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Capsule Review

The Tragedy of a Generation: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe

In This Review

The Tragedy of a Generation: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe
The Tragedy of a Generation: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe
By Joshua M. Karlip
Harvard University Press, 2013, 400 pp. $45.00 Purchase

Jewish nationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is normally associated with Zionism. But that association overlooks the remarkable alternative forms taken by the idea of a Jewish state. At the turn of the century, many young Jewish intellectuals considered the idea of a homeland in Palestine impractical and unnecessary. They were instead animated by a vision of an autonomous Jewish state within a democratic, multiethnic, and (for many) socialist Russia and eastern Europe. Karlip, with skill and clarity, navigates the many cross-currents and links between Zionism and “diaspora nationalism” and its cultural companion, Yiddishism. He examines and compares the two ideologies’ cultural and political aspects, the fluctuating role of socialist ideals in each, and, in particular, their struggles to reconcile old and new Jewishness and classical Judaism with contemporary European culture. The result is a substantial enrichment of Russian, eastern European, and Jewish history. Karlip uses the lives of three seminal figures -- Yisroel Efroikin, Zelig Kalmanovitch, and Elias Tcherikower -- to tell the story of the movement’s early idealism, inspired in part by the 1905 Russian Revolution, through its decay in the wake of World War I and the Holocaust.

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In This Review

The Tragedy of a Generation: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe
The Tragedy of a Generation: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe
By Joshua M. Karlip
Harvard University Press, 2013, 400 pp. $45.00 Purchase

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