While I believe that this book is a must-read insofar as gaining an understanding of Khazaria goes, I do not believe, as the author contends, that this population survived in the numbers that he suggests. Most recent Mitochondrial and Y-Chromosome mapping work that has been done on Ashkenazi Jews suggests that the overwhelming majority of the progenitors of this population were middle-eastern in origin. The rest of the genome suggests that an intermarriage and conversion rate that could not have been more than one percent per generation. A mass influx of survivors from the fall of the Khazarian empire just doesn't fit into the genetic picture.
The other big problem is that when Mr. Brook traces various customs of modern Ashkenazi Jews to Khazaria, even when explicit evidence exists that these customs existed hundreds of years earlier. One such example is the Mezuzah (a small parchment that is rolled up and affixed to the doorpost of Jewish homes).
Even the linguistic evidence is sometimes wanting. The Turkic, or Ugric words that are traced to Khasarian origins could have come into the Yiddish vocabulary from any number of outlets. The Turkic language family was quite wide-spread across Asia well into the sixteenth century, and is still quite large. Jews were and continue to be in contact with dozens of members of this language group.
Lest I sound overly harsh, while some evidence is wanting, this book has enormous assets. The exploration of Khazarian culture, and the fact that this Jewish population existed are well presented. There are no apologetics and it is an honest investigation into a difficult topic. I believe that anybody would be well served by reading it, even though I disagree with the conclusions that are drawn.
Being turkish myself, I have always found the friendship between jews and turks very warm and interesting (and many of my friends are jewish). I knew the Ottoman Empire accepted 150.000 jews during Sultan Suleyman (Solomon) II in 1492 - when Spain chose to expel them - and that modern Turkey has close military ties with Israel; but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought than an entire Turkish kingdom converted to Judaism and allowed jews from all over the world to settle and build a strong kingdom. What a fascinating and extraordinary positive event!
Kevin Brooks has written a very valuable book on not only the origins of some of the Eastern European Jews, but also on Turkish history. Anybody with an interest in Jewish and turkish history needs to read this "first encounter" between jews and turks, which has cemented a friendship that existed in many different forms since then.
T???rker Kara (Denmark)