In the nineteenth century, the largest Jewish community the modern world had known lived in hundreds of towns and shtetls in the territory between the Prussian border of Poland and the Ukrainian coast of the Black Sea. The period had started with the partition of Poland and the absorption of its territories into the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires; it would end with the first large-scale outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence and the imposition in Russia of strong anti-Semitic legislation. In the years between, a traditional society accustomed to an autonomous way of life would be transformed into one much more open to its surrounding cultures, yet much more confident of its own nationalist identity. In The Jews of Eastern Europe, Israel Bartal traces this transformation and finds in it the roots of Jewish modernity. The book represents a remarkable achievement. Bartal presents the broad contours of nineteenth-century East European Jewish history even as he reworks them into a nontraditional narrative. He offers readers basic information about the staple features of the East European Jewish story-including the Hasidic and haskalah movements, the struggle for emancipation in two empires, the shtetl, population growth, urbanization, emigration, the crystallization of orthodox Judaism, and the rise of Jewish nationalism-while at the same time challenging us to think about the significance of those features in unconventional ways David Engel, New York University.