Melting point


In the early 1900s, 10,000 persecuted Jews left Europe to forge a new life. They went not to Israel, as so often dreamed, but to Texas, USA. Using a unique blend of diaries, letters, memoirs, newspapers and interviews, ‘Melting Point’ is the story of Rachel Cockerell’s great-grandfather, David Jochelmann, who was instrumental in the Texas movement, and the scattered lives of his three children: one of whom went to New York, one to London, and one to Jerusalem. The book opens at the dawn of the twentieth century, with the charismatic Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl trying and failing to found a Jewish state. Against a backdrop of increasingly violent, antisemitic pogroms in Czarist Russia and overcrowding in New York, numerous options for a new Jewish homeland from Uganda to Australia were mooted but only one, Galveston in Texas, was attempted.

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SKU: 9781035408917 Category: Tag:


A truly radical book; radical in subject, radical in form. For the most tragic reasons, it could not feel more immediate; and yet it’s a fluid, fast-paced, hugely enjoyable and engaging read.’ – Andrew Marr

Meticulously researched, elegantly constructed, unforgettable.’ – Jonathan Freedland

On June 7th 1907, a ship packed with Russian Jews sets sail into the Atlantic. It is heading not to Jerusalem or New York, as many on board have dreamt, but to Texas. The man who persuades the passengers to go is David Jochelmann, Rachel Cockerell’s great-grandfather. It marks the beginning of the Galveston Movement, a forgotten moment in history when 10,000 Jews fled to Texas in the lead-up to WWI.

The charismatic leader of the movement is Jochelmann’s closest friend, Israel Zangwill, whose beloved novels have made him a household name across Europe and America. As Russia becomes infected by anti-Semitic violence, and Theodor Herzl tries and fails to create a Jewish state, Zangwill embarks on a desperate search across the continents for a temporary homeland: from Australia to Canada, Angola to Antarctica. He reluctantly settles on Galveston, Texas. He fears the Jewish people will be absorbed into the great American melting pot, but there is no other hope.

The story is told in a highly inventive format: there is no 21st-century narration. Instead the author weaves together a vivid and colourful account from an extraordinary array of sources – letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper articles and interviews. Melting Point follows Zangwill and the Jochelmann family through two world wars, to London, New York and Jerusalem – as their lives intertwine with some of the most significant figures of the twentieth century, and each chooses whether to cling to their history, or brush it off like dust and melt into their new surroundings. It is a story that asks questions of belonging, identity, and what can be salvaged from the past.

Additional information

Weight 0.64 kg
Dimensions 23.6 × 15.4 × 4 cm