Genius & Anxiety (Hardcover)

How Jews Changed the World, 1847-1947

By Norman Lebrecht

Scribner, 9781982134228, 464pp.

Publication Date: December 3, 2019

Other Editions of This Title:
Compact Disc (12/3/2019)
Hardcover (1/14/2020)

List Price: 30.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A unique chronicle of the years 1847-1947, the century when the Jewish people changed the world—and it changed them.

In a hundred-year period, a handful of men and women changed the way we see the world. Many of them are well known—Marx, Freud, Proust, Einstein, Kafka. Others have vanished from collective memory despite their enduring importance in our daily lives. Without Karl Landsteiner, for instance, there would be no blood transfusions or major surgery. Without Paul Ehrlich, no chemotherapy. Without Siegfried Marcus, no motor car. Without Rosalind Franklin, genetic science would look very different. Without Fritz Haber, there would not be enough food to sustain life on earth.

What do these visionaries have in common? They all had Jewish origins. They all had a gift for thinking in wholly original, even earth-shattering ways. In 1847 the Jewish people made up less than 0.25% of the world’s population, and yet they saw what others could not. How? Why?

Norman Lebrecht has devoted half of his life to pondering and researching the mindset of the Jewish intellectuals, writers, scientists, and thinkers who turned the tides of history and shaped the world today as we know it. In Genius & Anxiety, Lebrecht begins with the Communist Manifesto in 1847 and ends in 1947, when Israel was founded. This robust, magnificent volume, beautifully designed, is an urgent and necessary celebration of Jewish genius and contribution.

About the Author

Norman Lebrecht is the world’s bestselling author on classical music. His Whitbread Award-winning novel, The Song of Names, is currently being developed into a feature film. Aside from the history of Western music, he has a lifelong passion for the culture and chronicles of the Jewish people and is the author of Genius & Anxiety. He lives in London.

Praise For Genius & Anxiety: How Jews Changed the World, 1847-1947

“Claims to have ‘changed the world’ tend to be exaggerations, but Lebrecht’s subtitle, How Jews Changed the World 1847-1947, seems understated. The world wasn’t changed, it was remade… [Narrated] by a sprightly raconteur, with anecdotes and jokes, digressions and embellishments. Lebrecht piles them high in a ziggurat of enthusiasm for those ‘who changed the way we see the world.’” —The Times (UK)

“An absorbing, well-told story of Jewish achievement that is a pleasure to read…. Written with passion and authority, this book shows how these great minds always took a different point of view—and changed how we see the world.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Urgent and moving history.” —The Spectator (UK)