A Nation of Words
Written by Miriam Weinstein
History - Jewish
eBook, ISBN 978-1-58642-210-3 (1-58642-210-3), 300 pages
$13.99 (CANADIAN $18.99)
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AUTHOR BIOGRAPHYMiriam Weinstein grew up in the Bronx following World War II, a time and place where Yiddish was standard fare. Once a documentary filmmaker, she is now a freelance journalist whose features have won several awards from the New England Press Association. Her other books include The Surprising Power of Family Meals, also available from Steerforth Press.
ABOUT THIS BOOKThis first-ever popular history of Yiddish is so full of life that it reads like a biography of the language.
For a thousand years Yiddish was the glue that held a people together. Through the intimacies of daily use, it linked European Jews with their heroic past, their spiritual universe, their increasingly far-flung relations. In it they produced one of the world's most richly human cultures.
Impoverished and disenfranchised in the eyes of the world, Yiddish-speakers created their own alternate reality - wealthy in appreciation of the varieties of human behavior, spendthrift in humor, brilliantly inventive in maintaining and strengthening community. For a people of exile, the language took the place of a nation. The written and spoken word formed the Yiddishland that never came to be. Words were army, university, city-state, territory. They were a people's home.
The tale, which has never before been told, is nothing short of miraculous - the saving of a people through speech. It ranges far beyond Europe, from North America to Israel to the Russian-Chinese border, and from the end of the first millenium to the present day. This book requires no previous knowledge of Yiddish or of Jewish history - just a curious mind and an open heart.
PRAISE“A charming and highly readable history of the language . . . Weinstein succeeds in her efforts to recreate the sound of a world that is gone forever.” —The Washington Post
“Yiddish: A Nation of Words reads like a folktale peppered with passionate characters." —The Boston Globe
“Almost everyone knows a little Yiddish, a word or two, a joke perhaps, but what do they really know of the history, the tragedies, and bitter controversies that characterized a language now on the U.N.’s endangered list, but once spoken by eleven million people. . . . Part of the problem has been the lack of a serious, yet accessible book to fill the gap between glib entertainments. . . . Weinstein’s book aims to do that and her success . . . is substantial.” — Los Angeles Times