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Description - God's Peoples by Donald Harman Akenson

Chosen as one of Library Journal's Best Books of 1992 "Superb scholarship and compelling writing."--Library Journal "Splendidly illuminating and enthrallingly readable."--Conor Cruise O'Brien Asserting that the dominant peoples of South Africa, Northern Ireland, and Israel have based their cultural identity on a belief in a covenant with an all-powerful God, Akenson vividly characterizes the effects of this conviction on each nation's history.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780801427558
ISBN-10: 080142755X
Format: Hardback
(229mm x 152mm x 32mm)
Pages: 404
Imprint: Cornell University Press
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publish Date: 15-Sep-1992
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - God's Peoples by Donald Harman Akenson

Book Reviews - God's Peoples by Donald Harman Akenson

US Kirkus Review » Bold, often brilliant, but perhaps strained attempt by Akenson (History/Queen's Univ.) to trace how ancient Hebrew scriptures have "formed the fundamental pattern of mind of the three societies" of South Africa, Israel, and Northern Ireland. Akenson begins by analyzing the Old Testament: "The Bible is sulphurous in spots, not nice," he says, with Yahweh, a "jealous God," purging 120,000 men of the House of Judah on one occasion, making a bargain with Jephthah to kill his own daughter on another. Akenson believes that the Old Testament laid great emphasis on social law, vengeance, a warlike deity, the value of particular lands, the significance of the Exodus, and group purity - each of which he finds reflected in the three societies he examines. The most obvious case is South Africa, where the belief in a chosen people, in the significance of an exodus into an untamed country, and in biological and cultural purity is particularly clear. Akenson's most strained analogy is that of Ulster, where he sees rigid thinking, sharp dichotomies, a prophetic mode of utterance, and territorial segregation at work. And his most controversial analysis is likely to be of Israel: "The Israelis systematically deprived the Palestinian Arabs of their lands, segregated their places of residence, and developed a dual economy and severe restrictions on the civil liberties and civil rights of the indigenous population." Eight-six percent of Palestinian villages, he says, have disappeared within the past 20 years; military government has been used for "security" reasons to deny civil fights; and there are strict "pass" and travel restrictions. It's debatable whether Akenson's concept of resurgent Old Testament behavior is more theory than reality - his idea that Israel will move ever closer to the covenanting pattern seems confounded by the recent elections - but the author's sweep and grasp are impressive. (Kirkus Reviews)


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