The companion volume to a three-part TV series shown this spring on PBS. Wistrich (Modern European History/Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem; Hitler's Apocalypse, 1986, etc.) provides a history of anti-Semitism from pre-Christian times through the Holocaust and goes on to survey contemporary anti-Semitism in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. In his relatively brief text, Wistrich can give his subject only a once-over-lightly. The result is practically an almanac of names, dates, and places, though it makes a useful introduction to deeper reading and reveals lines of continuity—for example, between Catholic and Reformation demonizing of Jews as Christ- killers and the Nazis' depersonalizing campaign. But there are gaps and mistaken emphases. The British response to the Holocaust gets half a sentence. The German left of today is called anti-Semitic for voicing criticism of Israeli West Bank behavior milder than that of some Israeli observers themselves. The illustrations—anti- Jewish propaganda from the Middle Ages to the present—while necessary, are so offensive that they make one cringe. In fact, this is a dispiriting book in both subject matter and treatment. In subject matter, because Wistrich—whether necessarily or not- -emphasizes the role of intellectuals in fomenting murderous hatred of Jews: St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas even, and on to Voltaire, Renan, Marx (only Nietzsche comes out well); and where anti-Semitism is in abeyance, it's often because other minorities are also targets of race hatred. As for treatment, though, Wistrich concentrates on how, not why. He gives us lots of facts and summary historical analyses, but he doesn't begin to try to explain why hatred of Jews has persisted for millennia, or—the book's biggest failure—why, after all the pogroms, massacres, and expulsions he lists, Jews survive and even flourish as individuals and in communities. A few heroes, a little good news to leaven the bad, would have made this a more edifying work. (B&w illustrations—24 pages—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-40946-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

Close Quickview