Empire Jews: Jewish Nationalism and Acculturation in 19th- and Early 20th-Century Russia

Brian Horowitz

In this unique book Brian Horowitz, Sizeler Family Chair Professor at Tulane University, articulates what is hidden in plain view: namely that many Jews in late-tsarist Russia were in love with its culture. Although they despised its government, large numbers of Jews eagerly joined Russian culture as members of the Russian cultural elite and participants in a distinct Russian-Jewish intelligentsia. Examining a broad range of figures and ideas at the heart of Jewish life during the revolutionary era at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, Brian Horowitz casts radically new portraits of such central intellectuals as Shimon Ansky, Simon Dubnov, Vladimir Jabotin–sky, Lev Shestov, Nikolai Berdyaev, and Mikhail Gershenzon, while reviv¬¬¬ing for the reader such forgotten heroes as Shimon Frug, Lev Levanda, Leib Jaffe, and Mikhail Morgulis. In the book Horowitz treats a broad panorama of subjects, encompassing legal studies, Jewish historio¬graphy, Jewish literature, Russian-Jewish relations, liberal politics, and Zionism.


This book “will revive interest in some of the most complex figures of Russian Jewish intellectual history, many of whom have been widely forgotten. Russian Jewish intellectual history has largely concentrated on those who contributed to the two major utopian projects of the 20th century: Zionism and Socialism. In many ways, Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Jabotinsky have become metonyms for all Russian Jewish intellectual history. […] The essays here demonstrate clearly the close intersection between key Jewish thinkers and Russian elite culture of the late 19th and early 20th century, thereby challenging the conventional impression of Jewish isolation within the Russian Empire.” Jeffrey Veidlinger, Indiana University

This book is volume 2 of the series New Approaches to Russian and East European Jewish Culture.

Book Reviews

Review in Jahrbucher für Geschichte Osteuropas, Volume 59, no. 3, 2011 (via Recensio.net, Review platform for European History)