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The Last Jew


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About the Author

Noah Gordon has had outstanding international success, selling in Germany alone more than eight million copies of his recent trilogy (The Physician, Shaman, and Matters of Choice). The Society of American Historians awarded him the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Shaman as the best historical novel of 1991/1992. He was also voted "Novelist of the Year" by the readers of the Bertelsmann Book Club, and twice, in 1992 and 1995, he won the Silver Basque Prize for Spain's bestselling book. An earlier book, The Rabbi, was on the New York Times Bestseller list for 26 weeks. Noah Gordon lives with his wife in Brookline, Massachusetts.


YA-During the Spanish Inquisition, a Jew had only two choices: flee the country or convert to Catholicism. The Toledano family decides to flee, but before they can leave, their home is burned by a mob, and only 16-year-old Yonah is left in Toledo. Persuaded that his father's death and that of his older brother three years earlier were caused by the same man, the teen flees on the family's burro and begins the life of a wanderer, a fugitive who changes his name and pretends to be converted. He works as a shepherd in the hills, as a deckhand on ships trading along the Spanish coast, and finally as an apprentice to a physician in Saragossa. After the death of his mentor, Yonah takes over the practice and becomes well-known and respected. On a trip north, he stumbles on a remote and beautiful valley settled by conversos like himself. There he falls in love with a young widow and the two return to Saragossa and make a life together, ostensibly Christians, but secretly Jews. Finally confronting the cleric responsible for the murder of his father and brother, the wandering Jew finds peace at last. This exciting tale of 16th-century Spain has a mystery involving a stolen reliquary, a sinister Inquisitor, and a host of colorful characters. Most of all, though, it is the story of a resourceful and courageous young man determined to remain faithful to his religion.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

The impact of the Inquisition and the Catholic Church on the lives of Spanish Jews in the late 15th and early 16th centuries is the subject of this latest novel from Gordon (Matters of Choice). Young Yonah ben Helikes, son of a Toledo silversmith, watches in horror as hundreds of thousands of Jews are given the options of converting to Christianity, leaving Spain, or facing the murderous violence of a population inspired to hatred by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. After his father and younger brother is killed, Yonah wanders through Spain, eluding agents of the Inquisition while trying to keep his Jewish faith intact. He puts his silversmith talents to good use by working at an armory and later gains the knowledge and skill of a physician. As Yonah matures, falls in love, and marries, he gradually puts together the missing pieces of his life and confronts the deaths of his relatives. Gordon is a natural storyteller, and, given the novel's fascinating setting and a more-than-likable hero, this superior historical novel should have a place in all libraries.-Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. For the Book, Seattle

Set in Spain under the Inquisition, this latest big historical novel from Gordon (Shaman; The Rabbi) follows the adventures of young Yonah Helkias as he stays true to his Jewish faith, escapes from misadventures and finds love. In Toledo, in 1489, a precious reliquary of a Christian saint, crafted by Yonah's silversmith father, disappears; Yonah's older brother, who was delivering the relic, is found dead; and compassionate physician Bernardo Espina begins to investigate the theft and murder. Meanwhile, the Inquisition starts to target Jews, including conversos like Espina (Jews by birth who have entered the Catholic church). The bulk of the novel takes place three years later, when the deadline for all Jews to leave Spain has arrived. Yonah, aged 13, joins thousands of his co-religionists headed for Spanish borders and ports, but instead of departing, Yonah remains behind. After witnessing Espina's death in an auto-da-f‚, Yonah leads a fugitive existence as a farmer, a shepherd, a cathedral laborer, a pot repairer, a seaman and, finally, as an apprentice armorer under the demanding master Manuel Fierro. Delivering armor, he returns to Toledo, where he bargains with his family's persecutors to escape a dangerous rendezvous with relic smugglers. Then Yonah's master is fatally double-crossed; after avenging him, Yonah heads to Saragossa, where Fierro's brother trains him to becomeÄlike the heroes of Gordon's The Physician and ShamanÄa doctor. Yonah changes his name to Ramon Callico, marries a woman who knows his secret, but never gives up his desire to restore Espina's honor to his son, the stolen relic to the Church or his own soul to Judaism. Gordon has earned an international audience for his impressively documented historical narratives, his compassion for the trials of ‚migr‚s and his intricate descriptions of Renaissance crafts. Through a crowded landscape of characters and incidents, he illuminates the choices history forces on individualsÄand, not incidentally, creates a grand, informative adventure and a completely engaging, unsentimental portrait of a turbulent time. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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