Today I began reading Simon Schama's first volume of The Story of the Jews. I ordered it last winter when the PBS documentary aired, and it kept getting bumped in my reading for other things pertinent to stuff I was doing at church. I am mesmerized by Schama's prose in this book (in 2008 I read his Landscape and Memory). Here are some excellent excerpts only from the four page Foreword:
For a couple of hours after supper, the sages, false messiahs, poets and rabble-rousers came into our little company as we cracked walnuts and jokes, and drank wine and the brimming cup of Jewish words.
Over everything else, understandably, the crematoria smoke still hung its tragic pall.
But, whatever the cost of breaking it, silence is not a historian's option.
We would moor under the willows to wrestle with the pain of Shylock.