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Mendoza the Jew

Boxing, Manliness, and Nationalism, A Graphic History

Ronald Schechter and Illustrated by Liz Clarke

Publication Date - 19 November 2013

ISBN: 9780199334094

240 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock

Examines issues of manliness, sport, and nationalism in late eighteenth-century Britain, and in doing so, reveals the processes by which history is made


Inspired by the resounding success of Abina and the Important Men (OUP, 2011), Mendoza the Jew combines a graphic history with primary documentation and contextual information to explore issues of nationalism, identity, culture, and historical methodology through the life story of Daniel Mendoza. Mendoza was a poor Sephardic Jew from East London who became the boxing champion of Britain in 1789. As a Jew with limited means and a foreign-sounding name, Mendoza was an unlikely symbol of what many Britons considered to be their very own "national" sport. Whereas their adversaries across the Channel reputedly settled private quarrels by dueling with swords or pistols--leaving widows and orphans in their wake--the British (according to supporters of boxing) tended to settle their disputes with their fists.

Mendoza the Jew provides an exciting and lively alternative to conventional lessons on nationalism. Rather than studying learned treatises and political speeches, students can read a graphic history about an eighteenth-century British boxer that demonstrates how ideas and emotions regarding the "nation" permeated the practices of everyday life. Mendoza's story reveals the ambivalent attitudes of British society toward its minorities, who were allowed (sometimes grudgingly) to participate in national life by braving pain and injury in athletic contests, but whose social mobility was limited and precarious.

About the Author(s)

Ronald Schechter is Associate Professor of History at the College of William and Mary. His book Obstinate Hebrews: Representations of Jews in France, 1715-1815 (2003) won awards from the American Historical Association and the Society for French Historical Studies. Schechter is also the editor of The French Revolution: The Essential Readings (2001) and the translator/editor of Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing with Related Documents (2004).

Liz Clarke is a professional artist and illustrator based in Cape Town, South Africa.


"As a class- or seminar-room text that can offer students an inspiring introduction to the art and craft of history and act as a demystifier of the discipline, this volumeâs worth is inestimable. Yet, the authorâs frank discussions of the frustrations, complications, revelations, and collaborations inherent in the crafting of this work of history are also likely to resonate with historians of all levels of experience." -- David Dee, Jewish Historical Studies

"Engagingly written and beautifully illustrated, Mendoza the Jew packs a powerful punch. It will engage students while teaching them much about eighteenth-century British society. Graphic history is here to stay."--Mark Kishlansky, Harvard University

"This is an innovative, imaginative, and exciting book about a fascinating, but largely forgotten figure: the eighteenth-century Jewish boxer Daniel Mendoza. Students and general readers alike will find in it a splendid introduction to the history of eighteenth-century Britain, the history of the Jews in Britain, the history of sport culture, and also to the ways that historians work. Scholars will find in it a superb document collection, accompanied by a cogent, concise analysis of Mendoza's life and career. And everyone will find in it a marvelously entertaining and brilliantly drawn story."--David A. Bell, Princeton University

"The English boxer Daniel Mendoza's triumphs and setbacks are grippingly described by Ronald Schechter and boldly illustrated by Liz Clarke. Readers will be drawn in by the taut narrative, which is supported by thoughtful analysis of pugilism, the Jewish community, and national identity during the age of the French Revolution. The book's generous selection of primary sources lets readers investigate the materials with which Schechter has built his narrative. The accompanying essays (and suggested assignments) invite students to think critically about how historians build their historical accounts. Mendoza the Jew will be welcomed by students, professors, and readers alike."--Stuart Semmel, Yale University

"This vivid portrayal of Daniel Mendoza's life is full of emotion and history. It instructs us in sports, Jewish, gender, and political history even as it captures the reader's interest through engaging dialogue and graphics. The author's discussion of his method and his offering of primary documents ensures the place of Mendoza's story in the classroom."--Bonnie Smith, Rutgers University

"This is an engaging yet sophisticated exploration of issues of ethnicity, nationalism, and manliness in modern Europe through the story of Britain's first minority sports star. Mendoza has it all--beautiful illustrations, a compelling narrative, a diverse selection of gripping documents, and great writing questions."--Rafe Blaufarb, Florida State University

"Mendoza the Jew is an exciting and innovative way of introducing students to history that prompts them to think historically."--Lynn Hunt, University of California, Los Angeles

Table of Contents

    Part I: The graphic history

    Chapter 1: The Making of a Boxer
    Chapter 2: Boxing Lessons
    Chapter 3: Odiham
    Chapter 4: Stilton
    Chapter 5: Doncaster
    Chapter 6: "Poor Dan Mendoza"
    Chapter 7: So what?

    Part II: Primary sources

    Part III: Historical context

    Part IV: The making of
    Mendoza the Jew

    Part V: Now it's your turn

    Suggestions for Further Reading

Teaching Resources

Ron Schechter's book covers one sport, many consequences by Jim Ducibella
January 30th, 2014

In this video, Ron Schechter discusses his new book "Mendoza the Jew."

Click here to watch the video and read the article!

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