ESAU'S TEARS

MODERN ANTI-SEMITISM AND THE RISE OF THE JEWS, 1870-1933

A richly informative, if highly problematic, overview of anti- Jewish bigotry and violence between the 1870s, when the term ``anti-Semitism'' was coined, and the Holocaust. Lindemann (History/Univ. of Calif., Santa Barbara), who has written previously on Dreyfus and other anti-Semitic cases, here focuses largely on Germany and France, with lesser attention to Russia, Great Britain, the US, Italy, Hungary, and Romania. (Curiously, a section on the interwar years almost entirely omits Poland, a country with a deep anti-Semitic tradition.) He correctly posits an indirect line between the racist anti-Semitism that characterized the beginning of the period and what Daniel Goldhagen calls the ``eliminationist'' ethos that led to the Holocaust. Lindemann also makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of both long-term socioeconomic and short-term political contingencies behind the expression of anti-Semitism. He reveals the ``comparative quality and texture in expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment'' by demonstrating that most major anti-Semites and philo-Semites were more complex than their labels would indicate. However, Lindemann's penchant for nuance ultimately takes its toll. While there is an indisputable correlation between the rise of Jewish power and influence during the 19th and 20th centuries and the intensification of political and intellectual anti-Semitism, the author comes very close to suggesting that there is a clear-cut causal relationship between the two. Thus, he refers to modern anti-Semitism as ``transparently an ideology of revenge'' and alludes to the supposed ``Jewish sense of superiority (including certain kinds of measurable Jewish superiority) and the envy/hatred it has engendered.'' Finally, Lindemann, who calls for scholars to engage in a nonpolemical study of anti-Semitism, himself lapses into highly charged statements and rhetorical questions in an odd, rambling conclusion. There's much provocative, compelling material here, but the author's conclusions are too often contradictory or unpersuasive.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 1997

ISBN: 0-521-59369-7

Page Count: 450

Publisher: Cambridge Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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