ESAU'S TEARS by Albert S. Lindemann

ESAU'S TEARS

Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews, 1870-1933
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 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. 14th, 1997
ISBN: 0-521-59369-7
Page count: 450pp
Publisher: Cambridge Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1997




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