Note: this book is also called "The Jew from Toledo"

Written by a German Jew, "Spanish ballad" is a historic novel set in Toledo (Spain) of the 12th century. It tells about the life of Yehuda Ben Ezra, a rish Jewish merchant in Toledo, the king's minister of finances, and of his daughter Rachel, who became the king's mistress.

But it deals with so much things around: the life in medieval Spain, the relationships between Christians, Muslims and Jews, the life of Jews under Christian rule, the Crusades, religion, war, love, friendship and many more.

It's a great book that is interesting to read and enriches one's mind in many aspects. First, the historic context is accurate and one learns a lot about a period of human history that isn't very well documented in other novels/texts. Second, the book carries philosophic insights that make one think, not a feat any novel grants its reader.

The most important lesson learned from the "Spanish ballad" is its anti-war stance. In this aspect, there are a lot of similarities to "War and Peace". By telling the about (seemingly ridiculous) reasons that lead to wars, the horrors this war leads to, and the peaceful and rich life nations live without wars, the writer conveys his peaceful message.

This is the first book I read by Feuchtwanger, but I will read others. I love historic novels, and I liked his way of writing - it's fluid, interesting and has meaning behind the plot.