Contents[ edit ] Koestler advances the thesis that Ashkenazi Jews are not descended from the historical Israelites of antiquity, but from Khazars , a Turkic people originating in and populating an empire north of and between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. In the last chapter I have tried to show that the evidence from anthropology concurs with history in refuting the popular belief in a Jewish race descended from the biblical tribe. Hebrew readers had no access to the book itself for many years, learning about it only through the venomous denunciations". Nothing could be more stimulating than the skill, elegance and erudition with which he marshals his facts and develops his theories. Beverley writes "When The Thirteenth Tribe was released, the academic critique of its research was prompt, public, and generally negative",  and Evan Goldstein states that it was "savaged by critics".
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Life[ edit ] [Koestler] began his education in the twilight of the Austro-Hungarian Empire , at an experimental kindergarten in Budapest. His mother was briefly a patient of Sigmund Freud. In interwar Vienna he wound up as the personal secretary of Vladimir Jabotinsky , one of the early leaders of the Zionist movement. Fighting in the Spanish Civil War , he met W. Afraid of being caught by the Gestapo while fleeing France, he borrowed suicide pills from Walter Benjamin. He took them several weeks later when it seemed he would be unable to get out of Lisbon, but he did not die.
In the s he was still giving lectures that impressed, among others, the young Salman Rushdie. He was an only child.
His father Henrik Koestler had been born on 18 August in the town of Miskolc in northeastern Hungary. Henrik left school at age 16 and took a job as an errand boy with a firm of drapers. He taught himself English, German and French, and eventually became a partner in the firm. He then set up his own business importing textiles into Hungary. Among her ancestors was Jonas Mischel Loeb Jeitteles , a prominent 18th-century physician and essayist, whose son Juda Jeitteles became a well-known poet.
Beethoven set some of his poems to music. Faced with financial difficulties, her father abandoned his wife and daughter, and emigrated to the United States. Although Koestler "liked later to claim his family had flared up from nothing into sudden wealth and then vanished just as fast into exile or the gas chambers Arthur, their only child, was born on 5 September The Koestlers lived in spacious, well-furnished, rented apartments in various predominantly Jewish districts of Budapest.
Facing destitution, the family moved temporarily to a boarding house in Vienna. When the war ended the family returned to Budapest. Later the Koestlers witnessed the temporary occupation of Budapest by the Romanian Army and then the White Terror under the right-wing regime of Admiral Horthy. In the family returned to Vienna, where Henrik set up a successful new import business. In September Arthur enrolled in the Vienna Polytechnic University to study engineering, joining a Zionist duelling student fraternity.
In March he wrote a letter to his parents telling them that he was going to Palestine for a year to work as an assistant engineer in a factory, for the purpose of gaining experience that would help him find a job in Austria. On 1 April he left Vienna for Palestine. Frequently penniless and starving, he often depended on friends and acquaintances for survival. Later that year, through a friend, Koestler obtained the position of Middle East correspondent for the prestigious Berlin-based Ullstein-Verlag group of newspapers.
He returned to Jerusalem, where for the next two years he produced detailed political essays, as well as some lighter reportage, for his principal employer and for other newspapers. He travelled extensively, interviewed heads of state, kings, presidents and prime ministers,  and greatly enhanced his reputation as a journalist.
In June , while on leave in Berlin, Koestler successfully lobbied at Ullstein for a transfer away from Palestine. In , he was called to Berlin and appointed science editor of the Vossische Zeitung and science adviser to the Ullstein newspaper empire. Koestler was the only journalist on board: his live wireless broadcasts, and subsequent articles and lecture tours throughout Europe, brought him further kudos. This led Koestler to the conclusion that Liberals and moderate Democrats could not stand against the rising Nazi tide and that the Communists were the only real counter-force.
Only the German version, heavily censored, was published in an edition for German-speaking Soviet citizens. In Koestler travelled in Turkmenistan and Central Asia.
In Koestler married Dorothy Ascher, a fellow Communist activist they separated amicably in Koestler thus became one of the few authors to have been sentenced to death, an experience he wrote about in Dialogue with Death. As he noted in his autobiography, his separated wife Dorothy Ascher had greatly contributed to saving his life by very intensive months-long lobbying in Britain.
Koestler then returned to France, where he agreed to write a sex encyclopedia to support himself. Costler, A. Willy, and Others". Later that year he resigned from the Communist Party and started work on a new novel that in was published in London under the title Darkness at Noon.
They lived together in Paris, and she translated the manuscript of Darkness at Noon from German into English in early She smuggled it out of France when they left ahead of the German occupation and arranged for its publication after reaching London that year. He attempted to turn himself in to the authorities as a foreign national several times and was finally arrested on 2 October The French government first detained Koestler at Stade Roland Garros until he was moved to Le Vernet Internment Camp among other "undesirable aliens", most of them refugees.
Shortly before the German invasion of France Koestler joined the French Foreign Legion in order to get out of the country. He deserted in North Africa and tried to get back to England. He attempted suicide , but survived. Arriving in the UK without an entry permit, Koestler was imprisoned pending examination of his case. Immediately after Koestler was released he volunteered for Army service. While awaiting his call-up papers, between January and March , he wrote Scum of the Earth, the first book he wrote in English.
For the next twelve months he served in the Pioneer Corps. He also wrote several essays, which were subsequently collected and published in The Yogi and the Commissar.
Daphne Hardy, who had been doing war work in Oxford, joined Koestler in London in , but they parted company a few months later.
There he had a clandestine meeting with Menachem Begin , the head of the Irgun paramilitary organisation, who was wanted by the British and had a pound bounty on his head.
Koestler tried to persuade him to abandon militant attacks and accept a two-state solution for Palestine, but failed.
When he returned to England Mamaine Paget, whom he had started to see before going out to Palestine, was waiting for him. Over the next three years Koestler would become a close friend of George Orwell.
They arrived in Israel on 4 June and stayed there until October. News that his long-pending application for British nationality had been granted reached him in France in late December and early in the he returned to London to swear the oath of allegiance to the British Crown. The latter book received poor reviews in both the U. His other book published in was Insight and Outlook.
This too received lukewarm reviews. In July Koestler began work on Arrow in the Blue , the first volume of his autobiography, and hired a new part-time secretary, Cynthia Jefferies, who eventually became his third wife. In the autumn he started work on The Age of Longing, on which he continued to work until mid Koestler had reached agreement with his first wife, Dorothy, on an amicable divorce, and their marriage was dissolved on 15 December In the autumn he went to the United States on a lecture tour, during which he lobbied for permanent resident status in the U.
At the end of October, on impulse, he bought Island Farm being a small island with a house on it on the Delaware River near New Hope, Pennsylvania , with the intention of living there at least for part of each year. Koestler donated all his royalties from the play to a fund he had set up to help struggling authors, the Fund for Intellectual Freedom FIF.
Senate to grant Koestler permanent residence in the U. In it he examined the political landscape of post-war Europe and the problems facing the continent.
In August his marriage to Mamaine collapsed. They separated, but remained close until her sudden and unexpected death in June Koestler now decided to make his permanent home in Britain. The first two volumes of his autobiography, Arrow in the Blue, which covers his life up to December when he joined the German Communist Party, and The Invisible Writing , which covers the years to , were published in and , respectively. A collection of essays, The Trail of the Dinosaur and Other Essays , on the perils he saw facing western civilisation, was published in On 13 April Janine Graetz, with whom Koestler had an on-off relationship over a period of years, gave birth to his daughter Cristina.
Early in he arranged for Cynthia to have an illegal abortion. In July he started work on Reflections on Hanging. Later life, —[ edit ] Although Koestler resumed work on a biography of Kepler in , it was not published until , and in the interim it acquired the title The Sleepwalkers. Copernicus and Galileo were added to Kepler as the major subjects of the book. Later in , as a consequence of the Hungarian Uprising , Koestler became busy organising anti-Soviet meetings and protests. In June Koestler gave a lecture at a symposium in Alpbach , Austria, and fell in love with the village.
He bought land there, had a house built, and for the next twelve years used it as a place for summer vacations and for organising symposia. In May he had a hernia operation. The resulting book was The Lotus and the Robot. In early , on his way back from a conference in San Francisco, Koestler interrupted his journey at the University of Michigan , Ann Arbor , where some experimental research was going on with hallucinogens.
He tried psilocybin and had a "bad trip". Later, when he arrived at Harvard to see Timothy Leary , he experimented with more drugs, but was not enthusiastic about that experience either. In , along with his agent, A D Peters and the editor of The Observer, David Astor, Koestler set up a scheme to encourage prison inmates to engage in arts activities and to reward their efforts. Koestler Arts supports over 7, entrants from UK prisons each year and awards prizes in fifty different artforms.
In November he undertook a lecture tour of various universities in California. In he married Cynthia in New York,  and moved to California, where he participated in a series of seminars at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. Koestler spent most of and the early months of working on The Ghost in the Machine. In his article "Return Trip to Nirvana", published in in the Sunday Telegraph , Koestler wrote about the drug culture and his own experiences with hallucinogens.
In April Koestler was awarded the Sonning Prize "for [his] outstanding contribution to European culture". In the later part of November the Koestlers flew to Australia for a number of television appearances and press interviews. The trembling of his hand made writing progressively more difficult.
The thirteenth tribe: the Khazar empire and its heritage
Koestler shows through extensive research, how a trading empire was set up by a tribe we know as the Khazars between the expanding power blocs of Christianity and Islam; how the people were converted to Judaism by their king as a way of standing apart from both, and how the people and their wealth were dispersed through the countries of Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Khazar Empire. It is a controversial history; because it challenges both the assumptions of Nazi philosophy and Zionism that the European Jews were racially different from the populations of the countries in which they later settled. Koestler, as a Hungarian Jew himself, was particularly interested in the major part the Khazars played in the founding of the Hungarian nation; a fact which later led to the tragedy of , when the Nazis exterminated over half-a -million Hungarian Jews, who were virtually indistinguishable from their Christian neighbours. Though he studied science and psychology in Vienna, at the age of twenty he became a foreign correspondent and worked for various European newspapers in the Middle East, Paris, Berlin, Russia and Spain. During the Spanish Civil War, which he covered from the Republican side, he was captured and imprisoned for several months by the Nationalists, but was exchanged after international protest. In he was interned in a French detention camp.