The story of Shabtai Zvi takes place at a time of great upheaval and stress for the Jewish people, particularly in Poland and the surrounding lands that came under the sword of the bloody Cossack Bogdan Chmelnitski. His cruelty was vicious and unmatched until the time of Hitler. The number of his victims was said to be greater than that of the Inquisition of 1492 and was exceeded only by the Nazi terrors. The longing for relief from oppression and return to the Holy Land was extremely strong at that time. This required a Messianic leader as described by the prophets of the Biblical period. Shabtai Zvi was born and raised in the early 1600s, when the ravages of Chmelnitski and his followers were at their peak. Also at that time the influence of Kabbalah, a mystical philosophy and practice, on Jewish thought was very powerful especially in the Near East communities. Some say its impact was even greater than that of the Talmud. The author of this historical biographical novel, Shlomo Rosenberg, writing in Yiddish, has presented a fascinating story, weaving together themes of great piety, love, lust and deceit to which many will find parallels in our day. Translation by Albert G. Goldin makes this little known but absorbing facet of history available to the English speaking audience.