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Look Inside Jews in the Russian Army, 1827–1917

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


  • Date Published: December 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521515733

£ 72.00

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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
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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, and author of Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe

    '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

    'In many ways Jews in the Russian Army represents a welcome revision to the traditional interpretation of Jewish military service in the Russian army. Petrovsky-Shtern demonstrates convincingly that the Russian military was not united as an institution in its revulsion toward the Jews.' Revolutionary Russia

    'Jews in the Russian Army draws on an immense range of published and unpublished sources in multiple languages.' The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521515733
    • length: 326 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • 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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