Cover: The Tragedy of a Generation: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe, from Harvard University PressCover: The Tragedy of a Generation in HARDCOVER

The Tragedy of a Generation

The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe

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Product Details


$55.00 • £44.95 • €49.50

ISBN 9780674072855

Publication Date: 07/15/2013


400 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

16 halftones


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.—Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

[A] magisterial study… The scholarship here is excellent, tracing the tortured trajectory of an important secular Jewish option through some of the most difficult periods of Jewish history with meticulousness, restraint, and finally empathy. The Tragedy of a Generation: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe records a struggle to create a form of cultural differentiation that would avoid both national chauvinism and complete dissolution.—Glenn Dynner, American Historical Review

Karlip tells a fascinating story of Yiddishist ideologues and activists and their struggles to adapt to the dramatic political changes between the Revolution of 1905 and the Holocaust… [His] sophisticated reading of the interplay between the religious and the secular in Jewish nationalism is Karlip’s most important contribution to modern Jewish historiography, in particular, and literature on nationalism, in general… The strength of Karlip’s argument stands on his rich contextualization and masterful analysis of primary texts, which allow him to successfully historicize and scrutinize the ideological trajectory of his three protagonists. What contributes to the rich texture of Karlip’s book is his impressive source base in Yiddish, Russian, and Hebrew, covering the vast cultural production of Efroikin, Kalmanovitch, and Tcherikower over a few decades (numerous newspapers, scholarly journals, and published and private papers mainly from YIVO archival collections). All of this makes The Tragedy of a Generation an important achievement in recent east European Jewish historical writing.—Anna Cichopek-Gajraj, AJS Review

Karlip’s choice of writing a collective biography is a fitting way of telling the story of diaspora nationalism and its failures. Karlip demonstrates an intimate familiarity with the material throughout, and structures his arguments judiciously… This is a complex and important book that does justice—without romanticizing—the complicated lives, ideologies, and times it analyzes.—Jeffrey Veidlinger, Comptes Rendus

Karlip’s book presents a meticulous study of the thought and activities of three once fairly prominent but now almost completely forgotten Jewish-Russian advocates of the autonomist idea—Elias Tsherikover, Yisroel Efroikin, and Zelig Hirsh Kalmanovitch… Karlip, an extremely promising young historian, has mastered the relevant sources in Yiddish and Hebrew, and his close reading of the twists and turns in the thought of his three intellectuals is rewarding… We can welcome Karlip’s book as an important addition to the growing literature on the birth, development, and death of Jewish nationalism in Eastern Europe.—Ezra Mendelsohn, East European Jewish Affairs

The Tragedy of a Generation is an exceptionally important book. Karlip marvelously and convincingly describes the crisis of a group of Eastern European Jewish intellectuals who could no longer embrace modernity nor return to faith.—Dan Diner, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Simon-Dubnow-Institute, Leipzig University

An outstanding work. Skillfully navigating between biography and wider historical analysis, Karlip’s book stands out for its texture, passion, and range. The Tragedy of a Generation will take its place as a masterpiece of Eastern European Jewish history.—David Myers, University of California, Los Angeles

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