As surprising as it is to learn that a Jewish homeland was established on the far eastern reaches of the Soviet Union in 1928, 20 years before the founding of the Israel, it's even more amazing that this Zion was created by none other than Joseph Stalin. The land, known as the Jewish Autonomous Region (J.A.R.), was seen as a solution to Papa Joe's "Jewish Question." During the first half of the 20th century, the world's largest Jewish population lived within the Russian empire, and Stalin was determined to forge for them a new agrarian Soviet-Yiddish identity. The plan: to move as many Jews as possible to a parcel of rich, entirely undeveloped land on the easternmost...