Melting point

Rachel Cockerell


In stock

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.

ISBN: 9781035408917 Category:


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

‘This is an extraordinarily original way of writing memoir, history and truth. An enthralling book and a wonderful new writer.’ Laura Cumming

On June 7th 1907, a ship packed with Russian Jews sets sail 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 novels have made him famous across Europe and America. As Eastern Europe becomes infected by anti-Semitic violence, 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.

In a highly inventive style, Cockerell uses exclusively source material to capture history as it unfolds, weaving together letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper articles and interviews into a vivid account of those who were there. 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 memorable figures of the twentieth century, and each chooses whether to cling to their history or melt into their new surroundings. It is a story that asks what it means to belong, and what can be salvaged from the past.

Additional information

Weight 0.64 kg
Dimensions 23.6 × 15.4 × 4 cm










976.4004924 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K

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