The Story of the Jews (TV series)

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The Story of the Jews is a television series, in five parts, presented by British historian Simon Schama. It was broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two in September 2013[1] and in the United States on PBS in March and April 2014.[2]

It is based on Schama's book of the same title,[3] which is being published in three volumes. The first volume[4] was published in September 2013.[5] The second volume, entitled Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492–1900, was published by Bodley Head in October 2017.[6]


In a review for The Daily Telegraph, Neil Midgley described the first episode as a "resounding success", saying: "Schama told the story efficiently and evocatively – and deftly picked out stories that would illustrate his overarching thesis about how Judaism managed to survive...In Schama’s view, to be a Jew is to be verbal...By the end of this first episode, Schama had given the title of his programme an intriguing double meaning. Over its four remaining parts, The Story of the Jews promises to be not only a chronological history, but also a common narrative of what unifies and fortifies Jewish people".[7]

For The Guardian, Arifa Akbar said: "Simon Schama’s story was as much an investigation into identity as it was the beginning of a difficult history".[8]

Writing in The Observer, Andrew Anthony called it "an astonishing achievement, a TV landmark".[9]

David Hinckley, for the New York Daily News, said: "Schama doesn’t downplay the persecution and martyrdom of Jews throughout history. Neither does he let this interfere with his clear mission of portraying Jewish history as a tale of triumph and celebration".[10]

Robert Lloyd, TV critic for the Los Angeles Times, said that Schama "has produced a series that is at once informative, entertaining, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and, in its final episode, in which he confronts the paradoxes of modern Israel, more than a little maddening. Like the religion and the culture that surrounds it, each of which loves an argument, it is inconclusive and open to discussion".[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Story of the Jews". BBC. 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  2. ^ "The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama". PBS. 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Simon Schama Jewish history book up for literary prize". BBC News. 6 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  4. ^ Schama, Simon: The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000BCE – 1492CE (2013), Bodley Head, ISBN 978-1847921321
  5. ^ Frazer, Jenni (28 August 2013). "Making a history of UK Jews for the BBC was so daunting, reveals Simon Schama". The Jewish Chronicle. London. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  6. ^ Frazer, Jenni (3 October 2017). "Simon Schama: Speaking for the dead". the Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  7. ^ Midgley, Neil (2 September 2013). "The Story of the Jews, BBC Two, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  8. ^ Akbar, Arifa (1 September 2013). "The Weekend's Viewing: Simon Schama's story was as much an investigation into identity as it was the beginning of a difficult history". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  9. ^ Anthony, Andrew (28 September 2013). "Simon Schama: a man always making history". The Observer. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  10. ^ Hinckley, David (24 March 2014). "'Story of the Jews,' TV review". New York Daily News. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  11. ^ Lloyd, Robert. "Review: 'Story of the Jews' is also story of writer Simon Schama". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 June 2014.