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Simon Schama’s History of the Jews

Simon Schama

27/02/2013
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Due to popular demand, Schama returned for a second visit to Jewish Book Week 2013, for a conversation with Ian Black, The Guardian’s Middle East editor, about his book and TV series. This event was not recorded.

The Story of the Jews and The Fate of the World is expected to be one of the most discussed books of 2013. Accompanied by a major BBC television series, it is a landmark history of a culture, a people, a world – from the time of Moses to our own.

Simon Schama presented a special preview of the book and documentary at Jewish Book Week. It describes an intellectual territory reaching from the Hebrews’ invention of a single God to Jewish responsibility for killing the saviour, to currents of dispossession, destruction and diaspora. The account takes in the birth of modernism and the horrors of the 20th century.

In Schama’s inimitable style, this is not only indispensable history, it is raucous and characterful too, taking in the Jewish joke, Jewish sportsmen, Yiddish theatre, painting and music.

Simon Schama


Sir Simon Schama, CBE is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University and a Contributing Editor of the Financial Times. He is the author of nineteen books and the writer-presenter of fifty documentaries on art, history and literature for BBC2. His art criticism for The New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for criticism in 1996; his film on Bernini from The Power of Art won an Emmy in 2007 and his series on British history and The American Future: a History, Broadcast Critics Guild awards. He won the NCR non-fiction prize for Citizens, National Book Critics Circle award for Rough Crossings, the WH Smith Literary Award for Landscape and Memory. In 2015 he received the Premio Antonio Feltrinelli in historical sciences from the Accademia nazionale dei Lincei in Rome. His The Story of the Jews: Finding the Wordswas published in 2015 and the second volume Belongingin 2017. In the autumn of 2016, The Face of Britain, a history of British portraiture appeared as a five-part BBC television series; a book and an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. In 2018, Civilizations, a nine-part BBC television series on world art, of which he wrote and presented five. In May 2019,Wordy: Sounding off on high art, low appetite and the power of memory, was published. His latest television series, The Romantics and Us, is currently airing on the BBC. 

Ian Black


Ian Black was Middle East editor of The Guardian until 2016. In 36 years on the paper he was also Jerusalem Correspondent, Diplomatic Editor, European Editor and Chief Foreign Editorial Writer. He has covered major events in the Middle East, from the Iran-Iraq War to the Palestinian Intifadas and the uprisings of the Arab Spring. He has also written for The Washington Post and The Economist. He is now a visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics.