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The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and its Heritage (1976)

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Koestler advances the thesis that Ashkenazi Jews are not descended from the historical Israelites of antiquity, but from Khazars, a Turkic people originating in and populating an empire north of and between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. Koestler's hypothesis is that the Khazars – who converted to Judaism in the 8th century – migrated westwards into current Eastern Europe (primarily Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Hungary and Germany) in the 12th and 13th centuries when the Khazar Empire was collapsing.

At the end of the book's last chapter, Koestler summarizes its content and his intentions as follows:

"In Part One of this book I have attempted to trace the history of the Khazar Empire based on the scant existing sources. In Part Two, Chapters V-VII, I have compiled the historical evidence which indicates that the bulk of Eastern Jewry — and hence of world Jewry — is of Khazar-Turkish, rather than Semitic, origin. In the last chapter I have tried to show that the evidence from anthropology concurs with history in refuting the popular belief in a Jewish race descended from the biblical tribe."