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Look Inside Jews in the Russian Army, 1827–1917

Jews in the Russian Army, 1827–1917
Drafted into Modernity

$47.99 (C)

  • Date Published: July 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107682238

$ 47.99 (C)
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About the Authors
  • This is the first study of the military experience of some one to one-and-a-half million Jews who served in the Russian Army between 1827, the onset of personal conscription of Jews in Russia, and 1917, the demise of the tsarist regime. The conscription integrated Jews into the state transforming the repressed Jewish victims of the draft into modern imperial Russian Jews. The book contextualizes the reasons underlying the decision to draft Jews, the communal responses to the draft, the missionary initiatives directed toward Jews in the army, alleged Jewish draft evasion and Jewish military performance, and the strategies Jews used to endure military service. It also explores the growing antisemitism of the upper echelons of the military toward the Jews on the eve of World War I and the rise of Russian-Jewish loyalty and patriotism.

    • Revisionist view of previous understanding of Jews in the Russian army, stressing the success of Jews who were conscripted
    • Presents an important and hitherto ignored story about conscripted Jews, giving voice to often-ignored historical figures
    • A strong story of Jewish survival, for those interested in Jewish identity as well as history
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    “A work of first-rate scholarship, Petrovsky-Shtern's important new book splendidly fuses military history with the study of empire to provide fascinating insights into the complicated Russian-Jewish encounter.” - David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Brock University

    "Jews in the Russian Army is a bold, original, and provocative work that challenges deep-seated assumptions about Russian-Jewish history. By presenting the military as a transformative force no less significant than education, religious reform or revolutionary politics, Petrovsky-Shtern has established a framework for the study of Jewish modernity that extends beyond East Europe to include modern Jewish history as a whole." -Derek J. Penslar, University of Toronto, Author of Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe

    "This impressively researched book provides an illuminating analysis at the intersection of Jewish studies and Russian military history. Recommended." -Choice

    "Petrovsky-Shtern concludes that one of the legacies of nineteenth-century Jewish conscription was the creation of a modern Jewish military identity, and that founders of the Israeli Defense Forces were veterans of the Imperial Russian Army .... This conclusion is one of several strikingly original findings of a book that successfully reframes the legacy of nearly a century of Jewish service in the tsar’s army." -Eric Lohr, American Historical Review

    "...Petrovsky-Shtern’s book represents a groundbreaking work and an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the Russian military, larger processes of imperial modernization, and modern Jewish history within a broader European context." -Gregory Vitarbo, European History Quarterly

    "Jews in the Russian Army fuses together Jewish, military, and imperial history within the context of the Romanov’s wielding supreme autocratic authority. The research is prodigious, the book is clearly written, and the conclusions are finely nuanced, which opens new paths of consideration for our understanding of late imperial history." -Russian Review

    "...this work is an important contribution to a new kind of military history, less interested in the shape of tank treads and howitzer calibers and more concerned with the impact the military has on society and politics as a whole." -THE JOURNAL OF POWER INSTITUTIONS IN POST-SOVIET SOCIETIES

    "...impressive book." -Benjamin Nathans, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

    "As Petrovsky-Shtern points out, all this was part and parcel of the process of making both entities–the Jews and empire–modern. So, did your bubbe tell you the story about the wicked Russians press-ganging your poor great grandfather Moishe and then forcibly converted him to Christianity? Read this book and find out what really happened." -Marshall Poe, New Books in History

    "...rich and rewarding comparative analysis of military service." -Journal of Modern History

    "The author, however, casts a different light on this aspect of Russian-Jewish history, stressing the government’s aim in conscripting Jews. Like the most enlightened Western European regimes of the time, the Russian government from the early nineteenth century sought to remould its shtetl-minded Jewish soldiers into physically fit, loyal, Russian-speaking subjects." -Journal of Military History

    "...a valuable and worthwhile contribution to scholarship on Jewish history as well as Russian history; in fact, it is really an outstanding example of how good scholarship should work." -Timothy C. Dowling, Canadian Journal of History

    "...impressive..." -Kenneth B. Moss, The Journal of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107682238
    • length: 326 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The empire reforms. The community response
    2. Militarizing the Jew. Judaizing the military
    3. 'Let the children come to me': Jewish minors in the Cantonist battalions
    4. Universal draft and the singular Jews
    5. The Russian army's Jewish question
    6. The revolutionary draft
    7. Banished from modernity.

  • Author

    Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, Northwestern University, Illinois
    Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern teaches early modern, modern and east European Jewish history and culture at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Anti-Imperial Choice: The Making and Unmaking of the Ukrainian Jew (2009). He has also published about forty scholarly essays in journals such as East European Jewish Affairs, Jewish Social History, the Journal of Jewish History, Jewish Quarterly Review, AJS Review, POLIN, KRITIKA, Ab Imperio, and The Ukrainian Quarterly. He has been a Fellow at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, a Rothschild Fellow in Jerusalem, a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, a Sensibar Visiting Professor at Spertus College in Chicago, a Visiting Scholar at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and a recipient of multiple fellowships and grants, including the National Endowment for Humanities.

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