This is the second volume of a history series that tells the story of the Jewish nation from the vantage point of the Jews themselves. This book begins with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. In the eyes of the Roman conqueror and persecutor, that should have spelled the end of the Jewish nation once and for all.
Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai proclaimed to Emperor Vespasian, "Give me Yavneh and its sages!" That became the slogan of survival throughout the ensuing exile. Without a Temple and without sovereignty, Jewry fell back upon the soul of its nationhood, the Torah. The great yeshivos provided the fortress that defended Jewish nationhood in the face of one murderous onslaught after another.
In this volume, we find Romans, Babylonians, Christians, Byzantines and Moslems dominating Israel, simetimes benignly, usually oppressively. But simultaneously, Israel produced the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Geonic responsa, and the institutions of learning and leadership that made the ages reverberate with names like Yavneh, Sura and Pumbedisa.
Here we will meet and come to know the great figures of the Mishnah - such as Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Yehudah the Prince. We will meet the heroic and tragic Bar Kochba. We will meet the authors of the Talmud - such as Rav, Shmuel, Rabbi Yochanan, Rava and Abaye. We will meet the Geonim - such as Saadyah, Sherira and Hai, who maintained the strenth of Israel in crushing exile.
In compiling this important work, Meir Holder of Jerusalem combines scholarship, insight, and flair to produce a book that is as accurate as it is fascinating. It is a must for anyone who wishes to know and take pride in Jewish nationhood.