Download PDF by John Reader: Africa: A Biography of the Continent

By John Reader

Drawing on decades of African adventure, John Reader has written a publication of startling grandeur and scope that recreates the nice landscape of African heritage, from the primeval cataclysms that shaped the continent to the political upheavals dealing with a lot of the continent this day. Reader tells the extreme tale of humankind's model to the ferocious stumbling blocks of woodland, river and wilderness, and to the specter of debilitating parasites, micro organism and viruses unrivaled somewhere else on the earth. He additionally exhibits how the world's richest collection of animals and crops has helped - or hindered - human development in Africa.

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The use of both motival conventions in the Tosafist laments creates a startling combination of nuanced polemic and vulgarity, suggesting that the rabbis deemed intellectual argument insufficient on its own. Where subtle reasoning might fail, then, they sought to inculcate visceral revulsion for the sacred rites and symbols of Christianity. The Jewish martyrological literature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries stresses Jewish solidarity and cohesion, expressed eloquently in the images of individuals and communities who die rather than forfeit their faith.

The chief publication dates of these works cluster in the late nineteenth century and then again in the 1930s– 1940s. Newer collections of medieval liturgical verse (such as Goldschmidt and Fraenkel’s edition of penitential hymns) redress this emphasis. So, too, the manuscripts, many of them miscellanies that mix martyrological and penitential texts with grammatical, liturgical, poetic, and legal matter, confirm the fullness of experience lived by medieval Jews even in the shadow of persecution.

But there is equally evidence that advocating suicide or slaughter was a policy that troubled the rabbis, as well it might. For the rabbis (and hence for the literature), to have endorsed martyrdom as the solution to conversionary pressure 24 CHAPTER 1 would have been inconsistent with the ongoing, deliberative steps both advocated for the survival of the living. 18 An example from our own time may be helpful. The image of “the Israeli” among American Jews from the late 1960s through the early 1980s advertised another kind of idealized Jew, one liberated from the complex loyalties, dependencies, and frailties of diaspora life.

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Africa: A Biography of the Continent by John Reader


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