We Are Coming, Unafraid: The Jewish Legions and the Promised Land in the First World War

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9780742552746: We Are Coming, Unafraid: The Jewish Legions and the Promised Land in the First World War
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This book tells the little-known stories of Jewish soldiers who served in the Jewish Legions during World War I. Three all-Jewish battalions formed in the British army as part of the Allies' Middle East campaign, recruiting soldiers from the United States, Canada, England, and Argentina. Drawing on diaries, memoirs and letters, the book follows their journey at sea through unrestricted submarine w

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Review:

This book is highly recommended. Its approach is novel, and the source materials upon which it is based are original and have not previously been utilized. It gives voice to persons who played a role in a significant process, but who otherwise might be forgotten. In addition to military history buffs, the book will appeal to general readers interested in the emotions and experiences of the 'ordinary' people of yesteryear.--Stuart Cohen, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

This book's innovative, 'bottom-up' approach throws new light on the Jewish experience of World War I, Zionism, and Palestine during the transition from Ottoman to British rule. The book's presentation of extended passages from the life-writing of ordinary Jews, accompanied by historical explanation and analysis, makes the book an important resource for the teaching of modern Jewish social history.--Derek Penslar, University of Toronto

We Are Coming, Unafraid provides a much needed alternative insight into the period. The memoirists' comments about their own motivation for joining the Legions, their views of the contemporary politics and of the people of the time are uniquely enlightening.--Glenda Abramson, University of Oxford

Keren (War Memory and Popular Culture) and Keren assemble letters and journal entries of Jewish men who fought with the British during World War I, recruited from England and abroad and largely forced into service, detailing their hopes, fears, and the dreadful privation they faced. . . . Through the intimate notes of these men, readers will share a journey wrought with fear, hope, and pride.--Publishers Weekly

As much as we know of Jewish history, there is still more to tell, still more stories to hear or read, still more lessons to be learned. This wonderful book tells the story of a little known part of Jewish history--the three exclusively all-Jewish legions that were recruited and trained and fought during World War I. The units were formed by the British Army. The Jewish fighters were recruited from the United States, Canada, and England. The volunteers came from all walks of life, rich and poor, educated and street smart, those with experience and those without. These Jewish men fought together in the Middle East, they fought for Palestine. Some moved on after the War and became founders of the State of Israel. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, was a member of a Jewish legion. Yitzchak Ben Zvi, Israel's second president, fought in the Jewish legions. Almost all the research information and the historical content gathered in We Are Coming Unafraid comes from letters, diaries, and memoirs. Authors Michael Keren and Shlomit Keren very liberally excerpt and quote from these sources. The rich first hand descriptions provide insight and access to long-ago events, enabling readers to travel back in time, get the feel of the trenches and grasp the motivations of these Jewish soldiers and heroes.--Jewish Book World

The development of a Jewish consciousness in a campaign resulting in the conquest of the Promised Land and not as a reaction to antisemitism is the primary focus of Michael and Shlomit Keren. Relying on a handful of memoirs, diaries, and letters, the authors examine the various phases of the Jewish Legion's journey to the Promised Land.--Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Jewish Studies

The book will force readers of all levels to consider how best to conceptualize the experiences of the Jewish Legions.--World History Connected

About the Author:

Michael Keren is professor of political science and communication and culture at the University of Calgary. He is the author of many scholarly books, including The Pen and the Sword. Shlomit Keren is associate professor of history and director of Israel Studies at the University of Calgary.

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