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Simon Schama

Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492-1900

Hay Festival 2018, 

In our own time of anxious arrivals and enforced departures, the Jews’ search for a home is more startlingly resonant than ever. Belonging is a magnificent cultural history abundantly alive with energy, character and colour. From the Jews’ expulsion from Spain in 1492 it navigates miracles and massacres, wandering, discrimination, harmony and tolerance; to the brink of the twentieth century and, it seems, a point of profound hope. Schama tells the stories not just of rabbis and philosophers but of a poetess in the ghetto of Venice; a boxer in Georgian England; a general in Ming China; an opera composer in 19th- century Germany. The story unfolds in Kerala and Mantua, the starlit hills of Galilee, the rivers of Colombia, the kitchens of Istanbul, the taverns of Ukraine and the mining camps of California.