose a surprising method of resisting both the Western pressure to become Christian and the Eastern to adopt Islam. Rejecting both, they converted to Judaism. Mr Koestler speculates about the ultimate faith of the Khazars and their impact on the racial composition and social heritage of modern Jewry. He produces a large body of meticulously detailed research.
Reading this book is a must. It's illustrative in both a political and a theological perspective to understand how religions are used for the most pragmatical and political purposes.
Dec 26, 2009
This is a good read. It may be a little hard to swallow the core "mysteries" of the Khazar kingdom and its strange conversion but once Koestler works through his "evidence" it seems pretty clear. It is often hard going as the author details the sources and uncertainties but that doesn't detract from the strength of the story. It is a rewarding book.
Oct 27, 2008
An Island in a Rough Sea
I always wondered what happened to the Jews after each Diasporia. How severe was the punishment? Where did they go? Did they cease to exist or get absorbed into other cultures?
In 1959 on a lonely hilltop in the Sierra Del Carmen in Old Mexico, I had a group of about twelve men approach me and tell me "we no Mexican." They were Apache Indians, Americans driven out of West Texas by the Buffalo Soldiers of Ft. Davis, Texas about one hundred years previous. They were mad and I was white. I said "fantastic, tell me about it." To my relief, they started smiling, dropped to their haunches and told me some of what happened. We had a language problem. One hundred years later, this tribe was only thirty miles into Old Mexico and right off the Big Bend National Park.
They were a village of about thirty people with more settled "out and about." They still were proud of who they were as a race and were separate.
I will imagine this is pretty much what happened when the Jews went to Spain and were accepted for a while and then driven out. One of the places they fled to was an island of power in lower Russia where a strong group of people had adopted the Jewish faith and wanted input as to how to live as a Jew.
This book ... tells the story and will give you closure on a lot of your questions.
Jul 11, 2007
A must read
With so much censorship upon the public's literature and with all the psuedo-facts surrounding modern Jewry, this book was a breath of fresh air to this historian. The Thirteenth Tribe is a scholarly undertaking of the highest order. This is a must read for those who appreciate the undiluted straight facts of dark aged history.
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