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Simon Schama's new book




Schama's new book is a single-volume thing called THE STORY OF THE JEWS: FINDING THE WORDS 1000 BC - 1492 AD.


Wow. Not quite 2,500 years. And about 500 pages, so if we round off both numbers a bit we get a coverage of five years per page.


I suppose someone tried to talk Schama out of ending his book with the circumstances of the Jews in the reconquered Spain of 1492. Someone must have tried, but couldn't 'torquemada' any such thing.


I've always been fascinated by really sweeping books like this, especially the single volume type, because multi-volume sets seem like cheating.


Digging into a small patch, writing a micro-history and finding it as complicated as, well, 2,500 years in the history of Jews, is another kind of achievement, and its value has come to me only more recently, as I've appreciated the fractal nature of historical fact.


You can write history as fascinating working at the five-minutes-a-page scale.



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