Independent People

For more than a millennium the Jews have been divided between Muslim and Christian countries, and there have been centuries in the Middle Ages when the intellectual influence of Arab philosophy might appear to have given a decisive direction to Hebrew thought. For reasons that Bernard Lewis can explain better …

The Jews of Italy

This essay was prepared for a meeting at Brandeis University last year in honor of Vito Volterra, the great Italian mathematician who died in 1940. Volterra had been a professor at three Italian universities—Turin, Pisa, and Rome—where I also taught. He was elected by the king to the Italian senate …

The Master of Mysticism

In September 1923 two young German Jews embarked together at Trieste on their way to settle in Palestine. One, Gerhard (Gershom) Scholem, born in 1897, was soon to become the greatest Jewish historian of our century. The other, Fritz (Shlomo Dov) Goitein, born in 1900, was perhaps slower in developing, …

On the Pioneer Trail

There is perhaps a slight element of prejudice in the opinion, widespread among us Piedmontese, that San Gennaro and Giambattista Vico must be left to the Neapolitans. This opinion is indeed prejudiced in so far as it does not take into account that both San Gennaro and Vico have proved …

The Greeks and Us

When Moses Finley came to England from Rutgers University in 1954 as a refugee from the McCarthy persecution he had just published his Studies in Land and Credit in Ancient Athens (1952) and was about to publish his World of Odysseus (1954). Taken together, these two books showed him to …

The Historian’s Skin

On June 22, 168 BC, in about one hour, the Macedonian phalanx was destroyed near home, on the fields of Pydna, by the Roman legions. In the Greek East there was no longer any organized force that could check the winners. The old monarchy of Macedon was split into four …

In a Fix

Each of the two latest books by Professor R.A. Nisbet, The Sociological Tradition (1966) and Social Change and History (1969) makes its point forcefully. But taken together the two books seem to me to contradict each other at least in part. In any case I feel that the eminent sociologist …

A Silent World

I wish I knew who invented the word “preliteracy” to indicate the illiteracy of certain extinct or living cultures. The word is not to be found even in the 1959 edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. In American dictionaries it has made its appearance only in recent years. Neither …

History by Committee

Taken by themselves, as products of individual writers, these first two volumes of the History of Mankind sponsored by UNESCO would hardly be worth reviewing. What makes them an object of curiosity is the immense machinery set up ad hoc by UNESCO through an International Commission to help and guide …

Did Fabius Pictor Lie?

What do we want to know about the origins of Rome? Indeed why should we want to know anything about them at all? Nobody, except the specialist, cares very much about the origins of the Greeks or of the Germans. Even the Nazis were unable to whip up a widespread …