UNSETTLED: An Anthropology of the Jews


Praise for Melvin Konner’s Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews:

“Melvin Konner’s Unsettled is a poignant and highly accessible account of an ongoing story that transcends all telling.”

–Harold Bloom, author of The Western Canon and The Book of J


“This story of the Jewish character and history is by turns moving, shocking, disturbing and fascinating, and sometimes funny, too.  I learned a lot from it.”

–Paul Johnson, author of A History of the Jews and Modern Times


“…a most remarkable book.  Certainly the best one volume overview of Jewish history and identity available today.”

–Sander L. Gilman, author of Jewries at the Frontier and The Self-Hating Jew


“This deeply personal yet analytically incisive book makes the Jewish experience beautifully and comprehensively accessible. Readers who engage this sweeping interpretive history will find it difficult to put down before the last page has been read.”

–Ira Katznelson, Columbia University, author of Desolation and Enlightenment


“Unsettled is an exciting, accessible journey. In its pages we hear the voices of kings and classical sages, but also of the people: women and men whose tales have been largely untold. Konner surveys the Jewish world with the eye of an anthropologist and recounts it all with the pen of a storyteller.”

–Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple of Los Angeles, author of The Healer of Shattered Hearts


“Melvin Konner has the cerebral discipline of a professional academician, mellowed by the heartfelt emotions of a Jew who has passed through the trials of faith. He writes from his heart to explain the mystery of this people in its unique journey through thousands of years.”

–Rabbi Herbert Friedman, President Emeritus, Wexner Heritage Foundation, author of Roots of the Future



From published reviews of Unsettled:

“Melvin Konner is neither a conventional scholar nor a historian—two reasons, perhaps, why his sweeping study of the Jews feels so fresh and alive…Konner’s ability to accommodate ancient memory and modern consciousness, religious identity and secular peoplehood, serves him well…he manages to achieve secular detachment…and something simultaneously transcendent…With “Unsettled” the anthropologist has turned his attention to his own tribe, and the result is nothing less than inspiring.”

–Jonathan Rosen, The New York Times Book Review


“Serious…timely…Unsettled is unmistakably a labor of love, a graceful synthesis of wide and eclectic reading.”

–Scott Schoffman, Washington Post


“Konner’s personal and well-written account is very worthwhile and deserves to find a wide audience…”

–The Jerusalem Post


“[T]his book is a work of grand scope, encompassing the full range of Jewish civilization. [Konner] writes very well and so is able to capture vividly the texture of Jewish life…Even those of us who already know Jewish history will be fascinated by this book.”

–Rabbi David Blumenthal, Conservative Judaism


“A lucid exposition, informed by science and poetry alike… with some new revelation and novel interpretation at every turn. Rich in learning and observation, Unsettled ought to inspire discussion, perhaps even controversy at points. A splendid treatise that will inform readers of whatever background.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


“Konner draws vividly on the lives of ordinary people for this cultural portrait… He has written a celebratory but evenhanded tale, lauding the Jewish people’s strength as he chronicles the adversities they’ve faced.”

–Publishers Weekly


“…draws on archaeological findings, census data, diaries, oral histories, and religious texts to illustrate how the Jews influenced the non-Jewish world and how that world influenced them…highly relevant and unflinching in its approach to controversial and difficult concepts.”

–George Cohen, Booklist


“…his concern for the future of the Jewish people is evident…Recommended for most libraries.”

–Paul Kaplan, Library Journal