This IS a great book, however Prof. Trajtenberg misses the point. The argument of this book is that there was a spontaneous development of emphaising literacy and critical thinking within Jewish religious culture that was not related to persecutions. Indeed, the authors arguee that a large seqment of ancient Jews (the Pharisees) had begun emphasising broad religious literacy within their ranks 100-200 years before the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE. The calamity of 70 CE merely accelerated an already established trend. It is perfectly logical to suppose that Jewish faith could have been sustained by a small cadre of literate Rabbis and scribes spread throughout the diaspora; however, what happened instead was the dissemination of literacy and critical thinking to all Jewish men... Not because of the destruction of the second Temple, but simply because Jews thought it a good idea... Many CENTURIES before any other religious tradition. Let's stop trying to explain Jewish success as a repercussion of recurring calamity... That is the main point of this excelent book.
Four women and a child killed in car crash near Hebron (Haaretz)
from the article: What makes Jews so smart?