The following book review by Lyn Julius of Nissim Rejwan's The last Jews in Baghdad was published in the Rosh Hashana 2006 issue of Sameah:
The last Jews in Baghdad is really the story of the last intellectuals of
Rejwan had a very tough childhood. His father being both blind and housebound, the family breadwinner was Nissim’s elder brother Eliahu. The family moved house constantly in
One cannot but admire Nissim Rejwan: unlike the rest of the Alliance-educated Jewish elite, he attended government schools, supported and taught himself English and French. A voracious reader, he immersed himself in the English literature of the day. He flirted fashionably with Marxism and Communism. After 1950 his Jewish friends went their separate ways: Elie Kedourie, his close friend and literary mentor, became a celebrated professor of political science in
The other members of Rejwan’s circle were mainly Shi’a intellectuals with whom he rarely discussed politics. Rejwan tried to re-establish contact with them after moving to
There is little about Rejwan’s life in
This is a well-written memoir with a somewhat banal title, but one cannot help feeling that Nissim Rejwan has padded out an earlier essay with reminiscences, a potted history of the Jews of Iraq and assorted esoteric reviews he wrote for the Iraq Times. The book does not come to any definite conclusions but the author epitomises the apolitical Iraqi Jew, uprooted by historical forces stronger than himself.