ANTI-SEMITISM: The Road to the Holocaust and Beyond by Charles Patterson

ANTI-SEMITISM: The Road to the Holocaust and Beyond

Email this review


A highly condensed history of a social phenomenon as complex and sensitive as anti-Semitism has to be viewed with some caution. Patterson's treatment is not simple-minded or lurid; if anything, it's too dryly attenuated to interest young readers. Also, somewhat over a third deals with Nazi persecution of the Jews--a subject covered, with the Christian anti-Jewish/German racist background, in good, single-volume histories. The pre-WW II American material--noted instances of anti-Semitism, broadly racist immigration limitations--lacks mention of how mild US anti-Semitism was by world standards. The post-WW II material--ranging from Arab-Israeli relations through Soviet ""anti-Zionism"" to Jacobo Timerman--is so short on context as to be no more than a kaleidoscope: different kinds of anti-Semitism here and them. That leaves, as cursorily informative, Patterson's initial explanation of how the deicide charge against the Jews became part of Christian teaching; his brief recap of anti-Semitic flare-ups, and their causes (Crusader fervor, the money-lending onus, etc.), through to the Enlightenment and emancipation; his fuller account of 19th-century developments--most of them, however, on an ideological or proselytizing plane (Gobineau, Houston, Stewart Chamberlain, Edouard Drumont). Most of the book, then, is neither especially objectionable nor especially valuable. The one sticking point is the lack of discrimination, or balance--as regards the US in particular. ""There is little evidence that in the future the United States will prove to be any more resistant to anti-Semitism than Europe was,"" Patterson concludes. And that assertion is both factually indefensible and potentially mischievous.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Walker