About IN THE SHADOW OF ZION
IN THE SHADOW OF ZION brings to life the amazing true stories of six exotic visions of a Jewish national home outside the biblical land of Israel. Israel’s successful establishment has long obscured the fact that eminent Jewish figures, including Zionism’s prophet, Theodor Herzl, seriously considered settling enclaves beyond the Middle East. Christians and Jews, authors and adventurers, politicians and playwrights, and rabbis and revolutionaries all worked to carve out autonomous Jewish territories across the globe in remote and often hostile locations, including Angola, Kenya, Madagascar, Suriname and Tasmania. The would-be founding fathers of these imaginary Zions dispatched scientific expeditions to these far-flung regions and filed reports on the dream states they planned to create. But only Israel emerged from dream to reality.
IN THE SHADOW OF ZION explores this remarkable shadow history of Jewish nationalism, making this an important book for understanding the trajectory of Zionism and the contemporary Middle East. A gripping narrative drawn from the author's own travels and from his meticulous research in archives the world over, IN THE SHADOW OF ZION recovers the mostly forgotten stories of these promised lands and of the fascinating figures who championed them. These individuals included the man credited with reviving Hebrew as a spoken language, a lovelorn Christian adventurer, two famed African explorers, a Yiddish-speaking member of Lenin's first Soviet cabinet, and a cast of author-activists hailing from America, England, and Germany.
Provocative, thoroughly researched, and written to appeal to a broad audience, IN THE SHADOW OF ZION offers a timely perspective on Jewish power and powerlessness.
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Early Reviews of IN THE SHADOW OF ZION
“In this path-breaking study Adam Rovner takes us on a riveting journey through a boundless fantasy. Masterfully written, this little known chapter in modern Jewish history is also painfully thought provoking, for had there been a viable Jewish homeland anywhere on earth prior to the Second World War, the Holocaust may not have happened.” —Tom Segev, author of One Palestine, Complete
“Equipped with verve and an eye for the absurd detail, Adam Rovner set out across continents and into archives to recover the story of a time when desperation, imagination, and a sheer unwillingness to surrender to reality led some Jews to consider alternate Zions in unlikely corners of the globe. The result is a colorful and offbeat contribution to our understanding of modern Jewish history and of the fevered milieu out of which the state of Israel was born.” —Matti Friedman, author of The Aleppo Codex, Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature
“Through his travel and his scholarship, Adam Rovner recovers the search for a Jewish homeland in upstate New York, in Great Britain’s East African Protectorate (now Kenya), in Angola, on the island of Madagascar and on portions of Australia, and in Dutch Guiana (now Suriname). A fascinating physical and intellectual geography before the establishment of Israel.” —Susan Gubar, author of Poetry After Auschwitz, Indiana University
“From an island in the Niagara River to the depths of Africa, In the Shadow of Zion shows that the contemporary state of Israel was just one of many modern attempts to solve the ‘Jewish problem’ through land. This compelling and beautifully written book reveals a history of alternative Zions rendered invisible today by national and imperial ambitions that conspired against them. A masterpiece about the true origins of Zionism and the ‘paths not taken,’ this volume is a must read for anyone interested in global Jewish history or in the history of Israel." —David Shneer, author of Through Soviet Jewish Eyes, University of Colorado-Boulder
ABOUT DR. ADAM ROVNER
Dr. Adam Rovner is Associate Professor of English and Jewish Literature at the University of Denver. His articles, essays, translations and interviews have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and general interest publications. Rovner's short documentary on Jewish territorialism, No Land Without Heaven, has been screened at exhibitions in New York, Paris, and Tel Aviv.